Biotech Updates

Global Status of Patent Protection for Transgenic Events of Major Crops

December 10, 2010

Intellectual property (IP) protection is a basic foundation for the commercialization of transgenic crops. Liu Lijun and his colleague from the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences(CAAS) and China Center for Intellectual Property in Agriculture, CAAS, analyzed the status of patent protection for transgenic events of major crops around the world and in particular, China. The research is published in the latest issue of China Biotechnology. Results showed that majority of the transgenic events of major crops are held by multinational agro-biological companies, such as Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer.

About 40% of the events are filed for patent protection. Some 22 applications are claimed by China with 6 applications already granted. The number of claims is around 20% of patents on the average, which cover key technical features like flanking sequence and insertion sequence. The boundaries almost prevent any unauthorized commercial use. In contrast, China has not filed actual patents on its self-owned events except the patent on the Bt rice "Huahui No.1" which was granted a biosafety certificate in 2009. Thus, Liu puts forward the following suggestions to Chinese policy makers:

  • Intensively foster self-owned IP on events.
  • Analyze the dynamic trends of targeted foreign patents.
  • Broaden the patent protection scope of Chinese developed transgenic events.
  • Achieve a higher degree of patent protection on self-owned transgenic events.
  • Set up a fully- integrated IP protection system for the agro-biotechnology industry.

For the abstract in Chinese, visit, For more biotech info in China, email Prof. Zhang Hongxiang  of China Biotechnology Information Center  at