Agri-biotechnology Agriculture Policy Briefing

“Nuziveedu Seeds’ Fight is on the Point and Interpretation of Patent Law; its Business Interest is Secondary”

S M Khan, spokesperson for Nuziveedu Seeds alleges bias on the part of Vivian Fernandes. Khan’ response in the Financial Express on 28 June to Fernandes’ column in that newspaper is reproduced as is without comment.

This is with reference to the news articles authored by Vivian Fernandes, on the ongoing litigations and IPR law interpretations relating to access and use of biotechnology trait in cotton, published in the Financial Express.

While we appreciate and welcome objective analysis of facts, issues and Indian IPR law, we find from the articles of Mr Fernandes that such balanced and fair analysis of the narrative, which is the policy of your esteemed newspaper, is missing. The single objective appears to be to support Monsanto, an MNC with deep pockets, and tarnish M Prabhakar Rao, the chairman & Managing director of Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL), who opposed Monsanto’s monopolistic business practices, and also levelling upon him personal aspersions in the ongoing legal matter, which is sub judice before the High Court.  The author appears to be using your newspaper to run a false campaign against Mr Prabhakar Rao.

We reiterate that the fight is on the point of law and its interpretation, and the business interest is subsidiary. The interpretation of Indian IPR law by the High Court will bring clarity and prevent abuse of law through misinterpretation. While the matter is sub judice, the intention of the article appears to create confusion in the minds of regulators.

The IPR issues relating to GM technologies are complex, multidimensional and techno-legal, with significant implications on the agriculture and socio-economic landscape of India. The ongoing litigation on these issues have provided an opportunity for a healthy public debate, with expression of technical and legal views from both the sides of argument on a  different fora including traditional and digital media. However, instead of providing a balanced and correct coverage on both perspectives, Mr Fernandes continues to take side of one party and particularly target individuals and seems to be implying motives and interlinking with unrelated subjects and making baseless allegations. A few examples are:

Cropping Monsanto’s patent rights ( In this article, the author links the views of Mr Prabhakar Rao with that of the Additional Solicitor General, pointing to an opportunity for implication of motives.

PPVFR Act dispensing with NOCs: Agriculture ministry rendered hollow the plant trait patents of companies like Monsanto (https://goo/gl/9VznXZ).  In this article, the author undermines the collective wisdom and responsibility of PPVFR authority and emphasises on the opinion of Mr Rao who is also a member of PPVFR.

It is also to bring to your notice that Mr Fernandes has been publishing a blog by the name Smart Indian Agriculture, wherein many such articles which reflect bias, publication without prior consent, sensationalising issues with scant regards to the alternate perspective and casting aspersions have been observed. The pattern of expression and reporting on the main issue therefore indicates advocacy towards a particular organization or cause and does not reflect true spirit of journalism of reporting and analysing from both the sides of the story. Therefore, we request you to assess and take suitable action so that balanced views are reported in your esteemed publication. We are not commenting on the legal issues involved in the ongoing litigations as they are already sub judice and, anyway, Mr Fernandes has been very superficial in touching the legal issues in his articles and, in fact, avoided legal comments vis-a-vis existing provisions of Indian IPR law.

(Top photo of M Prabhakara Rao by Vivian Fernandes).

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