By admin       2019-01-31

Monsanto’s patent covers the process by which the gene Cry2Ab from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis is inserted in the cotton genome. This gene causes the plant to make proteins that protect the crop from devastating bollworm caterpillars. Almost all Indian cotton-seed companies pay a trait fee to Monsanto to incorporate the gene into their varieties, which accounted for 89% of cotton planted in India in 2017–18.After a dispute over the trait fee in 2015, Nuziveedu Seeds in Hyderabad challenged the validity of Monsanto’s patent in court in 2017. In April last year, the Delhi high court ruled that the patent was invalid, finding that items such as seeds cannot be patented under India’s 1970 Patents Act.The court made its decision without a trial, after both companies waived their rights to one. But the supreme court says this was not allowed, ruling the high court’s decision invalid and reinstating Monsanto’s patent.Even though the patent will be reviewed again, industry scientists say that the supreme-court decision will restore companies’ confidence in the patent system. This case is about more than just a dispute between Monsanto and Nuziveedu, says Suresh Atluri, founder of Tierra Seed Science in Hyderabad. The ruling sets a precedent that a patent cannot be quashed easily in court, says Atluri. Seed companies that invest in research and development need this protection to deter competitors from copying their discoveries, he says.“This development will have a positive effect on creating more investments for agriculture research,” says Usha Barwale Zehr, chief technology officer at Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds in Jalna, which has developed a GM aubergine that has not yet been approved for cultivation.The ongoing intellectual-property case has partly curbed funding for research into GM crops over the past three years, says Zehr. “But to bring it back to the same level it was three years ago will take time, and to a certain level, we all have lost the opportunity of creating new products with new technologies over the past three years.”

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