In another head scratcher of a move, India’s government is threatening to file charges against Monsanto for allegedly breaking a moratorium on eggplant development. The case stems from Monsanto’s development of a genetically modified eggplant. It is not a crime in India to develop genetically modified foods. However, the country has a decade-old Biological Diversity Act, which makes it a crime to "steal” an indigenous crop — in this case eggplant — and use it to create a modified version without permission.
India announced it planned to bring charges against Monsanto for violating the Biological Diversity Act last month, but has failed to do so. If India does bring the charges against Monsanto, it will be the first case in the world charging biopiracy as the basis for the lawsuit.
India’s argument is over the commercialization of indigenous knowledge. Indian farmers argue that they developed the strains of eggplant grown in India over generations, and Monsanto has no right to come in and build a product out of their own indigenous species.
Monsanto took locally-grown eggplant “without any conformance with the biological diversity act, and therefore it is biopiracy,” Leo Saldanha, director of the Environmental Support Group, an Indian NGO, told the Huffington Post. Saldanha filed the initial complaint that prompted India to pursue charges.
India’s opposition to GM crops began many years ago and started before this issue with eggplant. Indian farmers have been leery over GM cotton with many claiming the crops failed.
The lawsuit, if it happens, could pose a challenge for Monsanto as it eventually wants to bring GM corn hybrids to India.
Read more from the Huffington Post.