During the 1990’s the Beneforte broccoli was created by Professor Richard Mithen at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. This new variety is rich in glucoraphanin, a substance which research suggests could help to maintain cardiovascular health and to help reduce the risk of cancer, and is available now at retailers in UK, Europe and the USA.
The research centre’s patent on the vegetable has been the subject of a legal case with the European Patent Office (EPO) for several years. This case focused on whether plants such as broccoli could be patented under European law because they are made by biological processes. However it was decided that plants made be essentially biological processes should not be excluded from patentability. Professor Dale Sanders, director at the John Innes Centre, told the Eastern Daily Press: “This decision will help scientists attract the investment needed to make their innovations available to consumers.”