Below are two reports on the jatropha biopiracy debate emerging in India. TITLE: "Jatropha Bio-Piracy": Appeal from Chhattisgarh Jaiv Suraksha Manch AUTHOR: Suresh Sahu, Rupantar PUBLICATION: Campaign appeal DATE: 18 January 2006 URL: http://www.cgnet.in/FT/Jatropha "JATROPHA BIO-PIRACY": APPEAL FROM CHHATTISGARH JAIV SURAKSHA MANCH Raipur, 18 January 2006 Chhattisgarh has again been attacked by a multinational company. You must be remembering two years back Syngenta an Swiss MNC tried to snatch the germplasm of twenty thousand rice varieties of Chhattisgarh. These were the varieties collected by Dr. RH Richharia during his work at MP Rice Research Institute. Those varieties are kept with Indira Gandhi Agriculture University, Raipur. Luckily the information leaked out before finalization of the deal. The people of Chhattisgarh resisted strongly against the back door entry of the MNC and expressed their mandate in favor of community rights on all the bio-resources and related knowledge of the Chhattisgarh. The university and state government should have taken lesson, but it is evident that neither of them took the feelings of People of Chhattisgarh seriously. This time germplasm of 18 local varieties of Jatropha have been stolen. These varieties are considered to have high oil content and disease and drought resistance qualities. High quality Pendra variety has also been stolen. (Many variants of Jatropha are wildly found in some forests of Chhattisgarh. The variety found in Pendra area of Chhattisgarh is considered to be of high quality.) A multinational company known as D-one has received the germplasm and said to have cultivated it in a farm house near Raipur taken on lease by the MNC. One interesting thing is that in both the cases of bio-piracy (the Syngenta and the D-One) the medium for the robbery has been IGKVV. The IGKVV has failed to protect the bio-resources of Chhattisgarh to which it is presumed to be custodian. According to newspaper report (Dainik Bhaskar, 17th Jan. 06) the university had appointed an investigation team to find out the details of the case. The team led by Dr. ARRS Shastri found Dr. Sunil Puri of IGKVV guilty and the university charge sheeted Dr. Puri for the same. Meanwhile Dr.Puri has joined the same MNC establishment in Coimbatore. Surprisingly the university administration tried its best to hide the issue from the eyes of the public. The university's attitude was of a criminal negligence. Such negligence to the public property by a public sector institution is very serious. The issue has again opened the issue of concern of the people of Chhattigarh about the security of their bio-resources kept in the custody of the IGKVV and other centralized structures. The university has been hiding the information on seeds of Chhattisgarh from public in the name of official secrecy but it is leaking the information and the germplasm to MNCs time and again. Apart from breach of trust to the nation this is also violation of the rights of the people of Chhattisgarh. We fear that the greatest threat to the bio-resources of Chhattisgarh is from the IGKVV and such other structures which have centralized control on the bio-resources. We would like to remind the concept of decentralized research, extension and germplasm accessions given by Dr. RH Richharia to tackle such act of both theft and subsequent negligence. The role of the university in stopping the information about the farmer's seed to come in public domain has always been under suspicion and can be easily related to such acts of bio-piracy. The university has kept Dr.Richharia's work "Encyclopedia of Rice" unpublished. The university is yet to answer these questions to the public. The negligence of the serious issues at university and State government level can also be viewed in the matter that the report of the Bagai Committee commissioned to investigate the Syngenta deal, has yet not been made public after almost three years of the incidence. We appeal all friends to protest against such criminal act and demand for an enquiry and action against the guilty persons and the MNCs. We demand * Criminal case be filed against the MNC and the scientist involved. * The Bagai committee report on Syngenta issue investigation be made public. * Dr. Richharia's work "Encyclopedia of Rice" be published and bring the information on bio-resources under control of the university in public domain. Suresh Sahu Rupantar, Raipur (India) Tel. +91 771 2263683 or 2424669 sahusureshk(at)rediffmail.com sahusureshk(at)yahoo.co.in TITLE: Indian scientist denies accusation of biopiracy AUTHOR: T. V. Padma and Mike Shanahan PUBLICATION: SciDev.Net DATE: 24 January 2006 URL: http://www.scidev.net/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=readnews&it emid=2614 INDIAN SCIENTIST DENIES ACCUSATION OF BIOPIRACY T. V. Padma and Mike Shanahan 24 January 2006 Source: SciDev.Net [NEW DELHI] An Indian university has accused the former head of its forestry department of 'biopiracy', saying he illegally gave valuable plants to a foreign company that now employs him. The company, UK-based D1 Oils, denies there is an issue. It says that although the young jatropha trees are growing on its land, they still belong to the Indira Gandhi Agricultural University in Raipur, central India. Last week, the university filed a formal complaint against its former employee Sunil Puri, who also denies any wrongdoing. The police are investigating the claims. Researchers have hailed the oil-rich seeds of jatropha trees as a source of biofuel -- a 'green' alternative to polluting fossil fuels (see "The bumpy road to clean, green fuel": http://www.scidev.net/Features/index.cfm?fuseaction=readfea tures&itemid=477 ). India plans to produce this biofuel on a large-scale from plantations of the trees, which grow wild in parts of the country, including Chhattisgarh, the state where the university is located. In February 2005, the university began collecting jatropha plants from nearby forests and creating small plantations to compare the yield of seeds from trees grown in different environments. The university's research director, A.S.R.A.S. Sastry, told SciDev.Net that D1 Oils had asked to collaborate on the project, but the university's vice-chancellor had declined. But according to Puri and D1 Oils, the vice-chancellor did give the go-ahead for some of the jatropha specimens to be planted on the company's enclosed test site, whose soil conditions differ from those of the university's sites. Puri says he took about 1,500 three-month-old seedlings there in November 2005, and that this was done 'above board' using a university tractor and in the company of two colleagues. Shortly after that journey Puri quit his university post and, just days later, became technical director of D1's Indian operations. According to Sastry, Puri left the university without completing the mandatory formalities. This triggered an enquiry, which concluded by accusing Puri of illegally giving the trees to his future employer. Puri and D1 deny that they have exploited Indian biological resources without ensuring fair compensation to their country of origin, a practice known as 'biopiracy'. D1's head of communications, Graham Prince, told SciDev.Net: "The plants were tagged and delivered by the university then planted in one corner of our field so the university staff could supervise them. They are still there and they belong to the university." "This is a storm in a teacup," added Prince. "It smacks more of confusion than something sinister." In 2002, the Indira Gandhi Agricultural University was embroiled in another controversy, when it tried to enter into an agreement with Swiss company Syngenta to develop hybrid rice varieties. The deal would have given Syngenta access to a unique set of 19,000 strains of local rice varieties, collected by one of the university's scientists in the 1970s. When scientists and non-governmental organisations criticised the plan it was dropped (see "Syngenta drops plans for Indian rice venture": http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readnews&it emid=316 ). Rupantar, a Raipur-based non-governmental organisation working on biodiversity issues points out that a committee set up to investigate the rice deal has still not made its findings public. The university "has failed to protect the bio-resources of Chhattisgarh of which it is presumed to be custodian," says Suresh Sahu, head of Rupantar.