Thursday, March 10, 2005

Thank goodness the neem is still Indian!

I was never so pleased as when I heard that India had won a case in the European Patent Office with regards to knowledge - and use - of the neem's medicinal and various other properties. The company that had tried to patent the neem's pesticidal properties was - but naturally - an American multinational, WR Grace. It's such bloody CHEEK of the Americans to extol themselves as saviours of the world's poor on the one hand, while on the other hand, they're quietly trying to swindle them!

Consider this - the Americans dont acknowledge traditional remedies and medicines of other cultures, even if the remedies are 5,000 years old, if they've been passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. If that knowledge has not been published in a journal, according to the Americans, it is not considered as "prior existing knowledge". In effect, it's more than okay for the Americans to patent it because, as it has not been in print, nobody knows about it. A billion Indians who've known about the properties of the neem for thousands of years dont count.

Very convenient for the USA, no doubt. I'm sure they've been coolly stealing traditional and folk knowledge from everywhere - but then that's what they excel in, I guess. Only not this time. THIS time, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) successfully fought off WR Grace's
patent claim - although it took 10 long years. More power to those who successfully resist the supposedly irresistible and show them that they cant always get their own way! Hip-hip-hurray!

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