Biopiracy's bitter defeat

Published: Friday 15 April 2005

-- India's traditional wisdom was recently upheld with the country winning a tussle over neem patent. On March 8, 2005, the European Patent Office (epo) dismissed an appeal against the repeal of a patent for making a neem -based fungicide granted jointly to the us Department of Agriculture and chemical multinational W R Grace in 1995.

The basis for the patent was that a particular water-soluble neem extract was novel and superior to Indian techniques and it had fungicidal properties. A group of non-governmental organisations and political parties from 40 countries had opposed the move. The epo revoked the patent five years ago but an appeal was lodged against the step. epo 's latest decision considered proof of Indian farmers using the knowledge from ancient times and of earlier research on neem by two Indians.

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