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“Stop the patent on the poor creature”
17 April 2009
Farmers demonstrate in Munich against patents on animals and plants
Munich, 15 April. – Over a thousand farmers joined by environment and development-aid organisations today demonstrated against patents on animals and plants in Munich. Over 5,000 people and some 50 organisations have filed a joint opposition to a patent on breeding pigs originally registered by the US agricultural corporation, Monsanto. The No Patents on Life organisation is handing over the objection today at the European Patent Office in Munich. Those taking part in the protest march, being made under the heading ‘Stop the patent on the poor creature’, are calling for patents on life to be prohibited by law. Greenpeace yesterday presented new research on patent applications authorised by the EPO, showing these now ranged from the breeding of cows to milk. Today’s demonstration against patents on life is reckoned to be the biggest so far in Europe.
“Farmers and breeders are dispossessed by patents on life,” says Rudolf Buehler from the Schwaebisch Hall farmers’ association, which has today led a herd of its traditional breeding pigs to the patent office. “Corporations like Monsanto want control over agriculture and food, from piglets to cutlets.” The animals being claimed in the pig patent (EP 1651777) are no different from other breeding pigs. Nor is any new technical invention described in the application. Monsanto has just modified breeding procedures that are already known.
The demonstration is also supported by the German dairy farmers alliance, the BDM, and the AbL farmers’ cooperative. “There are new patent applications that range from cows to milk and yoghurt,” says Romuald Schaber at the BDM. “The German government must set limits to big companies’ greed for living creatures.”
The development-aid organisation Misereor fears farmers in developing countries are losing the rights to their own seeds through such patents. Patents on seed further aggravate the global situation for food by making cultivation more expensive.
The demonstrators in Munich have already chalked up an initial success for the independence of agriculture. The Hesse state government and the Greens in the German Bundestag last month called for a change in European patent laws prohibiting such patents being granted in future.
Editors please note
Please direct enquiries to Mute Schimpf at Misereor, tel. 0049 (0)172 1704 891, Georg Janssen at the ABL, tel. 0049 (0)170 4964 684, or Greenpeace’s press officer, Simone Miller, tel. 0049 (0)171 8706 647. You can obtain photos of the demonstration by calling 0049 (0)40 30618 376. An up-to-date report in German by Greenpeace on patents on life can be found on the internet at www.greenpeace.de. Further information is available at www.misereor.de,www.no-patents-on-seeds.org, and www.keinpatent.de