Bt brinjal makers may be sued for bio-piracy
The National Biodiversity Authority is likely to prosecute the makers of Bt brinjal — India’s first genetically modified food crop — for allegedly using at least 10 local varieties of the vegetable without permission, flouting a requirement under the National Biodiversity Act.delhi Updated: Aug 12, 2011 01:42 IST
The National Biodiversity Authority is likely to prosecute the makers of Bt brinjal — India’s first genetically modified food crop — for allegedly using at least 10 local varieties of the vegetable without permission, flouting a requirement under the National Biodiversity Act.Bt brinjal was developed in India under a public-private collaboration by seed company Mahyco, with a key gene provided by $11.8 billion-a-year US agricultural giant Monsanto Co. Karnataka’s University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad, the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research and Sathguru Management Consultants Pvt. Ltd also partnered in the project.
Sathguru Management Consultants Pvt Ltd was the national coordinator for the agriculture biotechnology support project (APSP-II), which paved the way for Bt. Brinjal.
The developers used local eggplant varieties to develop Bt brinjal, which took nine years of scientific research.
“In principle, law was violated. This is our allegation. It is for the court to decide,” an official of the authority said, requesting anonymity.
The decision casts yet another shadow on the transgenic eggplant, which was put under an indefinite moratorium in February last year despite being cleared for commercial release.
India is a signatory to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, and along with the National Biodiversity Act, it gives the country sovereign rights over its biological resources.
An official resolution taken by the NBA states: “It was decided that the NBA may proceed legally against Ms. Mahyco/ Ms Monsanto, and all others concerned to take the issue to its logical conclusion.”
A Monsanto spokesperson said Bt brinjal was entirely developed by Mahyco, where it has a minority stake.
In one of its communication to the government, Mahyco has stated that it had merely applied the Cry 1Ac gene — the key engine of Bt brinjal — to local varieties provided by the state-run Dharwad-based agriculture university.
First Published: Aug 11, 2011 23:10 IST