EU wants clarity on patents and plant breeders´ legislation

The European Commission wants to provide clarity and legal certainty concerning patenting of natural properties of vegetables and other plants through a detailed interpretation of the biotech directive.

EU commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska (Internal Market) made this promise during the symposium ‘Finding the Balance’, which was organised by Mr Martijn van Dam (Economic Affairs the Netherlands) on 18 May 2016 in Brussels.

Martijn van Dam sees this commitment as an absolute breakthrough in the debate about patents and plant breeders’ legislation. ‘The Netherlands has always opposed patents on natural properties and biological processes. A monopoly on vegetables and plants is illogical and undesirable. Nature belongs to all of us. Therefore, I do appreciate that the Commission is finally taking this step. We are not at the finishing line yet, but we certainly cleared a significant hurdle,’ said Martijn van Dam, who opened the symposium in Brussels as part of the Netherlands’ Presidency of the EU.

At the symposium in Brussels, Commissioner Bienkowska explained that an adaptation of the existing biotech directive would not provide a solution. Before the end of the year, the Commission will present their interpretative statement as part of the comprehensive package of practical solutions that has come forward during the symposium. Some examples include greater transparency, improved access to biological material and increased cooperation between the European Patent Office and plant breeders agencies.