The following examples show some patent applications carried to extremes1. Many of the claims presented in these applications can only be described as ludicrous. These patents demonstrate how far we have got with existing patent regulations, which are completely deficient. In only four years, between 2005 and 2009, Monsanto filed nearly 150 patent applications on plant breeding at the WIPO. These applications show a growing tendency to claim exclusive property rights not only on genetically modified plants and animals, but also on existing biodiversity and traditional breeding. While in the years before 2005 only very few such patents were filed, more than 30% of Monsanto’s patent applications between 2005 and 2009 include conventional plant breeding. This trend can also be observed with other big seed corporations. In the same period Dupont filed about 170 patent applications in plant breeding, 25% involving conventional plant breeding. Syngenta filed about 60 applications, with 50% targeting traditional breeding. Amongst the big seed companies, Monsanto is the only one filing patent applications on farm animals too. Since 2005 about 20 patents on animal breeding have been filed by the US company.
In Monsanto’s patent application WO2008021413, ‘the patent of monsantosizing maize and soy’, methods are claimed that are widely used in conventional breeding. On more than 1000 pages and in 175 claims Monsanto claims various gene sequences and genetic variations, especially in soy and maize. Monsanto even goes as far as explicitly claiming all relevant maize and soy plants, inheriting those genetic elements. Furthermore, all uses in food, feed and biomass are listed. By filing specific regional applications Monsanto shows especial interest in applying for this patent in Europe, Argentina and Canada.
In Patent application WO 2009011847, ‘the patent of monsantosizing meat and milk’, Monsanto broadly claims methods for cattle breeding, the animals, as well as “milk, cheese, butter and meat.”
Other companies are also aggressively filing patents on genetic resources needed for feed and food production. An example is patent application WO2008087208, ‘Syngenta’s patent on maize yield', which is targeting genetic conditions in maize for grain yield. Syngenta claims the plants and even their harvest.
Several similar patents are already granted, such as a patent on breeding in soy beans like WO 98/45448, ‘Dupont’s patent on tofu’, granted in Australia, Europe and USA, which covers soy sauce, tofu, soy milk and infant formula made from these soybeans. This patent (or patents of the same family) have also been filed for Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Norway and New Zealand.