The rights of European Union (EU) food companies developing new plant varieties to prevent rivals from copying and exploiting their innovative work will be strengthened in 2005.

The European Commission has asked the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers to accede to the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, extending its scope throughout the EU.

It makes available, said a Commission note, “to breeders of new plant varieties an exclusive property right, on the basis of a set of uniform and clearly defined principles”. With EU ratification, this would create responsibilities and protection for all EU companies, not just those from countries previously ratifying this 1991 convention.