Nestlé: Stop trying to patent the fennel flower.

Nestlé: Stop trying to patent the fennel flower.

Sitting on my bathroom shelf for quite some time now, is a bottle of cold-pressed Nigella Sativa oil, and also a container of Nigella Sativa capsules.  The list of reported health benefits of this relatively little known seed are lengthy.

HERE is an interesting article in support of that, including references to research.

Below is a piece taken from the SUM OF US  website, which my mum passed on to me . . .  and now I’m passing it on to you.

Read on below if you want to read what Nestle have to say about it too . . . It’s fair to read both sides, but I’ve signed the petition.


“Nigella sativa — more commonly known as fennel flower — has been used as a cure-all remedy for over a thousand years. It treats everything from vomiting to fevers to skin diseases, and has been widely available in impoverished communities across the Middle East and Asia.

But now Nestlé is claiming to own it, and filing patent claims around the world to try and take control over the natural cure of the fennel flower and turn it into a costly private drug.

Tell Nestlé: Stop trying to patent a natural cure

In a paper published last year, Nestlé scientists claimed to “discover” what much of the world has known for millennia: that nigella sativa extract could be used for “nutritional interventions in humans with food allergy”.

But instead of creating an artificial substitute, or fighting to make sure the remedy was widely available, Nestlé is attempting to create a nigella sativa monopoly and gain the ability to sue anyone using it without Nestlé’s permission. Nestlé has filed patent applications — which are currently pending — around the world.

Prior to Nestlé’s outlandish patent claim, researchers in developing nations such as Egypt and Pakistan had already published studies on the same curative powers Nestlé is claiming as its own. And Nestlé has done this before — in 2011, it tried to claim credit for using cow’s milk as a laxative, despite the fact that such knowledge had been in Indian medical texts for a thousand years.

Don’t let Nestlé turn a traditional cure into a corporate cash cow.

We know Nestlé doesn’t care about ethics. After all, this is the corporation that poisoned its milk with melamine, purchases cocoa from plantations that use child slave labor, and launched a breast milk substitute campaign in the 1970s that contributed to the suffering and deaths of thousands of babies from poor communities.

But we also know that Nestlé is sensitive to public outcry, and that it’s been beaten at the patent game before. If we act fast, we can put enough pressure on Nestlé to get it to drop its patent plans before they harm anyone — but if we want any chance at affecting Nestlé’s decision, we have to speak out now!

More Information:

Third World Network (PDF): Food giant Nestlé claims to have invented stomach soothing use of habbat al-barakah (Nigella sativa), 6 July, 2012 ”



” Is Nestlé patenting the fennel flower?

No. We’re not claiming to ‘own’ the fennel flower, nor are we trying to patent it. Our patent application relates only to the specific way that thymoquinone – a compound that can be extracted from the seed of the fennel flower – interacts with opioid receptors in the body and helps to reduce allergic reactions to food.

The fennel flower (also known as Nigella sativa, black seed and black cumin) is a natural species, and nobody could, or should, benefit from ownership over it. In accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity, we fully support the principle of fair access and benefit-sharing when it comes to the raw materials we use.

What is a patent?

A patent is an intellectual priority right granted by an official authority covering an invention. Most countries have patent legislation to promote innovation and encourage investment in research and development.

The inventors receive the exclusive right to use the invention for 20 years. In exchange for this exclusivity, the inventors disclose their invention to the public, so that after 20 years everybody can use it.

Why is patenting important to Nestlé?

Patenting is important for Nestle, as it is for all inventors, be they individuals, universities, small or large companies, in all sectors of the economy. Our patenting allows us an exclusivity period of the patent and assures us a return on investment for our products, which we then re-invest in new research.

What kind of patents does Nestlé have?

Our patents cover a diverse range of areas including aroma extraction from coffee, our Special T system and light-weight water bottles.

Fennel flower seed and its health benefits are well-known: from traditional remedies to recent research. Has Nestlé discovered new benefits from this plant?

Fennel flower seed has been widely used in India and other countries for centuries and its benefits are widely appreciated. In recent years, researchers have published various studies on the positive effects of fennel flower seed in treating various allergies, including those affecting the respiratory system, but not specifically food allergy.

Our scientists have discovered and researched a specific aspect of the way thymoquinone – a compound found in fennel flower seed – interacts with opioid receptors in the body to help reduce allergic reactions to foods.

What is thymoquinone?

Thymoquinone is a phytochemical compound found in the fennel flower and other plants. Research suggests it offers a wide range of potential health benefits.

What are opioid receptors?

Opioid receptors are specific cell surface receptors within the central and peripheral nervous system, as well as the gastrointestinal tract.

What would Nestlé’s patent cover?

Thymoquinone itself has been studied regarding allergies. It’s a natural compound of the fennel flower and other plants. Protecting the ingredient itself is not the aim of our patent. Rather, we aim to protect the findings of our research on the interactions between thymoquinone, or similar compounds, and the body’s opioid receptors, and how this interaction can help reduce allergic reactions to foods.

Would other companies still be able to use thymoquinone to develop products with health benefits?

Other companies could clearly use thymoquinone if the product containing thymoquinone has not been developed based on our scientific findings.

Would I still be able to use fennel flower in cooking, or for self-medication, for example?

Yes, you would be able to use the fennel flower for cooking and other purposes, just as you always have done.

Why is Nestlé working to treat food allergies?

Food allergies are a significant public health problem, especially in children. We focus our research on finding ways to help people stay healthy through the food they eat. This includes identifying bioactive ingredients from plants and evaluating their impact on health. “



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