Less than a week ago, Monsanto got more than a slap on the wrist from the Indian government – they were delivered two fat rejections – one from the patent appeals court and another rejection that was upheld by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
Dismissing Monsanto’s appeal were the Honorable Justice Prabha Sridevi, Chair of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board of India, and the Honorable Shri DPS Parmar, technical member. If you would like to personally thank these individuals for standing up to corporate greed and the domination of the world food supply, you can contact them via the web addresses listed below:
Monsanto’s patent application was refused for both“Methods of Enhancing Stress Tolerance in plants and methods thereof,” and “A method of producing a transgenic plant, with increasing heat tolerance, salt tolerance or drought tolerance.” The patent office refused the claims because:
“ . . .there were no ‘inventive steps’ and as of the Patents act of 1970. . .as structure and function of cold shock protein was already known in cited prior art and it is obvious to person skilled in plant to make transgenic plant; (iii) It is mere application of already known cold shock protein in producing cold stress tolerant plant and tolerant to heat, salt and drought conditions, claims fall within the scope of Section 3(d) of The Patents Act, 1970. (iv) The patent office found that it is not patentable under 3(j) as claims also include essential biological process of regeneration and selection, which includes growing of plant in specific stress condition.”
Part of the reason Monsanto was not able to pass their patents is because the 1970 Patent Act excluded patents in agriculture and medicine. The act had to be amended when India signed the World Trade Agreement (including sections covering Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights). Strong sections of the Act, like ‘what are not inventions’ in clause 3 and the especially 3d, “excludes as inventions the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance,’ were key in Monsanto’s refusal. It was this same clause that kept the Novartis pharmaceutical company from patenting a known cancer-curing drug. They tried to challenge this in the Supreme Court of India, but lost. Many are saying that what the Novaris case is to our global Right to Health, the new refusal of Monsanto’s patents are the same Right to Seed and Right to Livelihood for farmers.
There are supposedly 27000 farmers who have committed acts similar to a farmer in Bhiwandi taluka, India, who consumed pesticide after his crops failed miserably due to draught and increased debts to companies like Monsanto. Farmers have been petitioning the Indian government to help lift them out of poverty. While not every farmer blames Monsanto directly, the majority of these farmer suicides happen in the cotton belt, where Monsanto controls 95% of the cotton seed supply with Bt cotton. The costs of the seeds jumped more than 8000% with the introduction of Bt cotton. If you haven’t already heard, Bt damages red blood cells.
Monsanto’s attempts to patent further seeds and bankrupt entire generations of farmers and their families that have successfully farmed for centuries have been halted – at least in India – for now.