By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, Editor of Animal Breeding Abstracts
According to a recent report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), patenting activity in the field of animal genetics is focusing on medical and pharmaceutical markets, rather than animal products for human nutrition.
The Patent Landscape Report on Animal Genetic Resources was presented at the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Technical Group on Animal Genetic Resources at FAO in Rome on 27 November 2014. This report is the first ever large-scale quantitative analysis, grouping data on patenting activity involving livestock animals, and is the outcome of WIPO’s collaboration with the Animal Genetic Resources Branch of FAO.
More than 14 million patent documents on 17 animal species and subspecies, central to global agriculture and food security were analysed, spanning the period between 1976 and 2013.
A quantitative indicator of trends in patent activity for animal genetic resources has been developed - it can be updated and refined over time to respond to policy needs. The indicator shows that patenting in the area of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture peaked in 2001 and has been declining since then. It is speculated that this decline may be linked to more-restrictive patent laws and lagging consumer demand for genetically modified animals.
The study identified six main technology clusters in the patent data for animal genetic resources:
Artificial insemination, sex selection and control of oestrus; Marker assisted breeding (including Quantitative Trait Loci); Transgenic animals; Cloning animals; Xenotransplantation; and Animal models.
According to the study, the creation of transgenic animals using techniques such as somatic cell nuclear transfer has shifted from an initial focus on production for possible consumption to production for medical markets, such as the production of recombinant proteins in animals (biopharming or the use of animals as bioreactors).
The report also looked into the use of breed names and traditional knowledge and concluded that the majority of research and innovation focuses on mainstream breeds, such as Holstein cattle or Merino sheep rather than rarer breeds.
A vast amount of scientific literature on animal genetic resources, transgenic animals and patents in this field is available in the CAB Direct database. The literature, which originates from more than 150 countries and which is published in over 50 languages, is translated and indexed by CABI’s specialists for easy searching. The CAB Direct database currently contains more than 23,000 references with abstracts on animal genetic resources.
Related News & Blogs
How Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Enter the Food Chain in non-GMO Producing Countries – by Tatjana Brankov A superficial review of the legislation on transgenic foods and feeds indicates that consumers in non-GMO producing countries consume GMO-free food. However, less attention is paid to the fact that GMOs can enter the food chain through the import of transgenic foodstuff and feedstuff or by contamination. In some countries, transgenic food production is fully equal to conventional production. The concept of substantial equivalence, developed by the OECD and further elaborated by FAO/WHO “embodies the concept that if a new food or food component is found to be substantially equivalent to an existing food or food component, it can be treated in the same manner with respect to safety, i.e. the food or food component can be concluded to be as safe as the conventional food or food component” (FAO/WHO 1996). Such a situation exists in a number of countries, including the USA, where it has been estimated that up to 75% of processed foods on supermarket shelves, from soda to soup, and from crackers to condiments contain GMO ingredients (Center for Food Safety 2017). On the other side, EU countries apply the precautionary principle as a guiding approach for transborder movement of GMOs (Myhr and Traavik, 2002). As the EUR-Lex glossary explains, this principle “relates to an approach to risk management whereby, if there is the possibility that a given policy or action might cause harm to the public or the environment and if there is still no scientific consensus on the issue, the policy or action in question should not be pursued.”
29 January 2018