India’s top court rules Monsanto can own patents on genetically modified cotton seeds

"Seed ownership by farmers has traditionally been an important agricultural practice, but profit-driven giant Monsanto is making our farmers disempowered and dependent!"

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Image Credit: The Indian Express

India’s Supreme Court sided with the bio-tech giant, Monsanto – now owned by Bayer – that it could own patents on genetically modified cotton seeds. Initially, a Delhi High Court ruled that “plant varieties and seeds cannot be patented under the country’s laws,” EcoWatch reported.

The ruling stopped Monsanto from claiming patents on Bollgard and Bollgard II, Monsanto’s genetically modified cotton seeds, which were introduced to India in 2002, citing India’s Patents Act of 1970. While Monsanto tried to block its Indian licensee, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd., from selling the seeds, the company didn’t succeed because the patents were invalid under law.

But the recent ruling by the Supreme Court means that Monsanto’s patents are in force. Therefore, the Supreme Court also ruled that a Delhi High Court will review Monsanto’s claim that Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd. “infringed its intellectual property on Bt cotton seeds,” Reuters reported.

Opponents of India’s Supreme Court ruling are worried that this cause a seed monopoly in the country and call to question if life form can actually be patented.

“One can’t patent life,” Greenpeace India tweeted. “Seed ownership by farmers has traditionally been an important agricultural practice, but profit-driven giant Monsanto is making our farmers disempowered and dependent!”

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