An article on Natural News claims that

EPO granted Monsanto a patent on conventionally-bred broccoli, which includes not only broccoli seeds but also the "severed broccoli head" and the "plurality of broccoli plants ... grown in a field of broccoli" - in other words, broccoli in all of its natural forms.

Is this accurate - has such a wide patent on broccoli (e.g. including forms of natural broccoli not developed by Monstanto) been granted, and is it accurate to summarize it as a patent on broccoli "in all of its natural forms"?


1 Answer 1


Using the EPO patent search, it is relatively easy to reject that such a patent has been granted.

EPO has not granted any patents directly to Montsano containing the word "broccoli" (search term: "Brocolli ia=Monsanto").

The patent you are linking to in your comment EP 1 597 965 B1 is the only patent granted by the EPO containing the word "broccoli". The patent proprietor "Seminis Vegetable Seeds, Inc." is owned by Monsanto, so even if it was not granted to Monsanto, it is indeed owned by Monsanto.

The patent does however not cover conventionally bred broccoli, but a modified variety, basically with a longer stalk with less leaves than conventional varieties, making it easier to mechanically harvest the crop.

A patent grant is not confirmation of the patent's validity. Patent offices do examine the patent application, but it is not possible for a patent office to perform a complete search for prior art. I believe that conventionally bred broccoli would be found to be prior art, making a granted patent invalid IMHO.

  • 2
    It is difficult to trust empty patent searches as proof of absense - e.g. your third paragraph demonstrates that the search term in your second paragraph is insufficient: searching for "Monsanto" isn't enough.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 10:27
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    In fact, I get 23 hits when I search for broccoli: register.epo.org/…
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 10:31
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    and no, the prior existence of broccoli does not indicate prior art, as the patent is for a specific application of a specific mutation, not a blanket patent on growing broccoli.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 10:43
  • @Oddthinking: The other 22 patents are not yet granted but still in the application and examination process. Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 10:50
  • @jwenting: I was not saying that the patent I linked to is void because of prior art. The article in Natural News claims that "EPO granted Monsanto a patent on conventionally-bred broccoli", which seem to be false. But if such a patent had been granted, it would IMHO been void because of obvious prior art. Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 10:52

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