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Greenpeace conquers Monsanto in wheatfield patent battle

22 October 2004

Indian farmers rejoiced today as agribusiness giant Monsanto were forced to withdraw their patent on an Asian species of wheat which it claimed to have ‘invented’.

Greenpeace, the leading environmental campaigners, proclaimed a moral and legal victory over the multinational, who had originally claimed that it had genetically engineered the Nap Hal variety of wheat for its special baking qualities.

Ashesh Tayal, Scientific Advisor of Greenpeace stated that Indian farmers had long bred the crop to increase its suitability for bread-making, and this made a Monsanto patent not only unenforceable, but a case of ‘bio piracy’ – the privatisation of commonly-owned intellectual property, such a farming expertise and seed improvements made by farmers’ community knowledge. The patent had initially been awarded in July 2003 by the European Patent Office.

The court case is also enjoying further coverage as part of the hit documentary film 'The Corporation', currently being released across the UK.

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