W. R. Grace & Co. And the Neemix Patent (a)

11 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008

See all articles by Patricia H. Werhane

Patricia H. Werhane

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Kristi Severance

Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative - Legislative Assistance and Research Program

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper


Neemix is a natural biopesticide developed by W. R. Grace from the neem tree, which is indigenous to rural India. Because of its medicinal and religious use by rural Indians for more than 1,000 years, the Foundation on Economic Trends is protesting Grace's patenting of Neemix. The A case raises questions concerning international intellectual-property rights and how American companies such as Grace should deal with these issues. See also the B case (UVA-E-0158).



W.R. Grace & Co. and the Neemix Patent (A)

“[Neem] seems to be one of the most promising of all plants

and may eventually benefit every person on the planet.”

—National Research Council report on Neem, 1992

Derived from the seeds of the Indian neem tree and touted as a safe, natural biopesticide, Neemix seemed to be a benevolent product that promised W. R. Grace & Company (WRG) profits and farmers a sustainable means of fighting pests. Three years earlier, Grace researchers had been granted a patent on the pesticide, and since that time Neemix had become far more than just another product in the company's line. Grace, the world's largest manufacturer of specialty chemicals, had never expected Neemix to be a major source of income for the company, but steady sales since its introduction to market supported the prediction that consumers were interested in purchasing completely natural, environmentally friendly pesticides, rather than chemical ones. The active ingredient in Neemix, azadirachtin, is a compound that occurs naturally in neem seeds and possesses the ideal characteristic of being fatally harmful to more than 200 species of insect pests, while remaining non-toxic to other plants and beneficial animals. By early 1995, sales of Neemix brought in about $ 60 million annually out of Grace's total of $ 5 billion in annual sales, and references in the press to the effectiveness of Neemix were becoming frequent.

. . .

Keywords: environmental issues, ethical issues, ethics, medical

Suggested Citation

Werhane, Patricia H. and Severance, Kristi, W. R. Grace & Co. And the Neemix Patent (a). Darden Case No. UVA-E-0157, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1277704 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1277704

Patricia H. Werhane (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4840 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/werhane.htm

Kristi Severance

Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative - Legislative Assistance and Research Program ( email )

740 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005-1019
United States

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