Patents and plant breeding: Implications for food security

Michael Blakeney

Abstract


This article examines the inter-relationship between plant variety protection (PVP) laws and patent laws and their implications for food security. PVP laws were developed to encourage and protect agricultural innovations by conferring exclusive rights upon the developers of new plant varieties, subject to exceptions for farmers to save seeds for future plantings and for plant breeders to develop new varieties. With the application of recombinant DNA technologies to agriculture and the possibility of patenting DNA and associated enabling technologies the seed saving privilege and breeders’ exception in PVP laws could be circumvented. This has important implications for food security, as does recent efforts of plant breeders to patent their breeding methods. This article examines two recent determinations by the European Patent Office’s Enlarged Board of Appeal concerning attempts to patent plant breeding methods.

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Copyright (c) 2011 Michael Blakeney

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