Letter of concern to the Dutch Parliament.

Date 29-5-2000

To Members of Dutch Parliament

Concerns: Change of Law on Patents on Biotechnology

Dear Members of the Dutch Parliament,

we ask your attention for the following matter. We have heard that you will decide upon a Law on Patents for Biotechnology on 30-5-2000. We urgently request that you take the following in consideration: We feel that there are several aspects of the EU Directive on Patents 98/44 which will have severe adverse effects.

  1. Worldwide, patents have been granted on traditional knowledge. This has allowed Western companies and scientific institutes to reap the benefit of traditional knowledge of Southern Peoples, monopolising it, and even excluding the same Southern People to sell it on the World market. This is a deep injustice. Also the genetic material of People themselves will become patentable, even without their knowledge or consent.
  2. Also, patents are being granted on agricultural crops. Obtaining patents, companies can control our daily food supply, and force farmers to buy new seeds every year, keeping prices high and, in bad years, unaffordable for small farmers should they have had a bad harvest the year before.

We were very pleased that the Dutch Government has shown disagreement with the EU Directive 98/44, and has contested it. We now urge you to keep supporting us, and not to implement this "License to Loot", which is in strong disagreement with international treaties such as the Convention on Biodiversity and the selfdetermination established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If it is not possible to delay implementation till after the Dutch judicial case has been won at the European Court and/or after thorough assessment of the Patent system has taken place in the Broad Societal Discourse that the Dutch Government allegedly promised to start this summer, we strongly urge you to make amendments considering the following:

The EU Directive has only been accepted by European Parliament because of the inclusion of several Articles enabling member states not to implement Patents which they resent.

Please use these possibilities to the maximum extent to make sure that patents do only what they should do: inspire innovation and protect companies form unfair competition from each other. Please keep supporting us.

Yours sincerely,

Appendix: two organisations have additions to the letter:

FAIR New Zealand:

We are totally opposed to patents on human, plant, and animal life. These will achieve nothing for people in general, only profits for a few. They will lock up open information and research. They will be rejected by indigenous populations, and indeed the revocation for a Western patent on the Neem plant from India is a good example of how these patents are ill-conceived, and a form of piracy of indigenous populations.

Although I cannot represent Maori, I can say that our own indigenous people reject life patents and are concerned with such developments in the WIPO. I suggest you talk to Te Puni Kokeri in Wellington NZ if more info is needed.

for FAIR NZ

S Sontier.


Marshals Community Service Corps Trust:

Dear Members of the Dutch Parliament,

We are appealing for your immediate and urgent attention on the above matter.

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We applaud the Dutch Government's disagreement with the EU Directive 98/44 as well as its contesting of the said Directive on human rights grounds. We now urge your solidarity with the poor of the people of the South and keep supporting us, and not to implement this "License to Loot". This is in contradiction with the letter and spirit of international treaties such as the Convention of Biodiversity aswell as self determination of people established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Your voice as representative of the Dutch people is dear to us as we are mindful also the strong tradition of solidarity shown in the past for matters which effect us as Southern people of the global community.

Yours sincerely,

Berend Schuitema

Executive Secretary of the Marshals Community Service Corps Trust
East London, Republic of South Africa
Tel/fax + 27 043 743 0601

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