21 November 2016
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Genetically engineered cow patent is moody

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has launched a legal appeal against Cargill USA and Branhaven after the companies a patent application for cattle selection methods.

The action was filed in the Federal Court of Australia on 17 November. MLA considers the application as an attempt to patent a general discovery of nature in cattle research.

MLA filed an opposition to the patent application with IP Australia earlier this year on the ground that the underlying invention lacked inventiveness.

It said the applied-for patent is so broad that it affects genomic selection for all cattle production traits.

But IP Australia denied the opposition, stating that it failed on “all grounds except for a minor issue which can be rectified by amendment”.

Richard Norton, managing director of the MLA, recently spoke at the company’s annual general meeting in Hahndorf, Australia, highlighting the significant scientific and financial implications for the research industry if the patent is issued.

“At minimum, MLA believes the granting of the patent will discourage or hamper industry research into understanding the natural genetic makeup of cattle and the continued progress of Australia’s national genetic improvement programs,” the company said in a statement.

This is not the first time MLA has entered legal action against bovine-related patent applications. The company previously opposed a similar patent by Agriculture Victoria Services.

According to reports, Cargill said that it will not actively defend the appeal and will work with all interested parties to seek an alternative resolution.

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