Basmati Wars

14 October 2001


With the military build up in the East, we bring news of a war in that region which has just been won - the Basmati war. For many years India has been fighting the US over patents for the distinctive Basmati rice, which grows at the foothills of the Himalayas. RiceTec, a US company, has genetically engineered new strains of the rice which have different grain sizes and starch content, and they wanted to patent their discovery. But Indian scientists claimed that only rice grown in India and Pakistan could be called "basmati" and the US Patent Office agreed with them. A spokesman for the Indian government said "We waged a focussed battle and our evidence was sufficient to knock out RiceTec's claims on Basmati". This is good news for developing countries, who will now have better protection against multinational corporations profiting from their traditional crops and medicines


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