Big fish seek shield

Published: Thursday 15 April 2004

Multinational pesticide manufacturers operating in India are trying hard to get the country's pesticide registration mechanism amended so that their data can be protected.

Currently, any company planning to introduce a new pesticide in the country has to first get it registered under the Insecticides Act of 1968. The process is carried out by the Registration Committee (rc), a body under the Union ministry of agriculture. For this the manufacturer has to submit huge reams of data on subjects such as chemistry, bio-efficacy and residue, toxicity, packaging and labelling.

Once registration is obtained by the original applicant -- usually a multinational company (mnc) -- there is a provision for a 'me too' registration also. Entities that apply under this clause just have to prove that the chemical they seek to manufacture is similar to the one already registered.

mncs allege that the data they submit "becomes available" to other Indian companies, who have perfected the art of reverse engineering. Therefore, the latter can manufacture the same molecules without spending any money on research and development. To prevent this, mncs want their data protected for 5-10 years. They contend that this period will enable them to recover the money spent on research.

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