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    European Parliament gives green light to the use of NGTs in Europe

    • Patents
    • Plant Breeders' Rights

    The European Parliament voted in favor of a new regulation on New Genomic Techniques (NGT’s) as specialized ruling in addition to the GMO Directive 2001/18/EC to allow the introduction of plants developed via NGT’s on the European market without the need for the extensive safety regulations that are required for the introduction of GMO’s. This deregulation will allow the use of NGT’s in plant breeding and thus increase the possibilities and speed in breeding. This is great news for innovation.


     
    At the same timevthe European Parliament has put forward a proposal to amend the Biotech (Patent) Directive 98/44/EC in order to restrict the patentability of plant traits developed via NGT’s.
     
    Senior Plant breeders' rights attorney Judith De Roos sees opportunities for breeders: “Looking at the demands from the market to breed better and more sustainable varieties the possibility to start using NGT’s will help breeders to faster respond to these challenges. However, it is important to consider the blocking effect that patents can have when they are used to deny access to the use of essential traits by other breeders. The right balance should be found between effective IP protection to safeguard these innovations and the access to further use these traits.”
     
    The Parliament is concerned these patents may create legal uncertainties and will limit the breeders’ exemption as in place in the plant variety rights system. The discussion regarding the potential patentability exclusion will need to be considered both in regard to the Biotech (Patent) Directive and to the European Patent Convention, as these two operate in connection to one another. We do not expect an outcome of this discussion to be finalized on short notice.
     
    Biotechnology expert and Senior European Patent Attorney René J. Raggers comments: “Any outcome on patentability of NGT products should provide a way for smaller businesses to access genetic material fairly, without unfair licensing terms. At the same time, we should respect the need for fair protection for those who innovate new traits. We help plant breeders and biotech companies every day and will keep guiding them to find the right balance in the rapidly changing and vital field of plant technology.”

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