4 biopiracy/GE articles
Daniel D. Worley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thu, 19 Feb 1998 02:03:01 -0400
>Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 10:43:08 -0500
>From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
>Subject: 4 biopiracy/GE articles
> New Scientist February 14, 1998
>Seeds of wrath by Rob Edwards, Ian Anderson
>Australian attempts to cash in on vital crops have angered farmers and
>sparked worldwide concern over biopiracy. IN APRIL last year, a pair of
>Australian government agencies tried to patent two species of chickpea
>grown by subsistence farmers in India and Iran. The agencies had borrowed
>samples of the plants from an international gene bank in Hyderabad, India,
>where they are kept in trust along with tens of thousands of other seeds so
>that researchers anywhere can use them.
>The two agencies, Agriculture Western Australia and the Grains Research and
>Development Corporation, realised when they grew them that they produced
>stronger and taller pods than commercial varieties. So they applied to the
>government's Plant Breeder's Rights Office in Canberra for intellectual
>property rights on the two chickpeas - which would prevent anyone else
>marketing them -despite the fact that they had done little more than
>propagate them. They even gave them Urdu names: Sona, meaning gold, and
>Heera, meaning diamond.
>When rural pressure groups found out, they were furious. "It's blatant
>biopiracy," said Farhad Mazhar from the South Asian Network on Food,
>Ecology and Culture. "Australia is privatising seeds that belong to our
>farmers and planning to sell them back to us." Alerted to the situation,
>the gene bank that had provided the chickpeas, the International Crops
>Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), told the Australian
>agencies it would be wrong to patent plants that are meant to belong to
>everyone. As a result, on 13 January the two agencies withdrew their
>But the story does not end there. The episode has sparked an orgy of claims
>and counterclaims about Australia's right to dozens of seeds from
>developing countries, and widespread alarm about what other rich countries
>might be up to. Worse, it has raised doubts about the effectiveness of the
>system that is supposed to protect the world's plant genes from piracy. The
>two agencies responsible for looking
>after the world's agricultural resources, the UN Food and Agriculture
>Organization (FAO) in Rome and the Consultative Group on International
>Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in Washington DC, have launched urgent
>investigations and will report to a meeting of 150 governments in Rome in
> South China Morning Post February 13, 1998
> Battle to protect plant patents after basmati rice 'hijack' BY JOHN ZUBRZYCKI
>India's battle to protect its plant varieties from intellectual piracy
>suffered a setback this week when a patent for its most famous aromatic
>variety of rice, basmati, was issued to a company in the United States.
>The patent was issued to Ricetec, which is already producing a number of
>aromatic rice varieties and marketing them under names such as Kasmati and
>Texmati. India fears it may lose millions of dollars worth of exports to
>Ricetec, which will now be able to label rice grown in the US as basmati
>and export it to Europe, Britain and western Asia.
>India and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where basmati
>rice is grown. India, which has long jealously guarded the use and
>ownership of an estimated 2,300 indigenous plant varieties, recently
>initiated moves to toughen its intellectual property laws to ensure the
>country's vast plant genetic heritage remained its own.
>The Government has proposed the introduction of a Plant Varieties
>Protection Act that would include the setting up of a national gene bank.
>Scientists and environmentalists fear foreign biotechnical supremacy
>might lead to a ravaging of India's biodiversity.
>India's vulnerability to the pilfering of plant varieties by foreign firms
>came to light in 1995 when a US company tried to acquire a patent for the
>neem plant, which has a wide variety of medicinal uses. Last year, India
>won a legal battle against an American company that wanted to patent the
>healing properties of turmeric.
> India is expected to appeal to the International Trademarks and Tariffs
>Commission to restrain Ricetec from using the name basmati on any of its
>Monsanto sets swift pace for biotech
>ST. LOUIS, Feb. 15 (UPI)
> Monsanto Company is forging ahead with research on genetically engineered
>crops, despite criticism from some quarters that altering plant genes might
>eventually backfire.Since Dec. 31, the St. Louis-based life sciences firm
>has reportedly notified the federal government of 75 field trials involving
>genetically engineered crops at 400 sites -- far more trials than its
>The St. Louis-Post-Dispatch cites records showing Monsanto is experimenting
>with genes to develop herbicide resistance in wheat, alfalfa and beans.
>The company is also developing potatoes that could be "stacked" with
>multiple genes to protect them from fungus and prevent bruising, or even
>help create french fries that could be cooked in less oil.
>The volume of U.S. land planted with genetically altered crops could double
>this year to about 60 million acres, an impressive number considering that
>as of 1995 no U.S. farmland was planted with genetically engineered seeds.
>Most of the altered seeds planted last year were soybeans engineered to
>resist powerful herbicides, including Monsanto's own Roundup brand.
>Despite the progress, obstacles of a less scientific nature remain.
>Political opposition to genetically altered foods is stronger in Europe,
>where countries including France and Switzerland are considering
>restrictions against some of the re- tooled seeds.
>But stemming the rising tide of high-tech crops might prove to be a
>difficult task. Arnold Foudin, deputy director of the U.S. Agriculture
>Department's biotechnology unit, told the Post- Dispatch, "Last year was
>the year that put to rest the question of whether this could be a
>commercial success." ---
>Copyright 1998 by United Press International.
>All rights reserved.
>The Xinhua News Agency
> FEBRUARY 16, 1998
>New strain of genetically altered wheat bred in China
>A new strain of wheat has been bred by using ion beam radiation technology
>in East China's Anhui province. The output in the experimental farm fields
>increased by 9.7 percent. After checking the internet index, Anhui science
>and technology information institute declared that the strain is the first
>of its kind in the world. Yang Zanlin, the researcher in the anhui academy
>of agriculture who carried out the experiment, explained that he used ion
>beam radiation to genetically alter the wheat.
>In addition, some new strains of rice and vegetable have been bred with the
>ion- beam technology. From 1995 to 1997, the new strain of wheat was grown
>in experimental fields in the province, and the average output increased
>by 9.7 percent to about 6,050 kilograms per hectare. Research shows that
>the new strain has a shorter maturation period, is higher in protein and is
>more disease- resistant.
>Richard Wolfson, PhD
>Consumer Right to Know Campaign,
>for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
>Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
>500 Wilbrod Street
>Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
>Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
>contains more information on genetic engineering as well as
>previous genetic engineering news items
>Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months
>See website for details.
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