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Legal action against Mahyco, Monsanto in Bt Brinjal case

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Bangalore: The National Biodiversity Authority of India (NBA) has recommended legal action against seed companies Mahyco and Monsanto for violating the Biodiversity Conservation Act in promoting Bt Brinjal, the NGO Environment Support Group (ESG India) said Thursday.

“In a resolution passed at its June 20 meeting, the NBA decided to take legal action against Mahyco/Monsanto and its associates for using local brinjal varieties in the development of Bt Brinjal without prior approval from the relevant authorities,” ESG said in a statement citing the resolution issued in New Delhi on Thursday.

The NBA’s decision is based on a complaint ESG filed with the Karnataka Biodiversity Board on Feb. 15.

“The state authority investigated the matter and informed the NBA on May 28 that the two companies had accessed six local varieties for the development of Bt Brinjal without prior authorization,” the statement reads.

The agency also recommended legal action against Dharward University of Agricultural Sciences in northern Karnataka, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, and Sathguru Management Consultants Ltd, which represents the consortium in which the U.S. Agency for International Development and Cornell University participate, for collaborating with the seed companies in violation of the Organic Diversity Act (Section 4).

The Bangalore-based ESG accused the agencies of illegally accessing 10 brinjal varieties in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu without the consent of regulators, despite the mandatory requirement to protect biodiversity loss from contamination when transgenics are involved.

“The law requires that local communities be consulted on the use of biodiversity for commercial and research purposes, as required by the internationally applicable Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing,” the statement read.

Pending legal action, ESG asked the regulator to deny all involved agencies access to all biological resources in the country.

“The regulator must stop processing Monsanto’s request for access to two Indian onion varieties and ensure that such acts of biopiracy are not repeated,” the statement added.

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