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Why is Australia allowing Monsanto to patent screening its biodiversity?

For Immediate Release 26th Feb 2014

Monsanto has a problem, just six types of soybean provide most of the genes for 136 soy cultivars(1). Crop failures result when the gene pool of crops are too narrow, for example the Irish potato famine and the 1970 US southern leaf corn blight epidemic(2).

Most of the relatives of the soybean (glycine) are native to Australia (3). This isn't preventing Monsanto being granted a patent today by the European Patent Office in Munich (EPO) on screening and selecting for wild and cultivated soybean plants adapted to various climates.

"This is biopiracy on a vast scale." said Fran Murrell of MADGE Australia. "Monsanto is claiming a patent on screening for all the natural genetic variations that will be used to breed soybeans in future. Why should one company control this knowledge, deny it to others and use it for profit? By what right can the European Patent Office hand control to a multinational corporation? This is anti-democratic, anti-breeding and a new form of colonialism."

For Comment ring Fran Murrell 0401 407 944