Transgenes in maize/Bean patent invalid
2.Enola Patent Ruled Invalid
EXTRACTS: "What makes absolutely no sense is that an invalid patent was allowed to stand for more than a decade”š that's half the lifespan of a patent! Furthermore, although farmers and seed companies on both sides of the border have been denied lucrative markets for ten years, they will not be compensated."
"A system that favors patent holders at the expense of the common good and takes more than a decade to right an obvious wrong should be considered broken beyond repair." (item 2)
1.Further Evidence of Transgenes in Maize in Mexico
TWN BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE, 16 July 2009
Dear Friends and colleagues,
We wish to bring to attention a recent study which reported the results of an extensive survey for transgenes in landrace Mexican maize, using protein based tests for Cry1Ab (Bt) and EPSPS (Roundup). The study found transgenes in 3.1% and 1.8% of samples, respectively, from samples taken in 2001, 2002, and 2004.
The study combined an analysis of seed dispersal dynamics through farmer exchange systems and molecular methods, and follows with a discussion on the implications on population genetics. Based on their results, the assumptions of the Mexican government that transgenic maize field release in areas of commercial production will not contaminate landraces seems unlikely. It also confirms earlier studies that has found traces of trangenes in maize varieties in various parts of Mexico.
The full document is available at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0005734
With best wishes,
Third World Network
Website: www.biosafety-info.net and www.twnside.org.sg
Dispersal of Transgenes through Maize Seed Systems in Mexico
George A. Dyer (1)*, J Antonio Serratos-Hernandez (2), Hugo R. Perales (3), Paul Gepts (4), Alma PinÃ‚Ëœ eyro-Nelson (5), Angeles Chavez (6), NoeÃ‚´ Salinas-Arreortua (7), Antonio YuÃ‚´nez-Naude (6), J. Edward Taylor (1,8), Elena R. Alvarez-Buylla (5)*
(1) Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America,
(2) Universidad AutoÃ‚´noma de la Ciudad de
Mexico, Mexico, Distrito Federal, Mexico,
(3) Departamento de AgroecologÄ±Ã‚´a, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, San Cristobal, Chiapas, MeÃ‚´xico,
(4) Department of Plant Sciences, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America,
(5) Laboratorio de GeneÃ‚´ tica Molecular, Desarrollo y EvolucioÃ‚´n de Plantas, Instituto de EcologÄ±Ã‚´a, Universidad Nacional AutoÃ‚´noma de MeÃ‚´xico, Distrito Federal, MeÃ‚´xico,
(6) El Colegio de MeÃ‚´ xico, Distrito Federal, MeÃ‚´xico,
(7) Universidad AutoÃ‚´noma Metropolitana, Distrito Federal, MeÃ‚´xico,
(8) Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, Davis, California, United States of America
Objectives: Current models of transgene dispersal focus on gene flow via pollen while neglecting seed, a vital vehicle for gene flow in centers of crop origin and diversity. We analyze the dispersal of maize transgenes via seeds in Mexico, the cropÃ‚’s cradle.
Methods: We use immunoassays (ELISA) to screen for the activity of recombinant proteins in a nationwide sample of farmer seed stocks. We estimate critical parameters of seed population dynamics using household survey data and combine these estimates with analytical results to examine presumed sources and mechanisms of dispersal.
Results: Recombinant proteins Cry1Ab/Ac and CP4/EPSPS were found in 3.1% and 1.8% of samples, respectively. They are most abundant in southeast Mexico but also present in the west-central region. Diffusion of seed and grain imported from the
United States might explain the frequency and distribution of transgenes in west-central Mexico but not in the southeast.
Conclusions: Understanding the potential for transgene survival and dispersal should help design methods to regulate the diffusion of germplasm into local seed stocks. Further research is needed on the interactions between formal and informal seed systems and grain markets in centers of crop origin and diversification.
Citation: Dyer GA, Serratos-HernaÃ‚´ndez JA, Perales HR, Gepts P, PinÃ‚Ëœ eyro-Nelson A, et al. (2009) Dispersal of Transgenes through Maize Seed Systems in Mexico. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5734. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005734
Editor: Hany A. El-Shemy, Cairo University, Egypt
Received February 13, 2009; Accepted May 4, 2009; Published May 29, 2009
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
2.Enola Patent Ruled Invalid: Haven't we Bean here before?
(Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.)
ETC Group News Release, 14 July 2009
On July 10, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that U.S. patent 5,894,079 (the "Enola" bean patent), which claims a yellow bean of Mexican origin, is invalid because none of the patent claims meet the criterion of non-obviousness. The case has been closely watched by civil society groups concerned about biopiracy, the patenting of life and the corporate control of food production. The Court's clear 7-page decision argues that anyone interested in reproducing or improving Mexican yellow beans would have done exactly what the "inventor" Larry Proctor did: "plant the beans, harvest the resulting plants for their seeds, planting the latter seeds, and repeat the process two more times." The decision concludes with an appeal to "common sense" in upholding a previous rejection of the patent by the Board of Patent Appeals.
"What makes absolutely no sense is that an invalid patent was allowed to stand for more than a decade Ã‚”š that's half the lifespan of a patent!" argues Kathy Jo Wetter of ETC Group. "Furthermore, although farmers and seed companies on both sides of the border have been denied lucrative markets for ten years, they will not be compensated."
Almost a decade ago, ETC Group (then RAFI) denounced the Enola bean patent, granted April 13, 1999, as predatory on the knowledge and genetic resources of indigenous peoples and farming communities, the true innovators of Mexico's yellow beans. ETC Group requested that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) investigate the "Mexican bean biopiracy" as a likely violation of a 1994 Trust Agreement ensuring that designated crop germplasm would be kept in the public domain and off-limits to intellectual property claims. The Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT, a CGIAR center), with support from FAO, filed an official challenge at the end of 2000. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office reexamined the patent and, in late 2003, issued the first of four rejections. Two "final" rejections came in 2005, when the patent was six years old. The patent owner appealed, and the Board of Patent
Appeals ruled the patent invalid again in April 2008 Ã‚”š Enola's patentability had now been rejected four times. It was this ruling that the patent owner was trying to overturn in the latest, the fifth and presumably the last, review of the Enola case.
Soon after he won his patent in 1999, Larry Proctor of Colorado, USA, charged that Mexican farmers were infringing his rights by selling yellow beans in the United States and shipments were stopped at the border. Proctor also sued seed companies and farmers selling or growing the Mexican yellow bean in the United States. "The patent system enabled a holder of an unjust patent to monopolize markets for a decade Ã‚”š farmers and small seed companies can't wait ten years for a patent challenge to be decided," says Silvia Ribeiro from ETC Group's office in Mexico. "A system that favors patent holders at the expense of the common good and takes more than a decade to right an obvious wrong should be considered broken beyond repair."
For more on the long, painful and colorful history of the patenting of Mexico's yellow bean in the United States, see ETC Group's archive at http://www.etcgroup.org/en/archives.html and search for "enola."
For more information:
Phone: +1 919 688 7302
Phone: 011 52 5555 6326 64
Phone: +1 514 273 6661; cell +1 514 629 9236
Phone: +1 613 241 2267; cell +1 613 261 8580
 The Court of Appeals' decision In Re Pod-ners, L.L.C., can be downloaded here: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/dailylog.html