Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Natural Medicine Scores Win Against Corporate Bio-Pirates

Advocates for the traditional Indian herb "Neem" have copperfastened a victory in their 10-year-long battle at the European Patent Office against the grant of patent on use of neem as a fungicide.

The patent bid by US multinational, WR Grace was rejected based on prior scientific knowledge and traditional use of the herb by farmers. Source

The legal challenge was undertaken by renowned environmentalist Vandana Shiva, by Green parties President in the European Parliament Magda Aelvoet and by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. Source

A challenge was first mounted against the patent when it was granted in 1995. In 2000, the neem activists were victorious, but WR Grace, mounted an appeal. On Tuesday 8th March, that appeal was lost.

Denying the patent means upholding the value of 'traditional' for millions of [people] not only in India but throughout the South. The free tree will stay free," said RFSTE director, Dr Vandana Shiva.

The backbone of RFSTE's challenge was that the fungicide qualities of the neem tree and its use had been known in India for over 2,000 years. The European patent authorities have agreed that the process for which the patent had been granted had actually been in traditional use in India for many years.

The European decision came after The European decision came after US Federal prosecutors charged W.R. Grace & Co. with exposing mine workers and residents in a small mountain community in Montana to deadly asbestos. Seven current and former employees also were charged with participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice by misleading government officials probing the widespread contamination. [source]

The death rate from asbestos in Libby, Mont. and surrounding areas is 40 to 80 times higher than elsewhere in the state and the nation, according to the indictment. Judge Donald Molloy has set a tentative trial date of May 15, 2006. If found guilty, W.R. Grace faces fines of two times its pre-tax earnings and the executives face fines of $250,000 and jail time ranging from a few years to a few decades. [source]

The neem derivatives have traditionally been used to make insect repellents, soaps, cosmetics, tooth cleaners and contraceptives. Source

More on neem at our sponsors: NeemWell.com


Blogger Oz said...

Great news. Slowly but surely we will beat these bastards.

2:03 am  

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