Patent on barley and beer upheld

The patent claims non-genetically bred barley plants, their harvest and the beer produced thereof.  No Patents on Seeds! is concerned about serious negative impacts such patents can have, as these might also be granted on vegetables, fruits and other food plants.

“This is a bad day not only for breweries and barley breeders but because a patent was upheld that should never have been granted. Patents like this are impacting diversity in agro-ecosystems, innovation in breeding and the interest of consumers”, Christoph Then says for No Patents on Seeds!.” Consequently, the EPO did not raise any bar against further similar patents. Now, there might be even more patents on beer and barley in the future.”

Carlsberg has already filed around a dozen similar patent applications. To this end, the genome of barley was systematically screened for relevant genetic variations that may have useful traits. These include, for example, randomly induced mutations that influence the process of brewing and the flavour of the beer after storage. The EPO has already granted four patents, and oppositions have been filed against three of them.

The case of a German barley breeder that was made public this week, shows how patents on seeds can hamper or completely block the development of new varieties. These negative impacts can also occur without any factual patent infringement. The reason: the technical and legal uncertainties associated with these patent applications incur substantial costs for laboratory analysis and patent lawyers that are too high a hurdle for many breeders.

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