News

2018-05-07 |

Monsanto challenges Indian court’s decision that undermines its GMO cotton monopoly

Agro-biotechnology giant Monsanto has appealed Delhi High Court’s ruling which, based on national laws, prevents the world’s largest GMO seed producer from claiming patents on its genetically modified cotton varieties in India.
Looking to break down Monsanto’s monopoly on the Indian market, in April the Delhi High Court banned the St. Louis-based company from enforcing its patents on genetically modified ‘Bollgard’ and ‘Bollgard II’ cottonseed varieties in India. The decision was taken after Indian Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL) argued that the US seeds company was not eligible to claim patents and demand royalties from Indian seed companies.
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Following April's court ruling, 107 patents could soon be void, which could force the company to leave the market, Ram Kaundinya, of the Federation of Seed Industries of India, which represents Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta foreign companies, cautioned.

“The decision of the Delhi High Court has made biotechnology companies cagey about investing in their businesses because they apprehend that they will lose patents on their expensive technologies,” Kaundinya said.

2018-05-07 |

DBT panel seeks destruction of HT cotton seed

Illegal variety of seeds pose threat to crop biodiversity and is also a health hazard

The Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC) constituted by the Department of Biotechnology to investigate the cultivation of unapproved hybrid cotton variety with herbicide-tolerant trait has decided to recommend its eradication, considering its adverse impact on crop biodiversity in the long run.

After collecting samples of the illegal variety of cotton seed, the committee has concluded that it is prevalent in all cotton-growing States in the country and the only viable solution is identifying and destroying the seed at producer, processor, seller and cultivator level, where it is found through field inspection. The high-level meeting was held at New Delhi on Thursday.

The high-level committee is headed by K. Veluthambi and comprises about a dozen officials from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority (TSSOCA).

2018-05-07 |

In Blow to Monsanto, India's Top Court Upholds Decision That Seeds Cannot Be Patented

In an another legal blow to Monsanto, India's Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Delhi High Court's ruling that the seed giant cannot claim patents for Bollgard and Bollgard II, its genetically modified cotton seeds, in the country.

Monsanto's chief technology officer Robert Fraley, who just announced that he and other top executives are stepping down from the company after Bayer AG's multi-billion dollar takeover closes, lamented the news.

Fraley tweeted, "Having personally helped to launch Bollgard cotton in India & knowing how it has benefited farmers ... it's sad to see the country go down an anti-science/anti-IP/anti-innovation path..."

Monsanto first introduced its GM-technology in India in 1995. Today, 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.

Citing India's Patents Act of 1970, the Delhi High Court ruled last month 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.

Because of the ruling, Monsanto's claims against Nuziveedu for unpaid royalties have been waived, as its patents are now invalid under Indian law. Royalties will now be decided by the government.

2018-05-03 |

Proposed Regulations for GMO Food Labeling Could Leave Millions of Americans in the Dark

Rules propose options which discriminate against low-income, elderly, and minorities; could allow for many GMO foods to go unlabeled

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the long-awaited proposed regulations for the mandatory disclosure of foods produced using genetic engineering (GE or GMO), which it calls "Bioengineered foods." The regulations come out of a 2016 law signed by President Obama prohibiting existing state GE labeling laws, such as Vermont's, that required on-package GE labeling, and instead created a federal "disclosure," program, which, for the first time, creates a nationwide standard of required GE disclosure. There now will be a 60 day public comment period. The 2016 law requires that USDA issue the final rules by July 29, 2018.

Public comments will be particularly important because the proposal presents a range of alternatives for public comments and makes few decisions, leaving considerable unknowns about its outcome. For example, instead of requiring clear, on-package labeling in the form of text or a symbol, USDA proposes to allow manufacturers to instead choose to use "QR codes," which are encoded images on a package that must be scanned and are intended to substitute for clear, on-package labeling. Real-time access to the information behind the QR code image requires a smartphone and a reliable broadband connection, technologies often lacking in rural areas. As a result, this labeling option would discriminate against more than 100 million Americans who do not have access to this technology. Last fall, CFS forced the public disclosure of USDA's study on the efficacy of this labeling, which showed it would not provide adequate disclosure to millions of Americans.

2018-05-03 |

The storm brewing in India’s cotton fields

The pests that GM Bt cotton was meant to safeguard against are back, virulently and now pesticide-resistant – destroying crops and farmers

Policymakers in every country considering introducing GM Bt cotton should read this article. It's long but revealing.
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* Bt-cotton occupies 90 per cent of the land under cotton in India – and the pests that this GM variety was meant to safeguard against, are back, virulently and now pesticide-resistant – destroying crops and farmers

The black scars dotting the green bolls of a wilting cotton plant on Ganesh Wadandre’s farm carried a message for scientists working on the "white gold": go find a new antidote.

“Those are the entry points,” said Wadandre, a five-acre farmer who is well regarded in Amgaon (Kh) village of Wardha district. The worm, he added, must have drilled into the boll from these points.

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