EXTRACT: Investment and expenses incurred on agricultural research will be borne by us but the Indian agricultural scientist will work at the dictates of American multinationals, converting the entire country into a big research lab. of MNCs.
A LETTER SENT BY AN INDIAN FARMERS LEADER TO THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE RULING UPA COALITION
Dr. Krishan Bir Chaudhary
BHARAT KRISHAK SAMAJ
(Former Chairman-State Farms Corporation of India )
Date: 30th April, 2007
Respected Smt. Sonia Jee,
I am sending a brief note on "US-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative" agreement on agriculture for your kind perusal. The entire agreement is shroud in mystery and the farmers of the country have serious apprehensions about the real intent and motive of the joint agreement. Indian Agricultural Scientists have done a very splendid job through years of sustained research. Their scientific acumen and compatibility can match the best of faculty in the world.
This agriculture agreement will oblige our scientist to became a tool in the hands of the multinationals for advancement & promotion of their interest in India. I would like to give a brief on the entire gamut of the US-India agreement as the matter concerns India's sovereignty and the future of Indian agriculture.
With kind regards.
(Krishan Bir Chaudhary)
Smt. Sonia Gandhi,
10-Janpath, New Delhi.
US-INDIA Agricultural Knowledge Initiative *Dr. Krishan Bir Chaudhary, Executive Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj
The US-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative agreement on agriculture will cast a demonising spell over the country and is bound to cause large scale plunder of the agro-rural society and definitely tend to capitalize on our living, life pattern, culture and social norms. Already much maligned, misconceived and utterly irrelevant Second Green Revolution is a clever ploy to promote the interest of multinationals. The Companies like Monsanto, Wall-Mart etc. is on the board of US-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative Agreement to monitor agricultural research, education and dissemination and exchange of knowledge between US and India.
The so-called "Second Green Revolution" has no connection with the First Green Revolution in which the seeds were with the farmers. The agricultural pact is a part of the larger picture of emerging trend of globalization which aims towards corporatisation of agriculture. The entire game is aimed at promoting the interest of multinationals. The US-Indo agreement amounts to an open invitation to the American multinationals to take over and control of our inputs and all other resources. This will enable them to avail unbridled sway over our agro-rural system.
This US-India Agreement on Agriculture is a cut-throat maneuver and it is really disgusting that now the multinationals will teach lessons to our scientists on the type of technology India needs, and they will be obliged to work at the dictates of multinationals and dance to their tunes. This agreement is fraught with the lurking danger that these American multinationals will get access to our Germ Plasm Bank of indigenous crop varieties and get them patented in their names. It is really silly and shameful. Indian Agricultural Universities, K.V.Ks and Research Centres will act as extension agencies to promote the technologies of American multinationals.
The so-called training programmes have been worked out for the advancement and promotion of genetic engineering and GMOs in India on behalf of the multinationals. This will facilitate take over of production and smooth access into the consumership trade by the MNCs. By Patenting and Branding Seeds, they will openly exploit Indian agriculture. India will be coerced into production of raw materials for the American multinationals and in turn these multinationals will sell their branded end products through misleading advertisements and catchy slogans, labelling their products efficacious, hygienic and safe from health point of view. As we visualise, the day is not far off that the multinationals will decide that what to be grown by the Indian farmers & what to be eaten by the Indian consumers.
Thrusting the American model of agriculture on Indian agricultural system will cause untold destruction, miseries and disrupt our identity & entity as one of the largest farming country in the world. The small and marginal farmers will be doomed forever.
Investment and expenses incurred on agricultural research will be borne by us but the Indian agricultural scientist will work at the dictates of American multinationals, converting the entire country into a big research lab. of MNCs. This agreement will require India to place the scientific manpower and the vast natural resources at the disposal of multinationals. We apprehend, the agreement has been formulated in such a way that it will promote corporate and contract farming and thereby forcing the farmers to work as labourers in their own farm. Our planners are playing an extremely dubious role which is absolutely not in the national interest. The entire agricultural research will go into the lap of the multinationals. The agreement will prove to be perilous to Indian agriculture and severely endanger our food security.
The Govt. morally owes an explanation to the nation because political compulsions whatsoever, should never be given precedence over national interest that will imperil the livelihood resources of the people, snatching them of their daily bread. Let there be a comprehensive debate over this issue in Indian Parliament. A constitutional amendment must be brought that will require that all bilateral and multi-lateral agreements must be approved by two third majority in Parliament.
o It is highly regrettable that the major stakeholders in agriculture in India, like farmer's organizations, State governments, Standing Committees of Parliament, civil society organizations and eminent academics, have not been consulted in preparing the framework of the agriculture deal nor in determining the focus areas.
o Through the Agriculture Knowledge Initiative, the US has asked for unhindered access to the rich biodiversity in India's gene banks. The terms and conditions of the CBD like Prior Informed Consent, Material Transfer Agreement and Benefit Sharing under which our genetic resources will be accessed must be clearly specified. America is a notable dissenter to the CBD and has not ratified it.
o All features of the agriculture deal must be in consonance with existing Indian policy and legislation, the National Biodiversity Act and the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act.
o It is extremely regrettable that there is no information in the public domain about the US-Indo Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture. It is in clear violation of S. 4(1) (c) which states " Every public authority shall-Publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public".
o It is alarming that there is no mention in the deal of key issues of genetic engineering, like respecting crops in their centers of origin, of protecting socio-economic interests of rural and tribal communities and implementing a regime for liability and redress incase something goes wrong with a genetically engineered crop or fish or animal.
o Key policy issues with respect to Intellectual Property Rights must be implemented, for instance
* If a database of Indian genetic material is compiled through the collaborative research, the ownership should remain with India.
* The process of granting the Intellectual Property Rights on outcome of research using Indian genetic resources should be clarified.
* In case of conflict over IPRs, the Indian law should be applicable.
* The technology and knowledge gained through the collaborative research should be freely accessible to the Indian scientific community and remain in the public domain.
* The agriculture pact should enable India to have free access to the public sector technology and research in US universities and research institutions.
* The privately owned US technologies should be made available to India for free or at concessional rates? If we have to pay market rates, then what is the point of a deal?
* The farmers benefit from the programs of the agriculture deal should be clarified. When a new variety is produced from the Indian genetic material, it should be freely available to them at an affordable cost.
* The new varieties should be made available to farmers through public research institutions as done during the Green Revolution and should not be given to the private sector for commercialization?
In view of the large number of uncertainties and lack of transparency with respect to the US-Indo deal on agriculture, we asked that:
1. The content of the Agriculture Pact must be debated and approved by the Parliament before any decision is taken on its implementation.
2. A multi-stakeholder body of independent experts should be set up to conduct a series of public hearings nationwide, to discuss the content of the Agriculture Pact and elicit people's views on it.
3. The implementation of the Agriculture Agreement must be in consonance with Indian policy and legislation, ensuring that Farmers Rights are upheld and the rights of local communities over agro biodiversity is maintained.
4. Since Agriculture is a state subject, all matters related to it should be decided in consent with State Legislatures before final approval by Parliament.
5. Informed consultations with the scientific community, farmer's organizations and elected representatives must precede any decisions taken in the field of agriculture.