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India to Prosecute Monsanto for Biopiracy over GM Eggplant

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The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) of India has decided to take legal action against Monsanto and its Indian partner Maharashtra Hybrid Company (Mahyco) charging the companies with biopiracy during the development of genetically modified Bt brinjal (eggplant).

The suit follows a one-year investigation. NBA met recently and discussed the "comprehensive evidence" and "supporting proof" gathered against Bt brinjal's promoters, according to The Hindu.

NBA says Mahyco, as well as Indian universities and research organizations allegedly accessed nine Indian varieties of brinjal to develop their GM vegetable without prior permission from the NBA or the relevant state and local boards.

This is a violation of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, according to the Environmental Support Group (ESG) which lodged the formal complaint with the Karnataka Biodiversity Board on February 15, 2010, soon after the government put a moratorium on Bt brinjal on health and safety grounds.

ESG points out that biopiracy is a crime with severe financial penalties.

Mahyco has denied the charges.

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