Frantisek Gela / (Dutch government building, The Hague)
23 April 2015Biotechnology

Biotechs 'concerned' by Dutch plans for plant breeders

Biotechnology companies are concerned about the Dutch government’s plans to allow small plant breeders to develop new breeds while avoiding paying licensing fees, according to reports.

News website has reported that Sharon Dijksma, state secretary of economic affairs, is planning to revise current EU patent legislation to favour smaller plant breeders.

Dijksma’s plan is to allow small plant growers the freedom to develop new plant breeds without paying licensing fees to larger companies. It is hoped the move will prevent a few multinational companies from dominating the world food market.

The politician hopes to roll out the proposals when the Netherlands is appointed as Presidency of the Council of the EU next year.

The presidency of the council, a country rather than an individual, is responsible for chairing meetings of the council, determining agendas, setting a work programme and facilitating dialogue both at council meetings and with other EU institutions.

It rotates between EU member states every six months.

Financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad (Financial Daily) said that the idea is widely supported by the Dutch parliament, but biotechs are worried about losing investments if the plans are passed.

Annemiek Verkamman, director of biotech industry organisation HollandBIO, told the paper: “Fiddling around with patent law will lead to enormous legal uncertainties for hundreds of Dutch biotech firms, whether they are working to develop biofuels, medicines or gene therapies.”

A spokesperson for Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta said in the article: “We want to prevent everyone being able to take over our inventions without contributing to the cost of the research.”

The Dutch government did not respond to LSIPR’s request for comment.

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