"Doing nothing is not an option" this was loudly stated by Commissioner Bienkowska (Internal Market) during the symposium organized by the Netherlands on the balance between patent and plant variety. With this, the European Commission committed itself to solve the problems of the patent and plant variety.
The symposium which was held on May 18th, under the stewardship of the Dutch presidency was a major milestone. The EC has already indicated its intention to come up with a legal interpretation in the coming year. A quick solution is important because there are currently hundreds of patents on natural plant traits awaiting review by the European Patent Office.
The judicial interpretation should place the granting of these patents restricted. After years of dedication to the association of breeders Plantum looks back on this symposium. "Only ..", as Judith de Roos (lawyer Plantum) indicates, "we are not there yet." It is now important that the State Secretary Van Dam to urge on the EU loves to come to a correct implementation of the solutions.
During the symposium breeders, farmers and NGOs voiced their concerns about the patenting of natural properties in plants. Patenting impedes free access of this material and thus the innovation in plant breeding. As one of the speakers said aptly "It leads to more lawyers and fewer and fewer active breeders," which has far-reaching implications for further down the chain and to consumers.
The issue is now widely recognized by European politics. Late last year, the European Parliament expressed itself firmly through a resolution calling for a legal interpretation against the patenting of natural plant characteristics. Now, the European Commission undertook to do in the short term. Such interpretation will have to make clear that the biotech Safety Directive is intended for the patenting of biotechnological inventions and not already naturally occurring traits. In the medium term will follow additional measures aimed at improving the quality and handling of the real biotechnological inventions.
The issue of patents is done by the European Patent Office, which is autonomously controlled by 38 countries (28 EU + 10). After the European Commission gave its interpretation of the Directive, these countries will have to adopt the EU's view on the rules of the European Patent Office. This support seems to be, but this has yet to be formally adopted.