Queensland LNP senator Barry O’Sullivan has vowed to fight an ‘assault’ on Australian agriculture by backing changes to patent laws.
The reform push comes after a joint bid by US gene-tech investor Branhaven and global meat giant Cargill USA to patent cattle selection methods was rejected in the Federal Court earlier in the month.
The judgment indicated if the patent’s focus was narrowed it could be awarded, which would allow them to charge cattle breeders for groundbreaking genetic technology.
‘This is an assault on an entire industry in this country and I mean it seriously,’ Senator O’Sullivan told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday.
‘Dairy people, sheep people, goat people – they need to be watching this very carefully.’
Meat and Livestock Australia managing director Richard Norton urged the government to look at legislation to prevent similar claims being made.
‘The granted patent is likely to have a chilling effect on Australian research into cattle genomics – genomics being inheritable traits,’ Mr Norton said.
Senator O’Sullivan warned all livestock farmers should be ‘petrified’ about the ramifications for food production.
‘I agree with the contemplation that we need to review the law in relation to patents generally, but certainly a focus on patents in agriculture,’ he said.
The patent case is due to return to court on Friday.