26 June 2000
Basmati on the WTO menu

A ROW over a the patenting of a new variety of basmati rice looks certain to be on the agenda of World Trade Organisation beginning on Monday (26 June).

American company Rice Tec has devised a new basmati plant by crossing it with dwarf rice so it can be grown in the USA.

But the Indian government claims the move will hit its farmers, reports the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

India argues patenting does not recognise the rights of farmers who have developed these varieties over many generations.

Under Indian legislation, varieties cannot be patented, which it says places it at a disadvantage to the USA.

Developing countries are looking to the WTO to provide the forum for discussing the impact of patenting before deciding what action to take.