Tuesday, April 17, 2012
BT brinjal row: National Biodiversity Authority decides to prosecute Monsanto
By Savita Verma
April 17, 2012
The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), the country’s biodiversity-preservation watchdog, has finally woken up to its job.
It has decided to prosecute multinational seed company Monsanto for allegedly using Indian brinjal varieties for commercial purposes without permission.
The decision was taken in a vote at a meeting on February 28, 2012. The majority of the members voted in favour of initiating action against Monsanto for violating India’s biodiversity law.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, too, is in favour of prosecuting the seed giant.
The vote was essential as some board members of the NBA were against holding Monsanto to task, sources said.
The decision is bound to send a clear cut message that any attempt to fiddle with the country’s biological wealth will not go unpunished.
The Indian law says it is essential for anyone desirous of using India-produced biological goods for commercial purposes to seek permission from the NBA. The authority’s nod is required even if, as in Monsanto’s case, the material has been modified by Indian universities.
The voting will reverse an earlier judgment, taken by the Karnataka state biodiversity board on January 20, 2012, that spared the alleged violators the rod.
The complaint against Monsanto, its Indian subsidiary Mahyco, and University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, was filed by the Environment Support Group in February 2010.
It had alleged that the accused illegally accessed and genetically modified six varieties of Indian brinjal to produce Bt Brinjal.