NETHERLANDS FILES SUIT TO CANCEL EU PATENTING OF PLANTS AND ANIMALS Agence France Presse 19 October1998
THE HAGUE, Oct 19 (AFP) - The Dutch government filed a suit with the European Court of Justice on Monday in a bid to cancel a directive over the patenting of biotechnological discoveries, the economics ministry said.
The EU Life Patents Directive, which came into being in July, permits the patenting of biotechnological discoveries, such as the genetic manipulation of plants and animals as well as the technical methods used to change the organisms.
The Dutch government, which voted against extending biotechnological patents to plants and animals, filed an appeal seeking to nullify the directive on legal grounds, claiming that it violated international treaties and basic human rights, the economics ministry spokesman said.
"We voted against the directive because we felt it went too far and should not have included patents on living beings," the spokesman added.
The challenge was hailed by pressure groups.
"We want to see the court throw out the directive altogether because it is unnecessary," Secretary General of the European Campaign on Biotechnology Patents, Thomas Schweiger, said.
"The existing European Patent Convention works fine. It grants patents on real biotechnological inventions, but excludes patents on, for example, plants and animals.
"There is no need to change this," Schweiger said in a statement, adding that many believe the directive is immoral, unethical and in violation of several international treaties.
Copyright Â© 1998, Agence France Presse
DUTCH TAKE EU BIOTECH PATENT LAW TO EUROPEAN COURT
Reuters 20 October 1998
AMSTERDAM, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The Netherlands is to challenge the validity of the European Union's biotechnology patent law in the European Court.
The move represents a setback for the European pharmaceutical industry which had hoped the decade-long debate had finally been resolved.
The European Parliament passed legislation in May [sic] permitting patents for biotech inventions with certain exceptions. Patents would not be allowed, for example, for procedures to clone human beings or for commercial use of embryos.
The Netherlands, however, has put up strong resistance to the idea of patents for living things.
"We find patents for plants and animals unethical,' a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs told Reuters.
The Dutch have lodged their challenge with the European Court on procedural rather than substantive grounds.
The court case could take up to two years.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.