Patent on Indian melon opposed

Environment activist Vandana Shiva together with an European NGO today filed an opposition against the US company Monsanto's patent on Indian melon.

The patent, granted in May 2011 as an invention of the US company Monsanto by European Patent Office, claims melons with a natural resistance to certain plant viruses originating in India.

Shiva's group 'Navdanya' and the European NGO-platform 'No Patent on Seeds' have together filed the opposition against the patent, a Navdanya release said here.

It said the patent was granted even though European patent law does not allow patents on conventional breeding.

"We believe that plants and seeds are not human inventions and therefore not patentable.

This patent is based on biopiracy since it patents traits taken from indigenous melon varieties from India. There is an urgent need to ban all patents on life and living organisms including genes, breeding material and biodiversity," says Shiva.

She further said that for several years, the plant disease Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV) has been spreading through North America, Europe and North Africa.

The Indian melon which confers resistance to this virus is registered in international seed banks, she added.

Shiva said with the new patent Monsanto can now block access to all breeding material inheriting the resistance derived from the Indian melon. The patent might discourage future breeding efforts and the development of new melon varieties.

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