'Climate-Ready' Crop Patents Threaten Biodiversity - Healthy People, Healthy Planet
By Anna Archibald
The ETC Group has identified over 1,663 patent documents that have been filed by some of the leading seed and agrochemical corporations, claiming “climate-ready” crops as the future of the world’s food supply — what some are calling “biopiracy.”
These patents, which are in violation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Seed Treaty, have raised concern from the Convention on Biological Diversity and FAO that these corporations may be attempting to monopolize the world’s plant biomass. It also raises concern about the future of the world’s food supply.
These patents claim environmental stress tolerance in plants — which includes drought, heat, flood, cold and salt tolerance — through climate-ready crop genes. If corporations are allowed to claim ownership, not only would major crops contain engineered gene sequences owned by one major corporation, so would the processed food and feed products that come from that crop.
The group at the United Nations’ Convention on Biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan, said the patents could become one of the “broadest and most dangerous patent claims in history.”
Over two-thirds of these patents have been filed by only three companies: DuPont, BASF and Monsanto. And only 10 percent of the total patents are from public sector researchers. Many of the companies involved have placed pressures on governments to facilitate the use of these untested crop genes.
In an attempt to deter a negative outlook on genetically modified crops and to convince governments of their “legitimacy,” these corporations have donated a few of these crop genes to farmers in South Africa.
“In exchange for untested technologies, South governments are being pressured to surrender national sovereignty over intellectual property, biomass, and food,” Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group said in the report.
Photo by Tony Atkin/Creative Commons