Under fire

the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (irri) has admitted that it had allowed us rice-breeders to take out Thai jasmine rice seeds without signing the Material Transfer Agreement (mta). Not only has the institute's move drawn flak from jasmine rice farmers in Bangkok, it has led genetic conservators and farm groups to question the credibility of irri.

Representatives of Thailand's Department of Agriculture (doa) and National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec) recently returned after their probe into the incident. Thanit Changthavorn, Biotec's expert on intellectual property rights, said the us rice-breeders had signed a contract under which they had given a commitment that they would not patent or restrict what they bred from Thai jasmine rice.

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