By admin       2019-01-31

Some scientists in India have welcomed a supreme court ruling that reinstates a patent on genetically modified cotton that had been quashed by a lower court. They say the decision to uphold the intellectual-property rights of seed maker Monsanto could help reverse a decline in biotechnology research in agriculture in the country.“Publicly funded science in this broad area can now be assured of protection of its intellectual property,” says government science adviser Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan, who is based in New Delhi. “Indian agriculture and other biotech scientists should feel encouraged to innovate further.”In a long-running battle over intellectual protection for genetically modified (GM) crops in India, the 8 January decision from the country’s highest court is seen as a win for research-focused seed companies such as Monsanto (bought last year by Bayer of Germany) that want protection for their transgenic technology.But some lawyers say celebrations are premature. Although the supreme court has upheld the patent for now, it has instructed a lower court to re-examine whether Monsanto’s specific patent on GM cotton is valid. Some farmers, scientists and seed-trading companies think the country’s patent laws do not extend to transgenic seeds, crops or plants.The legislation is open to interpretation — it says that genetic sequences generated in the lab can be patented, but seeds and plants can’t. Scientists say the court’s decision on the Monsanto cotton patent will set a precedent for the protection of other GM crops, which will have a profound effect on research and development in the field.Cotton is the only GM crop currently approved for cultivation by the Indian government. If the patent is upheld, biotechnology companies will probably increase their investment in the GM research, but a denial could have the opposite effect.

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