Quantcast

Monsanto Can Claim Patent on GM Cotton in India, Top Court Rules

GMO
India is the world's largest cotton producer. Wikimedia Commons

Update, Jan. 25, this post includes new reporting:

Since the Jan. 8 judgement, new reports have called Monsanto's "patent victory"—and the media's reporting of it—into doubt.


It appears that the Supreme Court reversed the case to a single judge of the Delhi Hight Court for trial, which will determine the validity of Monsanto's patent for its Bollgard-II Bt cotton seed technology. For now, LiveMint reported, Monsanto's patent is enforceable in India.

Defendant Nuziveedu Seeds Limited said the Supreme Court decision has been misreported and the case is actually far from over.

"The court has held that the validity of Monsanto's patent can only be judged after evidence is led by both parties, and at the final and not the interim stage," the company said, according to The Hindu Business Line.

"The Supreme Court felt that the issue of whether Monsanto's patent is valid or not under the Patents Act would need to be determined by the Single Judge," it added.

Environmental activist Vandana Shiva, the director at the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, & Ecology, an intervenor in the case, also told GMWatch it was "totally false reporting of the Supreme Court order and the issue of patents on seed."

"Now the Supreme Court has sent back the case to the Single Judge Bench for trial," she said. "So in no sense did the Supreme Court uphold a patent on seed. It merely made a procedural decision, not about patentability." For a deeper dive into the Supreme Court's decision, check out these articles on Down to Earth and The Indian Express.

Original post:

After a long-standing legal battle, India's top court ruled on Tuesday that Monsanto can own patents on genetically modified cotton seeds, overturning a Delhi High Court ruling that said plant varieties and seeds cannot be patented under the country's laws, according to media reports.

The Supreme Court decision is a rare win for the seed giant—now owned by Germany's Bayer—which is facing more than 9,300 U.S. lawsuits over the safety of its controversial Roundup weedkiller.

Monsanto introduced its GM-cotton seeds to India in 2002, and now more than 90 percent of the country's cotton crop is genetically modified. These crops have been inserted with a pest-resistant toxin called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

Today's decision could "encourage biotechnology firms to step up investment in the country," Reuters reported, adding that firms such as Dupont Pioneer and Syngenta had previously been concerned about losing patents on GM crops in India.

In April, the Delhi High Court ruled that Monsanto cannot claim patents for Bollgard and Bollgard II, its genetically modified cotton seeds, in the country. Citing India's Patents Act of 1970, the court said that plant varieties and seeds cannot be patented, thereby rejecting Monsanto's attempt to block its Indian licensee, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd., from selling the seeds. The ruling waived Monsanto's claims against Nuziveedu for unpaid royalties, as its patents became invalid under Indian law.

However, today's judgment from the Supreme Court "essentially means that the patent is in force," said a spokesman for Bayer in India, according to Bloomberg.

The Supreme Court also said today that the Delhi High Court will examine Monsanto's allegations that Nuziveedu infringed its intellectual property on Bt cotton seeds, according to Reuters.

The case has highlighted major concerns from opponents about multinationals establishing a seed monopoly in the country, and underscored the larger question of whether seeds and life forms should be patented at all.

"One can't patent life," Greenpeace India tweeted after the ruling. "Seed ownership by farmers has traditionally been an important agricultural practice, but profit-driven giant Monsanto is making our farmers disempowered and dependent!"

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An Australian flag flutters in the wind in a dry drought-ridden landscape. Virginia Star / Moment / Getty Images

Australia re-elected its conservative governing Liberal-National coalition Saturday, despite the fact that it has refused to cut down significantly on greenhouse gas emissions or coal during its time in power, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Tree lined street, UK. Richard Newstead / Moment / Getty Images

The UK government will fund the planting of more than 130,000 trees in English towns and cities in the next two years as part of its efforts to fight climate change, The Guardian reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A tropical storm above Bangkok on Aug. 04, 2016. Hristo Rusev/ NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.

Read More Show Less
orn_france / iStock / Getty Images

By Susan McCabe, BSc, RD

Dioscorea alata is a species of yam commonly referred to as purple yam, ube, violet yam, or water yam.

Read More Show Less
Left: MirageC / Moment / Getty Images Right: Pongsak Tawansaeng / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Sole water is water saturated with pink Himalayan salt.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
People march to TCF Bank Stadium to protest against the mascot for the Washington Redskins before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 2, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.

Read More Show Less
A man protests against the use of disposable plastics outside the Houses of Parliament on March 28 in London. John Keeble / Getty Images

Plastic pollution across the globe is suffocating our planet and driving Earth toward catastrophic climatic conditions if not curbed significantly and immediately, according to a new report by the Center for International Environmental Law (CEIL).

Read More Show Less
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on April 2 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

A new climate action plan put forth by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday is being praised for highlighting the enormous benefits that would result from a rapid shift in the U.S. to a renewable energy economy that centers on the needs of workers and vulnerable communities.

Read More Show Less