|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
APRIL 5, 2005
Judit L. Kalovits
Tel No: +31.621.296.914.
Greenpeace and Farmers Join Forces to Protect Our Food from Biotech Industry Buy-out
MUNICH -- April 5 -- The genetic engineering (GE) industry could come a step closer to "owning" our food, through a disastrous decision by the European Patent Office due tomorrow. Greenpeace and one of the biggest farming organisations in Argentina are warning that a final ruling on Monsanto Roundup Ready soy (1) could pave the way for all biotech companies to patents on seeds.
The ruling will run in contravention of the European Patent Convention's own regulations that prohibit patenting plant varieties (2). At a joint press conference with the Argentine Federación Agraria Argentina in Munich Greenpeace and the farmers were calling for a global ban on such patents.
"Monsanto and the companies, which are part of Monsanto's seed-emporium, have already been granted dozens of patents on seeds in Europe. The companies are trying to gain complete control of agriculture, from seed to food - and patents are the right tool for it" - said Christoph Then, genetic engineering campaigner of Greenpeace International.
Such takeover would be a threat to traditional seed practices and would be a direct violation of farmers around the world. In addition to the patent applications, Monsanto is pushing for additional royalties on GE soy after harvest in Argentina without even having any legal basis for it. It is also feared that if the European Patent is upheld the company will use the legislation to even charge Argentinean soy-shipments coming to Europe.
"Countries which allow for patents on life give up their sovereignty on their national resources and violate the rights of the farmers to use their own seeds. Farmers who are sowing Monsanto plants have to be aware that they are also growing the seeds of monopoly; this is true for Europe and Argentina. The company is taking farmers prisoner and denying them the chance to return to farming non-GE seeds" - said Eduardo Buzzi, the president of Federación Agraria Argentina.
Greenpeace is concerned that patents on GE seeds are just a starting point for companies such as Monsanto to take all kind of patent monopolies on seeds, cultivation, harvest, food and seed production. The actual market position of Monsanto and some other seed patent giants is already so strong that in the near future even farmers in Europe could be forced to grow GE seeds, because they simply will be offered no more new conventional seeds.