Crop Care Federation of India is at it again. After taking on anti-GM activists in a full-page advertisement (or advertorial) in the Business Standard in July 2020, it has issued a half-page ad in the Indian Express making a case for the invocation of compulsory licensing in India. The association says Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta have been granted nine and three patents respectively in India but have worked only four and one. It cites Section 83 of the Indian Patents Act which says that a patent must be fully worked as soon as possible. Section 85 prescribes the procedure for revocation of a patent if it is not worked in India and Section 146(2) of the Act requires every patentee to file an annual statement with the authorities about the extent to which they have worked their patent on a commercial scale in India.
The intention behind the law is to ensure patented products being innovative are available to Indian consumers and are not used to block competition for private profit.
The Federation cites as an example, Isotianil, a fungicide patented by Bayer over 20 years ago. It is meant for the control of blast disease in rice. Though India had granted a patent for this product, the Federation says the company did not launch it till its patent expired in 2018. Bayer, it says has introduced the product in several countries, including Ecuador, South Korea, Vietnam, China and Columbia. India is the second-largest rice producer in the world. Rice blast is a major problem causing significant yield losses.
The Federation says the patentees have deliberately not worked the patent to preserve their monopoly.
The Federation wants the government to take up this issue in the India-EU free trade agreement negotiations. It says it has listed 15 pesticides that have not been introduced in India for up to 10 years after the grant of patent. It has advised its members to apply to the government for compulsory licensing, that is to allow them to produce the molecules, with, of course, payment of royalty to the patentees.
Crop Care Federation is an industry body whose mover and shaker is Rajju Shah, Chairman of UPL, which is among the top producers and exporters of agrochemicals in the country.
(Photo is of Crop Care Federation’s advertisement in the Indian Express on 26 May, 2021)