Chris Gupta

Munich, May 3, 2007.

In a public hearing at the board of appeal at the European Patent Office a basic patent (EP 0301749) of US company Monsanto was revoked today. Reasons were that parts of the patent were not really new and others details were not described in a way that the invention could be really repeated by other experts.

The final decision was the outcome of appeals which were filed by Canadian civil society organisation ETC Group and the European Company of Syngenta. Further oppositions were filed orginally by the NGO >No Patents on Life!< and four other companies when the patent was granted in 1994. Even Monsanto filed an opposition, but then bought the company Agracetus which originally owned the patent, withdrew its opposition and started to defend the patent. According to Hope Shand of ETC Group, "The decision comes pretty late, 13 years after the patent was granted. But the decision to revoke the patent is wonderful news. The species wide soybean patent of Monsanto is not allowed to stand." In its orginal version as granted the patent covered all genetically engineered plant species and especially soybeans and was seen as one of the broadest species patent ever granted on plants and seeds. The background of the so called invention was a >particle gun< method by which plants get bombarded by metallic particles and so introducing foreign genes into plant material. A similar version of the particle gun (which does not allow a precise transfer of gene sequences) is still being used today to produce not only in Monsanto´s plants. Ruth Tippe from the organisation "No Patents on Life!" says: "This is an important step against patents on seeds, because it shows that civil society will keep on fighting and can finally succeed even against powerful multinationals." The outcome of the procedure will not only affect Monsanto but also the European Patent Office: "It is now shown that the Patent Office is granting patents which are covering broad sectors of agricultural diversity without really invention behind. There are many others patents which simply satisfy the greed of companies but do not give benefits to society," says Christoph Then from Greenpeace. Greenpeace which was supporting the legal challenge of No Patents on Life and ETC Group, is urging for a worldwide ban on patents on seeds and currently cooperating in a global coalition with farmers organisation ( Eric Darier Responsable de la campagne OGM Greenpeace 454, ave. Laurier Est, 3e étage Montreal H2J 1E7 Tél. (514) 933-0021 x 15 Cell. (514) 605-6497 Fax. (514) 933-1017 Skype: ericdarier Internet :