Jute Genome Patents

Over $8m 'to be spent' on legal fees

The government plans to spend $8.25 million on legal assistance over a span of 15 years to take out patents on jute genomes decoded by Bangladeshi scientists.

To gain an exclusive right to the use of the intellectual property, US law firm Foley Hoag was appointed in 2010, said a foreign ministry official.

A foreign ministry proposal in this regard may be placed today before the cabinet committee on purchase for approval.

Bangladeshi scientists led by Maqsudul Alam decoded the genomes of two types of jute plants in 2010 and 2013.

Maqsudul and his team in 2012 also decoded the genome of a bacteria harmful to more than 500 crops.

Applications have already been filed for seven out of 15 patents on the intellectual property. Preparations for filing the rest are underway. 

Several countries, including a neighbouring country, have been competing with Bangladesh for patent on jute plant genome, which is why the government was quick to appoint the law firm, the foreign ministry official said, preferring not to be named.  

Bangladeshi researchers have successfully decoded the jute plant genomes opening up a new vista in the development of varieties of the world's most adorned biodegradable natural fibre.

Experts said this gene sequencing would help improve the fibre length and quality, including colours and strength, and develop high yielding and saline, soil- and pest-tolerant jute varieties through genetic engineering.

With the successful sequencing of jute genome, Bangladesh becomes the second country after Malaysia, among the developing nations, to achieve such a feat.

A genome sequence allows scientists to identify and understand how genes work together for the plant's different features like growth, development and maintenance as an entire organism. This in turn allows them to manipulate the genes and enhance, reduce or add certain features.

Bangladesh is the world's second-largest producer of jute, after India, and the world's largest exporter of the fibre.


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