Thursday, 10 June 2010

Chile promotes biodiversity with its native plants

This week, the magazine ‘Del Campo’ – El mercurio, bring us the news that the Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) (the Agricultural Research Institute) of Chile patented two varieties of the native Chilean plant named murtilla (Myrtus ugni) in the United States.

Trying to be more accurate I started to seek more information about this and I found that in fact, there are two patent applications in the US Patent and Trademark Office (2008) but they have not yet being granted. Patents are seek for the varieties named: South Pearl - INIA (Patent Application No 20080313781) and Red Pearl – INIA (Patent Application No 20080313782).

Background
The murtilla produces red berries (known by some as cranberries) which are becoming increasingly attractive due to its nutritional and health properties. In 1996, the INIA initiated a research project to domesticate murtilla and to develop berries that were suitable for commercial production. The journalist affirms that by patenting they are at the first step of “protecting the national heritage”. However, the patent as such will not protect the native plant but only these new varieties (genetically enhanced).

For example, in Australia there are projects for successfully growing and supplying the fruit. The Tas Myrtus Berries Pty Ltd (TMB) is commercialising M. ugni berries (Tazziberry®).

According to the info, the Instituto is also looking at the protection of these new varieties in New Zeland, Australia, Argentina and Brazil.

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