Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations (COPA) and General Committee for Agricultural Cooperation in the European Union (COGECA) sent a letter to MEPs today calling on them to act against the use of patents on plants bred via essentially biological processes, saying the current Community Plant Variety Right (CPVR) system works well.

The move comes after the Commission issued a notice in November which underlined that plants that are obtained by means of “essentially biological processes” are not patentable. This recommendation works against the practices of the European Patent Office (EPO) which has already authorized many patents using essentially biological processes like patents on tomatoes and broccoli.

Speaking to MEPs in European Parliament in Brussels, Thor kofoed Chairman of the Seed Working Party said “The current Community Plant Variety Right (CPVR) system has worked well for 50 years, giving farmers access to a good choice of plant varieties. As long as EPO does not accept entirely the breeder’s exemption, Copa and Cogeca cannot accept any kind of patent in plants”.

The EPO decided to follow the EC’s approach (https://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2017/20170629.html) and it will help to avoid the use of patents on plants. It is a crucial first step towards re-establishing the balance in Intellectual Property Rights. But even with this rule change by the EPO, farmers are still concerned about the potentially negative impact of patents on their work as it could prevent them from having access to plant breeding genetic material and make them pay additional royalty payments.”.

“We are of the view that a breeders’ exemption that allows breeders to freely use any variety that contains a patented element for further breeding must be implemented in patent laws all over Europe. It is also essential that farmers cannot in any way violate possible patents when using certified seed”, he concluded.