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The Knowledge-Sharing Platform

25 May 2016

Discussions on patent law and plant breeders’ rights at the symposium 'Finding the Balance'

The European Commission wants to offer clarity and legal certainty about patenting the natural traits of vegetables and other plants through further interpretation of the biotech directive. This was announced by European Commissioner for the Internal Market Elżbieta Bieńkowska at the symposium ‘Finding the Balance’ in Brussels, organised by Minister for Agriculture Martijn van Dam in the context of the Netherlands EU Presidency.

This is a definite breakthrough in the discussion on patent law and plant breeders’ rights’  said the minister in his opening speech.

The Netherlands has always opposed the patenting of natural plant traits and biological processes. A monopoly on fruit and vegetables is illogical and undesirable. It’s great that the Commission is taking this step' , he continued.

Furthermore, he stated:  'The sector of growing and breeding plants profits from the free availability of biological material. This promotes innovation in plant breeding which in turn improves both the Netherlands’ competitive position and, ultimately, global food security.'

At the symposium in Brussels, Commissioner Bieńkowska indicated that the Commission is working on a closer interpretation of the existing biotech directive. The interpretative declaration will be presented by the Commission by the end of the year. It will be part of a broader package of practical solutions put forward at the symposium.Examples include more transparency, better access to biological material and improved cooperation between the European Patent Office and the Community Plant Variety Office.

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