Tuesday, December 22, 2015


European Parliament calls for patents on plants derived from conventional breeding to be stopped

Resolution urges the EU Commission to take action
In a resolution backed by a large majority of its members, the European Parliament has taken a clear position against granting patents on plants derived from conventional breeding.

In its statement, the Parliament says that these plants, seeds, native traits or genes should be excluded from patentability. Furthermore, plant breeders should not be blocked by patents from accessing biological diversity needed for further breeding.

The Members of the European Parliament are further insisting that prohibitions in existing European patent law against patents on plant varieties and conventional breeding must not be undermined by the kind of interpretation currently followed by the European Patent Office (EPO). Not long ago, the EPO granted several patents on tomatoes, pepper and broccoli derived from cross-breeding and selection.

The resolution also expresses concerns that patent monopolies are a threat to global food security and may hamper breeders in efforts to tackle climate change. The patents are seen as being against the interests of small and medium breeders. With this resolution, the European Parliament has reaffirmed a similar resolution from May 2012.

“The resolution very much comes down on the side of civil society organisations, who are demanding the exclusion of all breeding processes and breeding material, plant and animal characteristics, genes, plants and animals, as well as food derived thereof from patentability”, says Christoph Then for the international coalition of No Patents on Seeds! “Now it is up to the EU Commission and the European Governments to make sure the EPO acts accordingly.”

No Patents on Seeds! is an international coalition of civil society organisations. It recently published a report containing an overview of patents granted by the EPO and a legal analysis. The report further highlights the need for more political action.

The call made by the international coalition No Patents on Seeds! to stop these patents has the support of several hundred organisations all over Europe. The coalition No Patents on Seeds! is supported by Arche Noah (Austria), Bionext (Netherlands), The Berne Declaration (Switzerland), GeneWatch (UK), Greenpeace, Misereor (Germany), Development Fund (Norway), NOAH (Denmark), No Patents on Life (Germany), ProSpecieRara (Switzerland), Red de Semillas (Spain), Rete Semi Rurali (Italy), Reseau Semences Paysannes (France), and Swissaid (Switzerland). They are all calling for a revision of European Patent Law to exclude breeding material, breeding processes, plants and animals, their characteristics, their genetic components, the harvest and food derived thereof from patentability.

The real reason for the current fixation on GMOs held by the seed industry and public research institutions is because they are easy to patent, with the necessary “inventive step” being clear to patent offices worldwide. While the creeping tendency of the EPO to patent the products of conventional breeding may, if it proceeds unchecked, undermine the reason for GMOs’ existence, it also clearly runs counter to the interests of food sovereignty and food security and must be vigorously opposed.


The resolution: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=eec107900a&e=872a621ccb

The report: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=2478127355&e=872a621ccb

The petition: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=7be2524d10&e=872a621ccb
Website: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=228dc9ae9b&e=872a621ccb
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Sunday, December 20, 2015


Organic Consumers Association


“The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” – Pete Seeger
A number of online fundraising appeals popped up in my inbox this week, most of them alluding to our “troubled times” and “dark days ahead.” 
I understand why people feel this way. But I’m an optimist. And I believe most of you are, too. As optimists, it’s our job to do more than just rail against the bad. We must also find—better yet, create—the “optimistic stories” and “let them be known.”
With your help, that’s what we’ll do in 2016. We’ve already started.
Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s have once again stepped up to match your donation to OCA. Please help us raise $250,000 by midnight December 31, so we can take advantage of this generous offer. You can donate online, by U.S. mail or by calling our office—details here.
As I write this today, it’s clear your voices have been heard in Congress, at least on the matter of allowing states to enact GMO labeling laws. Thanks to your support this past year, Monsanto couldn’t get a bipartisan version of the DARK Act (H.R. 1599, a bill to preempt GMO labeling laws) introduced, much less passed, in the Senate.
And thanks to a massive mobilization effort, including hundreds of meetings, protests, petition drives and phone banks directed toward Congressional home district and DC offices, we’ve blocked Monsanto and Big Food from attaching a GMO labeling-preemption rider to the year-end federal budget deal. Even better?We forced the FDA to require mandatory labeling of GMO salmon! Until the labeling guidelines are finalized, there will be no frankenfish in our grocery stores.
This is your victory. It may be temporary, but it’s huge. Monsanto will come roaring back in January to try to preempt state laws again. But for now, Vermont’s GMO labeling law, set to take effect July 1, is safe
Safeguarding Vermont’s GMO labeling law, and passing similar laws in other states, are worthy goals. We will not lose sight of these goals in 2016.
But let’s face it. The GMO ingredients in our food represent only 20 percent of the total market for GMO crops. The other 80 percent of GMO crops go into making ethanol and feeding the billions of animals incarcerated, in unconscionably inhumane and unhealthy conditions, in factory farms.
The hundreds of thousands of acres of monoculture crops, sprayed with toxic pesticides like glyphosate, and grown in soil that is degraded by synthetic chemicals, are wreaking havoc with our soils, our waterways, our health, our climate.
We absolutely must win the right to know if our food contains GMOs. But our movement must be bigger than that. We must set our sights on building a new global food and farming system. We must bring down the degenerative, Monsanto-style agriculture system and replace it with one that regenerates—soil, health, economies, climate stability.  
Regeneration is the new frontier of the organic food and farming movement. It is our next “optimistic story.” It is a story of healing. Of renewal. Of hope.
And the best part of this story is that we have the power to write it. Our choices as consumers, our choices as activists, our choices as voters will drive the plot. 
If we don’t step up to regenerate our food system and our ecosystem, corporations like Monsanto will define the future. Corporations won’t change unless we force them to change. Elected officials won’t listen to us unless we force them to listen.
My optimism has been fueled by this latest victory to preserve states’ rights to label GMOs. With your help, I believe we can move on to bigger and better victories. Our future depends on it.
Please help us raise $250,000 by midnight December 31, so we can take advantage of a matching funds challenge from Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s.  You can donate online, by snail mail or by calling our office—details here.
Thank you! And happy, healthy holidays from all of us at OCA.
Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund
P.S. We have until midnight December 31 to take advantage of this matching grant. Please make a generous donation today. Donations made to the the Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) are tax-deductible. If you don't need the tax deduction, please consider making a donation to our 501(c)(4) lobbying arm by clicking here. Thank you!