Justice Prabha Sridevi is the Chair of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board of India. Along with Hon Shri DPS Parmar, a technical member, they dismissed Monsanto’s appeal against the rejection of their patent application to the Patent office for “Methods of Enhancing Stress Tolerance in plants and methods thereof.” It’s great to see India denying Monsanto a patent for this genetically-engineered method of increasing climate resilience in plants. There are other ways, farmers have already evolved a variety of climate resilient crops.
The Intellectual Property Appellate Board said that the technology is only a discovery of a new property of known substance, not an invention, just as it states in section 3(d) of the India Patent Act(1). This is the first time that this section has been used on plant patents. The Act also specifies that plants and animals are not patentable, in section 3(j)(1). This is very significant, as other countries might look to make similar amendments.
India has a long history with Monsanto, approximately 270,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last decade alone. Most of these suicides come from the cotton belt, and Monsanto now controls 95% of cotton seed supply through its GMO Bt cotton. All of this has continued while scientists discovered that Monsanto’s Bt toxins are harmful to human health, especially to red blood cells. You can read more about that here. It’s all about patents, Monsanto has taken over 1000 patents on climate resilient crops already. Farmers have already evolved climate resistant crops overtime because climate resistant traits are becoming more important due to unpredictable weather conditions.
Every year the human race seems to be uniting together in awareness to spread the word about our food industry. Since the recent worldwide march against Monsanto, hundreds of millions, if not billions of people are waking up to the fact that genetically modified foods (GMOs) and pesticides are really harmful to human health. Furthermore, the patenting of seed, controlling and owning the entire global food supply and the attempt to make the whole human race dependant on “terminator technology” has not sat well with many. Individual states like Maine, Connecticut and more within the United States have been speaking out and making progress, while dozens of other countries have completely banned Monsanto’s GMOs. The world really is waking up and making progress, and now India is making more noise. It’s amazing to see how much we are becoming aware of on our planet, and how much we are coming together and uniting for what resonates with us most. The world is becoming more transparent, it’s easier for us to see through corporate agendas.
Navdanya has helped set up 111 community seed banks across the country, trained over 5,00,000 farmers in seed, sovereignty, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture over the past two decades, and helped setup the largest direct marketing, fair trade organic network in the country. Navdanya started as a program of the Research Foundation for science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), a participatory research initiative founded by world-renowned scientist and environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, to provide direction and support to environmental activism. Navdanya means nine crops that represent India’s collective source of food security. The main aim of the Navdanya biodiversity conservation programme is to support local farmers, rescue and conserve crops and plants that are being pushed to extinction and make them available through direct marketing.