(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 04, 2009
Predatory Agri-Businesses Threaten Indian Agriculture
THROUGH a statement issued from
The statement pointed out that even as the Indian government is making a shrill campaign about a �Second Green Revolution,� it is becoming increasingly clear that, under the garb of the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), the real intention is to usher in an unbridled monopoly for the predatory agri-businesses like Monsanto which also is on the KIA Board. The statement noted that ever since the �new� seeds policy announced in 1988, multinational corporations (MNCs) entered the Indian seeds market in a big way and have, by a policy of mergers and acquisitions, taken over a bulk of the Indian private seeds companies. The giant corporations have gradually established control over the local seeds companies through buyouts, joint ventures and licensing arrangements, and established complete monopoly over the huge seeds market. The present policy allows 100 per cent FDI in the seeds industry and the institutionalisation of the MNCs� monopoly over the seeds sector as well as the agro-chemical sector, thereby placing the Indian farmers directly at their mercy.
The AIKS statement further said
the supply of seeds,
which was being taken care of earlier by the ingenuity of the Indian
well as the public sector seeds corporations and indigenous companies,
slipped into the control of global players like Monsanto. The enormous payments as royalty has ensured
that a continuous flow of profits accrue to these MNCs. Seeds
longer in the public domain as they are now the �intellectual property�
these MNCs. The withdrawal of state regulation has aided the creation
monopolies and the governmental policies are abetting the gradual
of the public sector seeds corporations. The Kisan Sabha noted that
companies --- Monsanto, Du Pont, Mitsui, Syngenta, Aventis and Dow ---
98 per cent of the world seeds market; in
Though the debate on the
question of genetically
modified (GM) crops has not yet been clinched, recently the European
cracked down stringently and sent back the GM crops coming from the
The AIKS statement noted that the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) under the ministry of commerce has prepared a draft note, stating that all the foreign direct investments would be approved through automatic route without any restrictions as royalty payments and subject only to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Current Account Transactions) Rules of 2000. The present stipulation is that there has to be compulsory approval if the technology transfer exceeds two million US dollars and the royalty payable exceeds five per cent on the domestic sales or eight per cent of the export sales, both pertaining to value addition. These caps were fixed so that Indian farmers were not burdened by high seed costs. But at a time when the powers of the MRTPC have been diluted, it is all the more essential to retain the existing safeguards.
The AIKS has demanded that the government of India and the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks take immediate steps to rein in the MNCs that are following restrictive trade practices and infringing upon the MRTP provisions. There must be a cap on the rate of royalty payment, to ensure that seeds are available at affordable prices. An Agri-Biotech Regulatory Authority must be set up to ensure that farmers are protected. In addition to these measures, the ministry of agriculture must take adequate measures to promote participatory plant breeding through an interface between the farming and the scientific community with attractive incentives, provide remunerative prices for the seeds developed through this mechanism, and also ensure certification to counter the seed monopolies and ensure self-sufficiency.