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Germany Re-Negotiate EU Biotech Patent Directive

Germany Takes Action To Re-Negotiate EU Biotech Patent Directive

Brussels/Hamburg, 18th October, 2000 – The German Government today issued a statement saying that the controversial EU Biotech Patent Directive (98/44/EC) is not adequate to deal with the rapid developments in the field of biotechnology and therefore needs to be amended. The German Government announced that it will "initiate a re-negotiation process at the EU level" in order to achieve a new directive.

In particular, the German government pointed out that the present directive is inadequate in dealing with “the range of product patents, and the patentability of genes, gene-sequences and parts of gene-sequences derived from humans, animals, plants or micro-organisms”. Furthermore, it stated that “the relationship between the patent system and the plant variety protection system needs to be adequately formulated” and that “ethical limitations to the patenting of human body parts must be enforced world-wide.”

Greenpeace welcomed the German initiative but pointed out that it is formally up to the European Commission to initiate new legislation. So far the EU executive has been reluctant to recognise the severe problems caused by the present directive. The support of other EU-member states, and of the European Parliament for the German initiative is therefore essential.

“Greenpeace calls on all EU-Governments to suspend the implementation of the EU Biotech Patent Directive, and to support Germany in its efforts to convince the EU-Commission to start the re-negotiation process immediately. Greenpeace has actively campaigned against patents on life, and demanded the EU Directive be amended in such a way that it prohibits patents on life, whether this concerns genes, humans, animals or plants”, said Thomas Schweiger, Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaigner.

However, Greenpeace regretted that the German Government asked the German Parliament to transpose this directive into national law, despite the fact that it has recognised the inadequacy of the same directive.

The directive has been criticised in other European countries as well. The Netherlands and Italy (supported by Norway, which is not an EU member state but part of the European Economic Area) have challenged it in the European Court of Justice (EJC). The Austrian Parliament wants to postpone the implementation until the judgement of the ECJ. Moreover, France and Belgium have expressed major concerns and are reluctant to implement the directive as it stands. The EU Biotech Patent Directive has not been implemented in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Luxembourg and Sweden either.

For more information: Thomas Schweiger, Greenpeace Germany, Genetic Engineering Campaigner, Tel. +49 40 30618395; Lorenzo Consoli, Media Officer, Greenpeace European Unit, Brussels, Tel: +32-75-955465 or http:\\www.greenpeace.org

end

For information on Greenpeace please visit:

http://www.greenpeace.org


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