NGOs including Greenpeace, the Catholic charity Misereor, and globally networked small-scale farmers urged Danish brewer Carlsberg to voluntarily relinquish three patents on barley used for the production of beer.
Carlsberg and Heineken were granted two patents in April for barley mutations with certain enzymes that allow more distinctive, flavor-stable beers. The barley, used for malting and in the brewing process has a lower content of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) causing an undesirable ‘cooked sweet corn’ taste. In September Carlsberg was granted a third patent for barley with a lower content of linoleic acid. This allows energy savings in the brewhouse during the boiling process where stale flavors in the later beer are being reduced.
Christoph Then, coordinator of No Patents on Seeds, which is the name of the alliance against bio-patents, said "there should be no patents on beer and brewing barley. The cultivation of plants and beer brewing stems from a centuries-old tradition."
In early November, the alliance welcomed a European Commission reaffirmation of a 1998 EU directive that plants and animals resulting from "essentially biological" breeding could not be patented.