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U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO) gives the Texas based company RiceTec patents on basmati rice

August 24, 2001
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Guests

Annie Petsonk

International counsel with Environmental Defense, a leading national environmental advocacy organization. She has participated in the development of climate policy since the inception of the climate treaty talks and works to develop international laws that provide economic incentives for environmental protection. Annie Petsonk supports carbon trading.

Daphne Wysham

Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. She is also the founder and co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network and a member of the Durban Group for Climate Justice. Her research drew attention to the disproportionate ratio of fossil fuel investments by international financial institutions like the World Bank. Daphne Wysham is opposed to carbon trading.

RiceTec took U.S. Long grain rice and crossbred it with Indian basmati rice to produce the three newly patented hybrid strains of basmati rice: texmati, jasmati, and kasmati. RiceTec has also been given permission to claim that their rice is superior to basmati, though basmati has been grown for centuries in the foothills of the Himalayas.

RiceTec has to answer also to the issue of bio piracy, since the strains of basmati rice they used were produce by the Public Breeding Institute of India. Four years ago, RiceTec Inc withdrew their application for patents, in the face of overwhelming opposition.

We talk with Bruce Hicks, spokesman of RiceTec Inc about whether RiceTec feels that their newly won patents interfere with International patents and trade. We also talk to Sophia Murphy, Director of the trade program at the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis who opposes the biopatenting of seeds (genetic patenting), as they are life forms that farmers have adapted and grown over thousands of years.

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