To most Indians, turmeric or haldi is a part of growing up, a magic cure-all for the excesses of childhood. A classic "grandmother's remedy", the virulent yellow powder or paste has been applied to the scrapes and cuts of generations of children. But in the US, two scientists were granted a patent to use this plant extract in its powder form for healing wounds. The scientists claimed they were the first to use turmeric (Curcuma longa) for this purpose.

Seeking patents for indigenous products abroad has never been India's strong point. Right under her nose, the US granted patents on neem and turmeric, two products which are household names in the

The 32nd US patent on neem was give to FMC Corporation of Philadelphia. It is the corporation's second patent titled, "Combinations of neem seed extract and bifenthrin for control of

Bhargava adds: "Unfortunately, neem is not the only case where we have lost out. We (at the CCMB) discovered a protein called seminal plasmin (published in Nature and widely publicised in the late

Director, Malaria Research Centre, Delhi

21.8.85 USP 4531114 Terumo Corporation, Japan: HOT WATER EXTRACTS OF THE NEEMBARK, active against mouse L-5178Y cells and transplanted sarcoma 180 tumours; use: anti-cancer properties

Director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad

Former chairperson, University Grants Commission

7.8.90 U5P 4946681/2.1.91 EP 0405701 W R Grace&Co, USA: METtlODTOPREP~AN J MP R OVED STOM G E"SJABLENEEM SEEDEXTRACTfo r the prod uc. tiollof stableazadirach till sol~tions cowp!ising

An additional search for neem-related patents through the US patent database, carried out in late December, 1995, revealed the existence of two more patents. Both were obtained by US corporations: