Challenge to patenting neem processing
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CTA. 1995. Challenge to patenting neem processing. Spore 60. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47207
Two hundred organizations from 35 countries supported the Foundation for Economic Trends, based in Washington DC, when it filed its legal challenge against the giant seed company W R Grace. The dispute is over a patent held by the seed company and...
Two hundred organizations from 35 countries supported the Foundation for Economic Trends, based in Washington DC, when it filed its legal challenge against the giant seed company W R Grace. The dispute is over a patent held by the seed company and is being seen as a major step in trying to prevent rich nations from benefiting economically from the natural resources and traditional knowledge of developing countries without adequate compensation. The dispute is over the production of a pesticide from neem seeds, a traditional practice for centuries in India, which is now being used in Africa. The patent, owned by W R Grace, is for an extraction process that produces a stable form of the neem pesticide enabling it to be shipped over long distances. Vandana Shiva, president of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resources Policy in India, is concerned that if broadly applied this patent could, in some way, prevent the processing of the seeds by farmers. The challenge to the patent is made on the grounds that the process was already in use when the patent was awarded. Vandana Shiva believes, however, that the patent is symptomatic of a far more serious form of exploitation, where Northern companies locate indigenous resources and then acquire monopoly rights over them. Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation of Economic Trends, maintains that the challenge is a major test case for a number of similar patents which he believes unfairly appropriate the knowledge and resources of developing countries. W R Grace announced two years ago that no royalties would have to be paid by farmers for the use of their traditional extraction process, and insists that although traditional knowledge inspired the research and development that led to the patented process, it is sufficiently different from the traditional techniques to be patentable. Foundation for Economic Trends 1130 17th Street NW #630 Washington, DC 20036 USA