Cancel the Enola Bean Patent!

A US patent on a yellow bean variety ("Enola" bean patent # 5,894,079) has disrupted export markets for Mexican bean growers and is now wreaking havoc on small farmers and seed companies in the United States. Larry Proctor, the president of Pod-Ners seed company, and owner of the controversial US patent on a yellow-colored bean variety, filed a lawsuit on 30 November 2001 against 16 small bean seed companies and farmers in Colorado (USA). The patent makes it illegal for unlicensed users in the United States to grow, sell, import, or use the proprietary yellow bean seeds. Farmer and civil society organizations have condemned the Enola bean patent as a textbook case of biopiracy because Proctor readily admits that his proprietary bean seed originates from a bag of edible dry beans he purchased in Sonora, Mexico in 1994. In his 1997 application for plant variety protection, Proctor wrote, "The yellow bean, 'Enola' variety is most likely a landrace from the azufrado-type varieties" (which originate in Mexico). The Enola bean patent is being legally challenged by an international plant breeding institute in Cali, Colombia, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). The challenge is supported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. CIAT's legal challenge points out the yellow bean was "misappropriated" from Mexico, and violates Mexico's sovereign rights over its genetic resources, as recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity. See "Enola Bean Patent Challenged", RAFI News Release January 5, 2001 It has been over one year since CIAT filed its request for re-examination of the Enola bean patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The PTO's decision has been stalled because Proctor's lawyers have amended the original patent by filing 43 new claims! Email campaigns targeting the US Patent & Trademark Office are rare. However, since there is no alternative avenue for civil society to register its concern, we invite you to send an email message to the newly appointed director of the US PTO, urging him to give careful consideration to the re-examination and re-issue of US Patent # 5,894,079 on a yellow bean of Mexican origin. Tell the PTO to cancel the Enola bean patent and all of its new claims! (Letter were directed to The Honorable James E. Rogan-Stephen.Kunin@USPTO.GOV)