Indian Govt. to investigate ‘Chapati Chor’ Monsanto

Feature story - February 16, 2004
NEW DELHI, India — On the 16th of February 2004, the Government of India assured the Supreme Court of India that all necessary steps would be taken to investigate Monsanto’s bid to control Indian wheat.

Look who's poisoning your food

Indian government officials woke up to 'chapati-chor' Monsanto's bid to patent Indian wheat following Greenpeace's legal opposition in European Patent office (EPO) and a petition filed by the Research Foundation for Science Technology and Environment (RFSTE) in the Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court of India, in response to a petition filed by RFSTE, issued notices to the Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce, Industry, and Environment & Forests seeking more information on the wheat patent.

Greenpeace, along with the RFSTE and the Bharat Krishak Samaj, had filed legal opposition against Monsanto's patent on the Nap-Hal variety of Indian wheat at the European Patents Office (EPO) in Munich on 27th January 2004. Greenpeace investigations of the patent reveal that it is incorrectly recorded as an invention while there is evidence that Indian farmers have bred, cultivated and processed wheat for baking purposes long before Monsanto filed its patent.

Greenpeace has been mobilizing farmers and consumers community around the world with a post-card campaign targeting Monsanto and the Indian Government, demanding that the wheat patent be revoked. Greenpeace has also been holding round-table discussions with farmers groups to counter the threat to Indian bio-diversity from multinational corporations.

"We definitely expect the wheat patent to be revoked in total, especially now that the Supreme Court is intervening in the matter. Monsanto had taken a patent where they claimed even the use of the flour to make chapatis. These patents shows that companies are systematically trying to use patent laws as an instrument to gain control over all aspects of agriculture, from farmer's seeds to people's food," said Dr. Ashesh Tayal, Scientific Advisor, Greenpeace India.

The Wheat patent was awarded to Monsanto in May 2003 by the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO allows a nine-month long opportunity for opponents to challenge any patents awarded by it. In effect, this means that the Government of India has to file opposition before the 21st of February 2004. Monsanto has even filed for similar patents in the United States Patent offices.

Greenpeace is calling upon the Government of India to file opposition well within the prescribed time limits. Greenpeace is also calling on the Government to scrutinize all patents filed in United States, European and Indian patent offices. In the Indian patent office alone, more than 5000 patent applications are pending, with little information on what is being patented and by whom.

For more information:Dr. Ashesh Tayal, Scientific Advisor Greenpeace - 9845535404

Email id: