ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

Date:  28 November 2000


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European Patent Conference closed by Greenpeace

Munich, 23 November 2000 - Following the ongoing resistance bydelegates of the European Patent Conference currently conveiningin Munich to discuss the issue of "Patents on Life", Greenpeacetoday suspended the conference for the time being.

This morning35 activists from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France,Luxembourg, Italy and Denmark blocked the entrances to thevenue of the conference (the European Patent Office) and preventedthe delegations from entering.

Greenpeace now calls on thegovernments to stand up to their political responsibility and urgently address the question of patents on life. "The civil cervants who are in Munich to negotiate the future of European patent law, are consistently ignoring the protests and worries of the public," explained Christoph Then of Greanpeace.

"Whilst industry lobbyists are allowed access to the conference, the interest of the public have been locked out. Now Greenpeace has locked the delegations out."

Strong criticism against the patenting of life has come from many sides. A current poll in Germany showed 84% of the people expressing opposition against patents on living organisms and their genes; in Austria 1,2 million citizens signed a petition against patents on life a few years ago. The Council of Europe in Strasbourg passed 2 resolutions during the past year, calling on a moratorium of patents on genes, plants, animals and parts of the human body; representations of farmers and European doctors have expressed their opposition as well.

Churches and Ethic Commissions in several countries (e.g.France, Denmark) have rejected the idea of patents on life as immoral. Criticism increasingly comes also from parts of industry and scientists.

Even the governments and parliaments of 6 countries (Germany,The Netherlands, Italy, France, Belgium and Norway) have voiced concern. Nevertheless, their delegations at the Patent Conference have so far not acted accordingly. Instead they have avoided the issue and last Tuesday once again opted to have non-industry NGOs like Greenpeace be excluded.

"By closing the conference of these incompetent technocrats we give the governments the chance to correct their delegations arrogant behaviour," said Then. "We are calling on ministers to start the open dialouge with the public on this fundamental issue."

For more information in situ you can give the contacts of Thomas Schweiger +49.171.8780.844
Christoph Then +49-171.8780.832


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