People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 05, 2006
Agreement On Agriculture:
Helping US Multinationals?
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued the following statement on March 1, 2006
the many agreements being signed during the Bush visit, two agreements have a
vital bearing on more than 60 per cent of Indian population, namely the
‘Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agricultural Research and Education’ and a
Biotechnology Agreement. This is a follow-up of the understanding reached during
Manmohan Singh’s US visit and subsequently, the Indo-US Umbrella Agreement
signed in October last year. Under the agricultural initiative, Monsanto and Wal
Mart are set to decide the Indian agriculture research agenda, as they are on
the governing board of this initiative.
Indian government has referred to the green revolution and the role that the US
land grant universities played in it as a prelude to signing these agreements.
Unlike the science of green revolution that came from public domain science,
today’s biotechnology revolution depends almost entirely on private domain
science. Therefore, an agreement that ties India’s research institutions to
Monsanto and other US MNCs means ensuring their dominance over India’s
agriculture. The private sector will identify the research areas with the aim of
government of India has also kept the entire country in the dark on the terms of
this agreement. According to reports, India seems prepared to accept
Intellectual Property Rights terms that the parliament had rejected last year.
It is well known that the US in its science and technology agreements with third
world countries pushes for IPRs flowing out of such agreements to accrue to the
country with more stringent IPR rights. By this, all worldwide rights coming out
of this initiative would belong to the US as their IPR regime offers patent
holders rights to life forms, plants and seeds. There is also a threat to India
and local communities losing the rights to indigenous genetic resources.
The country has not been told what are the terms of the umbrella agreement signed in October last year. The parliament and the people must be told about these issues before any grandiose agricultural knowledge initiative is signed between the US and India.