Under the New World Order of the World Trade Organization (WTO), corporations now have the right to "discover" seeds and genetic materials used by indigenous peoples for centuries, and patent these materials, thereby obtaining monopoly rights to its products and profits. One such example is that of India's Neem Tree, traditionally considered a sacred tree, whose seeds have a fungicidal quality that has been common knowledge to the indigenous people of India for centuries. Despite this widespread traditional use, an American company, Thermo Trilogy, was able to obtain a patent on that process. In other words, using Neem Tree seeds as a fungicide suddenly became illegal, unless you paid Thermo Trilogy its royalties first. But last week, for the first time in history, a patent has been revoked as a matter of protecting traditional knowledge and practices. This landmark decision, made by the European Patent Office, is being celebrated in India and will likely inspire the reassessment of dozens of other similar patents.
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