Bangladesh authority sitting on draft GI Act

Topics: Rice, Dhaka, Mughal Empire Pages: 5 (1575 words) Published: September 21, 2013

http://theindependentbd.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=159061:bangladesh-authority-sitting-on-draft-gi-act&catid=169:op-ed&Itemid=201

Bangladesh authority sitting on draft GI Act
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Op-ed
SATURDAY, 09 MARCH 2013
AUTHOR / SOURCE: M S SIDDIQUI

There are two burning issues of GI to understand the Geographical Indication. RiceTec, a Texas-based  US company,  in  1997, patented  some  types  of  rice  they developed  as  American  basmati.

RiceTec  Inc,  had  been  trying  to  enter  the  international  Basmati market  with  brands  like Kasmati and Texmati.  Ultimately, the company claimed to have developed a new strain of aromatic rice by interbreeding basmati with another variety. They sought to call the allegedly new variety as Texmati or American Basmati. RiceTec  Inc, was  issued  the  Patent  number 5663484 on  Basmati  rice  lines  and  grains  on September 2, 1997.  RiceTec  has  got  a  patent  for  three  things:  growing  rice  plants with  certain  characteristics identical  to  Basmati,  the  grain  produced  by  such  plants,  and  the method  of  selecting  rice based on a starch index (SI) test devised by RiceTec, Inc.

The  patenting  of Basmati by RiceTec Inc. is perceived as not only intellectual property and cultural theft, but it  also directly threatens farm communities in Southeast Asia. The main aim for obtaining the patent by RiceTec Inc. is to fool the consumers in believing there  is no difference between  spurious Basmati and  real Basmati. Moreover,  the theft  involved  in  the Basmati patent  is,  therefore,  threefold: a  theft of collective  intellectual and biodiversity heritage on  farmers of South Asia, a  theft  from traders in the SE region and  exporters whose markets are being stolen by RiceTec Inc., and finally a deception of consumers since RiceTec is using a stolen name Basmati for rice which are derived from Indian rice but not grown in India, and hence are not the same quality.  This was objected to by two  Indian nongovernmental organizations  (NGOs)  Centre  for  Food  Safety,  an  international  NGO  that  campaigns  against  biopiracy,  and  the  Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, an Indian environmental NGO who filed legal  petitions  in  the United  States.   The Centre  for  Scientific  and  Industrial Research  also objected to it.  They sought trade protection for basmati rice of the South Asian subcontinent and jasmine rice of Thailand.  They  have demanded  amendment  of  U.S.  rice  standards  to  specify  that  the  term “basmati” can be used only  for  rice grown  in  India and Pakistan, and  jasmine  for  the Thai rice.   The patent was  challenged on  the  fact  that  the plant varieties  and grains  already  exist  as  a staple in India. 75 percent of U.S. rice imports are from Thailand and that the remainder is from India and Pakistan and both varieties are rice that cannot be grown in the United States.  The  legal  theory  is  that  the patent  is not novel and  for an  invention  that  is obvious, being  based on rice that is already being imported in the United States, therefore it should not have  been granted in the first place.     As a result of the re-examination application filed by the Indian government, RiceTec agreed  to  withdraw  several  of  the  claims.  In  January  29,  2002,  the  United  States  Patent  and Trademark Office issued a Reexamination Certificate canceling claims 1-7, 10, and 14-20 (the broad claims covering the rice plant) out of 24 claims and entered amendments to claims 12- 13 on the definition of chalkiness of the rice grains. 

The United Kingdom, did not accept request of RiceTec to allow bashmoti as Texmati rice, since British law protects the use of the term basmati to refer to rice coming from  India and Pakistan. RiceTec also uses Texmati  in  its U.S. sales, but does use  the  term basmati in its...
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