Monsanto wheat patent disputed

Greenpeace, Indian groups challenge company's rights to strain known as Nap Hal

Charles Choi(cqchoi@nasw.org)
Feb 4, 2004

Greenpeace is challenging patent rights to a wheat strain granted to Monsanto, the world's largest genetically modified (GM) seed company, on grounds of “biopiracy.” The dispute continues the environmental group's demands against patenting of any plants, animals, humans, and genes.

Greenpeace says the patented variety of wheat possesses genetic characteristics originally derived from a strain known as Nap Hal used to make chapatis, the flat bread traditional to northern India.

“Monsanto is trying to get ownership of the specific genetic traits of Nap Hal,” Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaigner Christoph Then told The Scientist. “It's robbery of generations of effort in cultivation of Indian farmers.”

The company vigorously denied the allegations. “The people opposing the patent allege there's nothing novel here. But it is indeed a novel invention,” Monsanto Europe–Africa's Director of Public Affairs Thomas McDermott said. “The patent has been granted, and we will defend it.”

Nap Hal has...

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