Monday, April 22, 2013

Nestle's seed patent application and its human milk component patent

I have received a variety of communications regarding Nestle and its financial interest in a plant called Nigella sativa (Black Cumin, Black Seed).  In fact most of the communications are about signing a petition to, "Tell Nestle to stop trying to patent a natural cure."  So I decided to look up their patent application and get an idea of what was going on.  Nestec S.A. (Nestle) has a US patent application called, "Opioid receptors stimulating compounds (Thymoquinone, Nigella Sativa) and food allergy," #20120142580 which was filed in 2010.  The abstract states, "It was found that the stimulation of opioid receptors could be used to treat or prevent food allergy." and "One of the plants containing thymoquinone is Nigella sativa (Black Cumin, Black Seed).  It has been used for centuries as a spice and medicinal plant in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Asia Minor, and India."  They detail various methods to extract thymoquinone, although Nigella sativa is one of several plants they might use.  They mention the possibility of using Eupatorium ayapana ( white snakeroot, Philippines), Satureja montana (winter savory), or Thymus.  It kind of reminded me of the human milk component patents in which Nestle might use human, bovine, or buffalo milks.  We don't know and they aren't going to tell us.  For those interested in signing the petition,

I find myself somewhat baffled about this petition.  At least 3 or 4 different people or organizations sent me the information on this petition.  So I scratch my head and wonder why no one is interested in the patents (not just applications) that Nestle owns on human milk components.  We are upset about their declarations of methods to extract a component from a plant (actually plants and we know not which plants) but we aren't upset over their declarations of methods to extract a component from human milk.  Human milk has also been used for centuries to cure various ills:  eye infections, wound healing, etc.  It is human survival against the pathogens in our environment.  It is a child's true genetic inheritance. Breastfeeding is the heirloom of heirlooms.  It is a richness we should not abandon to commercialism.
Let us look at patent #7524815 entitled, "Osteoprotegerin in milk," owned by Nestec (Nestle).  The source of osteoprotegerin is from milk:  human, cow, and maybe buffalo.  And then maybe it will be genetically engineered.  Like the above patent we will not know what they use.  Osteoprotegerin will be used to prevent or treat "disorders associated with bone metabolism and immune function."  Surprisingly or not so surprisingly, the patent discusses very little about cow or buffalo milks.  Its all about human milk.

"In the studies leading to the present invention, it has now surprisingly been found that in addition to its presence in e.g. bone tissues, osteoprotegerin may also be found in human breast milk."  One of the advantages of human breast milk is its stability and its resistance to degradation in the gut.  It will be used in foods (infants and particularly preterm infants) and treatments or prophylaxis of bone remodeling.  

Words escape me.  Wake up, people, wake up....
Copyright 2013 Valerie W. McClain 


  1. I hear you, and am horrified. But I do not have the capacity to take on one more 'cause'. Perhaps there are others like me. Is there some way you can initiate a petition (, addressed to the significant parties, or something similar, so that supporters can just quickly and easily show their backing?

  2. Yes, I created a petition at entitled, "Nestle, Stop Patenting Human Milk Components. It is a free website but ipetitions asks for donations to maintain their site. You vote is counted whether or not you donate to their site.