By Dr Vandana Shiva
On 7th of June, the Indian Prime Minister will meet the US President in the White House.
One of the steps taken to prepare for the PM’s trip to the US is the announcement of a new National IPR Policy. Quite clearly the IPR policy is guided less by the national imperative and more by US corporate pressure.
“India has cleared its stance on the intellectual property rights policy framework well in time for the upcoming US visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Corporations which made chemicals for war cooked up the distorted and unscientific idea of life and seeds as an “invention” and introduced patents on life through Article 27.5 3(b) in WTO TRIPS Agreement. IPRs expanded to cover living systems and organisms in a distortion of “innovation” and “invention”.
In spite of this clause being up for review in 1999, they used the US government to block the review.
James Enyart of Monsanto had said they drafted the TRIPs agreement: “The industries and traders of world commerce have played simultaneously the role of patients, the diagnosticians and the prescribing physicians.”
They have also turned the US into a rogue nation in the context of Biodiversity and the Earth family. The US has not ratified the Convention on Biodiversity and not signed the Cartagena Biosafety protocol. It only functions as an extension of rogue corporations.
I was a member of the expert group to draft the National Biodiversity Act in India. This Act protects our biodiversity, and is supposed to prevent Biopiracy, the patenting of biodiversity and indigenous knowledge
I have had to fight many cases of Biopiracy, to defend our biodiversity, knowledge, and rights. We won the case of Neem after an 11-year legal battle in the European patent office. We successfully challenged the Biopiracy of Basmati, wheat, and melon.
Unfortunately, the IPR policy made under US pressure before the PMs US trip is an attempt to undo our Biodiversity act and undermine our biodiversity authority. It opens the flood gates of IPRs and patents on biodiversity and traditional knowledge.
It is also an attempt to undo the scientific basis of our Patent Act which recognizes that life forms, including plants and animals, are not inventions and hence cannot be patented.
US corporations introduced patents on life through the US government. They used the US Government to sue India in the WTO. Now they are using the US government to change her laws and policies to take over our rich biodiversity and rich traditional knowledge.
When India amended her patent acts, safeguards consistent with TRIPS were introduced. Article 3 defines what is not patentable subject matter.
Article 3(d) excludes as inventions “the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance”. Article 3(j) excludes from patentability “plants and animals in whole or in any part thereof other than microorganisms but including seeds, varieties, and species, and essentially biological processes for production or propagation of plants and animals”.
Monsanto has being collecting royalties from Indian farmers for BT cotton through the false claim to invention. More than 3,00,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide because of debt due to high costs of seeds and chemicals.
The Government introduced a Seed Price Control order on March 8th 2016 which the corporations challenged. We intervened and the court ruled against the challenge. Now they have forced the Government to put on hold an order of 18th May which would have regulated licensing agreements and royalties.
Rogue corporations responsible for eco-cide and genocide are now trying to take over India. And even as their technologies fail and their chemicals poison the Earth, they grow bigger.
Bayer has just made a bid of $62 billion of Monsanto and worked together on both sides of the war as MOBAY . They are becoming the IG Farben of our times.
This war against India by war criminals must be stopped .
What a strong, sovereign nation and a biodiversity and knowledge rich civilization needs to say to the US at this moment of human history is to remind them that we have evolved the deepest knowledge of Ayurveda and the richest biodiversity in agriculture not through privatization and IPRs but through the philosophy ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum’,the Earth family. Our biodiversity rich agriculture produces more nutrition, conserves water, and mitigates climate change unlike the American model of Industrial agriculture which came from war.
Our ancestors did not put their names on the texts they wrote. They contributed to a collective, cumulative process of innovation, creativity, wisdom, not the philosophy privatization of knowledge through IPRs for profits and rent collection. They evolved knowledge for the of the common good – ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina’ – not private greed behind IPRs which promotes ‘Sarve Bhavantu Dukhina’.
Patents on life violate the “Order Public” or moral order embodied in the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ – that all beings on earth are a family. IP laws need to be subjected to ethical criteria, criteria of justice, and a clear definition of invention.
On criteria of rights of nature (Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam) and people’s rights, India’s laws are strong, US laws are weak. When the US talks of strong patent laws, it is restricting itself to the corporate interest. On criteria of corporate rights at the cost of nature and people, US laws are strong. On grounds of ethical considerations and social and ecological justice, they are weak.
Instead of India being bullied to destroy her civilization legacy of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, her carefully and democratically evolved laws related to biodiversity, the Rights of Mother Earth, rights of people to their collective intellectual and cultural heritage, our ecologically sophisticated agriculture and health systems, it is time for the US government to stop functioning as a rogue nation acting on behalf of rogue corporations. It must recognize that we are part of one Earth family, one humanity.