Legal action against two firms in BT brinjal case

NEW DELHI: The BT brinjal case just got murkier.Government’s National Biodiversity Authority has decided to take legal action against Mayhco and Monsanto for using Indian varieties of the vegetable without mandatory permissions.

The authority, meant to govern use of Indian genetic resources by business and research groups, decided in its meeting in June to initiate legal action against the companies and their collaborators for violating the Biodiversity Conservation Act and using the genetic material from India without the mandatory permissions from either the state or central board authorised to permit such work.

The last meeting of NBA recorded, “A background note besides legal opinion on Bt brinjal on the alleged violation by the Mahyco/Monsanto, and their collaborators for accessing and using the local brinjal varieties for development of Bt brinjal without prior approval of the competent authorities was discussed and it was decided that the NBA may proceed legally against Mahyco/Monsanto, and all others concerned to take the issue to its logical conclusion.”

The move comes after a Bangalore-based NGO, Environment Support Group, filed a case before the state authority – Karnataka Biodiversity Board — against the companies and consortium of research organizations for using the Indian varieties without mandatory clearances.

Environment Support Group complained to the Karnataka Biodiversity Board on February 15, 2011. The state authority investigated the matter and in May 2011 reported to the national board that six local varieties had been used for development of Bt Brinjal without permissions. Mayhco and its collaborator, the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, defended themselves before the state authority for not seeking permissions stating that the project did not involve profit making or transfer of genetic resources.

Under the Biodiversity Act, violations of this nature can attract up to three years of imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh penalty.

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