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Europe revokes U.S. patent on Indian neem tree

The European Patent Office revoked a six-year old patent covering the use of neem tree oil as a fungicide, upon learning that the oil had been used for the same purpose in India years before the patent was filed. The patent was held by the USDA and W.R. Grace, an international agriculture company. Members of the Green Party and others opposed the issue of the patent, claiming such "biopiracy" of plants or genes hurts people in developing countries. Such patents are becoming increasingly common as new botanical uses are discovered - there are close to 70 patents covering neem tree products alone. BBC, May 11, 2000.

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