Monsanto never ceases to amaze!
Convergence of GMOs and Factory Farming.
Thanks to Elaine, and to Dr. Ann Clark from the University of Guelph:
Greenpeace reveals Biotech giant Monsanto application for global pig patent
Amsterdam/New Delhi, 2 August 2005 – Greenpeace researchers have uncovered patent application from the biotech giant Monsanto which, if granted, would give the company world-wide control over breeding of pigs and their off spring. Greenpeace warns that Monsanto’s aggressive patent practices covering genetically modified (GM) crops and normal seeds threaten biodiversity, endanger world food security and ruin the livelihoods of farmers and calls for the patent applications to be withdrawn.
Speaking at an international conference on Biodiversity, Biopiracy and Patents (1), being held in New Delhi, Eric Gall of Greenpeace International said: “Monsanto is once again trying to control the food we grow. This is patenting life. This is abuse of patent laws and it is an outright offence to farmers world-wide.”
Filed at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva (2) the patent application stakes a claim on pig rights in more than 160 countries, including the UK, Germany, the US, Russia, Brazil, Australia, China and India. If granted, US-based Monsanto will be in a position to prevent breeders and farmers from breeding pigs with certain characteristics or methods of breeding, or force them to pay royalties. The patents cover methods of conventional breeding and also the screening for naturally occurring genetic conditions that can make pigs grow faster.
Monsanto wants to enter a growing market with an increasing consumer demand for meat products globally. The Monsanto patents pretend to speed up breeding for higher economical profit. The hitch is that these pigs and their descendants would all be patented – and royalties would have to be paid to Monsanto.
Monsanto is already infamous for its aggressive marketing of GM crops such as GM soy and GM maize, as well as for its far-reaching monopolies on all kind of seeds (3). Greenpeace wants Monsanto to drop patent applications on farm animals and seeds, and stop the abuse of patent law, bio-piracy, animal patents and seed monopolies.
Greenpeace also launched a cyberaction against Monsanto today.
“If this patent gets granted, Monsanto could control the normal breeding of pigs to a large extent, without any real invention behind it. The experience farmers have with this company so far (4) let them expect a further shocking exercise of squeezing royalties and suing farmers on global scale,” warned Gall. “This patent application is so absurd we wonder what Monsanto will come up with next?”
For more information Eric Gall, Greenpeace European Unit GMO policy adviser, mobile +91 98 116 82601 (in India) and +32 (0)496 161 582 Christoph Then, GE campaigner, Greenpeace International, mobile +49 171 878 0832 Judit L. Kalovits, media officer, Greenpeace International, mobile +31 621 296 914
Notes to Editors
(1) “EU – India Dialogue cum Strategy Session on Biodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights” conference between the European Union and India is held in New Delhi, India on the 1-2 August 2005.
(2) Patent applications WO 2005/017204 and WO 2005/015989 were filed in February 2005 at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. There are more than 160 countries mentioned where the patent should be granted, such as in Europe, Russian Federation, Asia (India, China, Philippines) America (USA, Brazil, Mexico), Australia and New Zealand. The WIPO itself can only receive applications, but does not grant any patents; it will forward the applications to regional patent offices in the US, Europe or elsewhere. At this stage the patent are not granted yet, but they could be accepted for example under European and US Regulation.
For the full document see: (link no longer valid) http://www.wipo.int/cgi-pct/guest/ifetch5?ENG+PCT-ALL.vdb+14+1147748-SCORE+256+4+20872+BASICHTML-ENG+1+1+1+25+SEP-0/HITNUM,B,,SCORE+2005015989
(3) The company has spent about 10 billions US $ over the last ten years to buy a large range of companies involved in seed and agricultural production. According to Greenpeace, such patents and monopolies lead to a decrease of biodiversity in agriculture, endanger global food security and put pressure on farmers’ livelihoods worldwide. For more on patents at (link no longer valid)http://archive.greenpeace.org/geneng/reports/pat/intrpat.htm
(4) The way Monsanto tries to control its genetically manipulated seeds such as herbicide resistant soybeans by taking farmers to court has already led to worldwide controversies and protests. Recently it was made public that Monsanto even tries to get additional royalties for harvests from Argentinean soybean farmers exported to Europe by filing court cases in Denmark, claiming the cargo of shipments was their intellectual property.
Take Action against Monsanto at http://www.greenpeace.org/no-pig-patent. (Link no longer valid)
Monsanto goes pig monopoly
The US company Monsanto filed two global patent applications on pigs and related breeding methods.
The patents WO 2005/017204 and WO 2005/015989 were published in February 2005 at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. There are more than 160 countries mentioned where the patent should be granted, such as in Europe, Russian Federation, Asia (India, China, Philippines) America (USA, Brazil, Mexico), Australia and New Zealand. WIPO itself can only receive applications, but does not grant any patents; it will forward the applications to regional patent offices in the US, Europe or elsewhere. At this stage the patent are not granted yet, but they could be accepted for example under European and US Regulation. (For the full claim please see: (link no longer valid) http://www.wipo.int/cgi-pct/guest/ifetch5?ENG+PCT-ALL.vdb+14+1147748-SCORE+256+4+20872+BASICHTML-ENG+1+1+1+25+SEP-0/HITNUM,B,,SCORE+2005015989 )
The patents are based on simple procedures, but are incredibly broad in its claims.
In WO 2005/015989 Monsanto is describing general methods of pig breeding, such as normal crossing and selecting methods, using artificial insemination and other methods which are already in use.
The main so-called “invention” is a certain way to combine these elements to speed up breeding for animals that are better in meat quality, health or in other economical aspects.
The patent covers the idea how to combine the different elements of breeding but also claims the whole animals and even herds of animals used for breeding. Some quotes from the patent claims (see page 53 ff):
Claim 43 reads: “A target herd produced using a method according to … ”
Claim 53 reads: “A swine production (SP) herd produced using …”
This means not only a certain of breeding practises will be monopolized, but the whole animals as such will be subjected to the patent.
WO 2005/017204 refers to genetic diagnosis of pigs for a certain gene, which is related to faster growth. There is a certain variation of a natural occurring gene sequence, related to gaining weight that was first identified in mice and humans. Monsanto wants to use this gene for screening pig populations to find animals with conditions that are likely to enhance pork production by better uptake and conversion rate of feed. But again, not only the method is claimed but also the specific genetic information related to the breeding method and the whole animals are subjected to the claims (see page 37 ff):
Claim 16 reads: “A pig off spring produced by a method…”
Claim 17 reads: “A pig herd having an increased frequency of a specific …gene…”
Claim 23 reads: “A pig population produced by the method…”
Claim 30 reads: “A swine herd produced by a method…”
This means the pigs and their off spring, as well as the use of the genetic information for breeding will be monopolized by company of Monsanto.
These patents have to be seen in context of Monsanto´s general strategy of gaining monopolies at large extent in the context of all levels of food production. Traditionally the company earns its money with agrochemicals. In the last ten years the company spent about 10 billion US dollars to buy up seed producers and companies in other sector of agricultural business. Last big coup was the acquisition of biggest producer of vegetable seeds, Seminis, for about 1 billion USD. Monsanto is holder of extremely broad patents on seeds, most but not all of them related to GMOs. Monsanto also claimed for example patents on traditional bred wheat from India and soy plants from China. Many of the patents are not only directed to use of seeds but all uses of plants and harvest. For example Monsanto has a European patent on genetically manipulated soybeans, which covers cultivation and all parts of the plants. On the basis of this patent Monsanto filed court cases against Argentinean soy producers in Europe who import their harvest by shipments, to force them to pay additional royalties.
Several patents even cover use of the crops in food and feed. By claiming monopolies on pig production, the company tries to enter another area of food production with high economical expectations. As it is explained in patent application WO 2005/017204: “The economic impact of the industry on rural America is immense. Annual farm sales typically exceed $11 billion, while the retail value of pork sold to consumers reaches $38 billion each year.”
[From this perspective it could be expected Monsanto is filing patents on retailers selling their soybeans and pigs in the very near future.]
The overall perspective is dramatic. Very few agrochemical multinationals such as Monsanto already control international seeds market more or less (Bayer, Syngenta, Dupont). By claiming global monopoly right patents throughout the whole food chain farmers and food producers get dependent on them to an extent which is unique in history. Food and seed supply ends up in the hands a few companies, which at the same try to feed force the world with its genetically manipulated crops.
Greenpeace demands a global ban of patents on seeds and farm animals as well as on related genetic resources.
Responsable de la campagne OGM
454, ave. Laurier Est, 3e étage
Montreal H2J 1E7
Tél. (514) 933-0021 x 15
Cell. (514) 605-6497
Fax. (514) 933-1017
Ann E. Ann Clark, Ph.D.
Department of Plant Agriculture
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
(519) 824-4120 Ext. 52508