While Trinidad and Tobago considers its legal options regarding intellectual property claims to the world's hottest pepper, an Australian company marketing the variety known as the "Trinidad Scorpion Butch T" is finding keen markets in Australia, the United Kingdom and United States."Lots of people here in Australia, but also in the UK and USA, are big on hot chillies," a spokesman for The Chilli Factory based in New South Wales, Australia, replied to questions via e-mail from the Trinidad Guardian.A recent Guardian article pointed to the fact that the "Scorpion" had been adjudged the world's hottest pepper- reaching 1,463,700 units on the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) scale. Before that, the "Naga Viper," developed in England, clocking 1,359,000 SHUs, had been considered to be at the top of the heat scale.
Leading the charge for at least "geographical indication" rights to the "Scorpion" variety is the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Cardi) whose Herman Adams-a consultant plant breeder-claims the country should move more aggressively to lay claim to the pepper.The Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of Legal Affairs already has a brief before it on the issue. Growers and processors of the "Scorpion" in Australia have openly acknowledged its origins and it is being marketed as a "Trinidad" variety.
A position paper prepared by Adams and University of the West Indies (UWI) under-graduate researcher, Nadia Ramtahal, contends that the original germplasm for all Capsicum pepper species "originated in the tropical Americas, including the Caribbean of which Trinidad and Tobago is a part."Adams and a team of researchers had, in 2005, collected the germplasm of the Scorpion variety from six locations around Trinidad and Tobago, isolated it in Tobago and produced "fully selfed seeds"-a process involving the generation of seeds derived from pollen and eggs from the same plant.
"The result was the successful selection of the elite plants of a pureline with the berries of the highest pungency and aroma," the Cardi paper says.Analyses on capsaicin content were carried out in a UWI laboratory, showing the "Scorpion" to be in excess of 1,000,000 SHUs.Similar work has also been conducted on other indigenous varieties such as the West Indies Red, Cardi Green, Moruga Red, Hood, Bejucal and the Faria peppers.Adams believes Trinidad and Tobago has science on its side when it comes to claims to the "Scorpion.""All parental material would have originally come from the Caribbean centre of hot pepper diversity in the Tropical Americas," the paper produced by Adams and Ramtahal contends."All Capsicum species were introduced into other parts of the world where they were adapted," the paper says."This was the case of the Scorpion superhot pepper which is clearly germplasm from Trinidad and Tobago where it is indigenous from time immemorial and where it is still grown and maintained by small farmers all over the country."