§ Mr. Battle
I have been asked to reply.
The Patents Act 1977 sets down the requirements which must be met to obtain patents for inventions in all fields of technology. Under this Act it is possible to patent genes for use in any manufacturing sector; the food sector included. However, the mere discovery that a gene exists in nature, when there has been no technical step, is not patentable. During negotiations on a recently adopted EC Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions (98/44/EC), the United Kingdom Government ensured that the Directive does not extend what is patentable in this area.
The Directive also confirms that patent rights are granted without prejudice to other legislation. Thus, if a patented gene is used in the manufacture of food products, its use is subject to all other legislation which controls such acts, including those laws protecting human and animal health and the environment.