Major international seed companies have formed an alliance to oppose a proposal by India that would force them to share their GM crop technology with local players
The article below reports that the GMO giants have joined forces to oppose an Indian government proposal to force them to share their GM crop technology with local firms. In reality, this opposition from the GMO firms could prove a boon to Indian farmers and markets, as it will help restrict the spread of risky and unwanted GM crops.
Note that there is zero evidence for Reuters’ claim below that introducing GM crops “could help reduce heavy import bills for items like edible oils that it needs to feed its huge and growing population” – since there is no scientific evidence that GM oilseed crops have higher yields.
The real reason why India is having to import edible oils is not because of domestic underproduction, but because government policy has led India to become the dumping ground for cheap imported palm oil, as the writer Colin Todhunter explains:
“Until the mid-1990s, India was virtually self-sufficient in edible oils. Then import tariffs were reduced, leading to an influx of cheap (subsidised) edible oil imports that domestic farmers could not compete with. This was a deliberate policy that effectively devastated the home-grown edible oils sector.”
Foreign seed firms team up to oppose new India GM crop rules
Reuters, 26 Aug 2016
Major international seed companies formed an alliance on Friday to oppose a proposal by India that would force them to share their genetically modified crop technology with local players.
Executives from the India businesses of Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Dupont Pioneer and Syngenta, which have formed the alliance, said seed prices should be set by the market rather than by regulation.
The show of solidarity comes after Monsanto, which pioneered the use of GM cotton in India, pulled an application for its next-generation product from the approvals process on concerns over the security of its intellectual property.
An executive from Bayer India said nobody would invest in research if the proposed introduction of compulsory licensing - which would force a company to share its intellectual property if the government so orders - is implemented.
India does not yet allow GM food crops, whose introduction could help reduce heavy import bills for items like edible oils that it needs to feed its huge and growing population. A domestically developed GM mustard product is, however, inching its way through the approvals process.
But political and public opposition to lab-altered food remains strong amid fears that GM crops could compromise food safety and biodiversity.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Mayank Bhardwaj; Writing by Malini Menon; Editing by Douglas Busvine)