Genetically Modified Crops and Intellectual Property Law: Interpreting Indian Patents on Bt Cotton in View of the Socio-Political Background

Author:Lodewijk Van Dycke - Geertrui Van Overwalle
Pages:151-165
SUMMARY

In India, patents on Bt cotton have given rise to an unproductive controversy. This controversy has compromised the deliberative debate on the potential contribution of genetically modified crops to rural development. Notwithstanding the ongoing controversy, the article argues that the central demand of the campaign against patents on Bt cotton (the abolishment of patents on plants and plant... (see full summary)

 
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Genetically Modified Crops and Intellectual Property Law
2017
151
2
Genetically Modified Crops and
Intellectual Property Law
Interpreting Indian Patents on Bt Cotton in View of the Socio-
Political Background
by Lodewijk Van Dycke and Geertrui Van Overwalle*
© 2017 Lodewijk Van Dycke and Geert rui Van Overwalle
Everybody may disseminate this ar ticle by electronic m eans and make it available for downloa d under the terms and
conditions of the Digital P eer Publishing Licence (DPPL). A copy of the license text may be obtain ed at http://nbn-resolving.
de/urn:nbn:de:0009-dppl-v3-en8.
Recommended citation: Lod ewijk Van Dycke and Geertrui Van Ove rwalle, Geneticall y Modified Crops and Intellec tual Property
Law: Interpreting Indian Patent s on Bt Cotton in View of the Socio-Poli tical Background, 8 (2017) JIPITEC 151 para 1.
Keywords: Bt cotton; genetically modified crops; patents; intellectual property; India; deliberative democracy
tices of the Bt cotton industry (which mainly uses
patents on the Bt technology). Furthermore, the In-
dian courts do have the legal possibility to interpret
the Indian Patent Act in such a way that it prohib-
its the patenting of plants and plant parts. Such an
interpretation could potentially help to appease the
ongoing controversy and to foster a deliberative de-
bate on genetically modified crops and rural develop-
ment.
Abstract: In India, patents on Bt cotton have
given rise to an unproductive controversy. This con-
troversy has compromised the deliberative debate
on the potential contribution of genetically modified
crops to rural development. Notwithstanding the on-
going controversy, the article argues that the central
demand of the campaign against patents on Bt cot-
ton (the abolishment of patents on plants and plant
parts) is actually not in contradiction with the prac-
A. Introduction
1
From the year 2001 onwards, genetically modied
(GM) crops have profoundly inuenced the
agricultural practices in many Indian states.12 More
* Lodewijk Van Dycke is a PhD Researcher, Centre for IT & IP
Law, Faculty of Law, KU Leuven, Sint-Michielsstraat 6, BE-
3000 Leuven, Belgium - 003216321652 - lodewijk.vandycke@
kuleuven.be; Corresponding author. Geertrui Van Overwalle
is a Professor of IP Law, Centre for IT & IP Law, Faculty of
Law, KU Leuven, Sint-Michielsstraat 6, BE-3000 Leuven,
Belgium - 003216323736 - geertrui.vanoverwalle@kuleuven.
be; Visiting Professor Tilburg University.
1 Choudhary and Gaur, ‘Biotech Cotton in India, 2002 to 2014’
(ISAAA Series of Biotech Crop Proles, ISAAA 2015) <https://
asiarice.org/resources/publications/biotech_crop_
proles/bt_cotton_in_india-a_country_prole/download/
Bt_Cotton_in_India-2002-2014-Hindi.pdf> accessed 27 July
2016.
2 For a historical overview of the events mentioned in this
article, see Table 1 Historical overview.
specically, GM cotton has overtaken the Indian
cotton areal and is now grown on approximately
95 per cent of the Indian cotton elds.3 In this GM
cotton, a gene from a common soil bacterium (Bacillus
Thuringiensis or “Bt”) has been introduced: the “Cry
gene” or “Bt gene”, hence “Bt cotton”. This gene
causes the plant to produce a protein that is toxic for
insects of the Lepidoptera order, which comprises
the ercest insect pest for cotton: bollworms.
4
Bt
3 James and others, ‘Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/
GM Crops’ (ISAAA Brief 51, ISAAA 2015) <http://www.
salmone.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/mergedpdf>
accessed 17 May 2016.
4 Vaeck and others, ‘Transgenic Plants Protected from Insect
Attack’ (1987) 328 Nature pp. 33-37; Peferoen, ‘Progress
and Prospects for Field Use of Bt Genes in Crops’ (1997) 15
Trends in Biotechnology pp. 173-177; Herring, ‘WHY DID
“OPERATION CREMATE MONSANTO” FAIL?: Science and
Class in India’s Great Terminator-Technology Hoax’ (2006)
38 Critical Asian Studies pp. 467-493.

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