ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Suman SahaiSubscribe to Suman Sahai

Agro-biodiversity as a Resource

The ravages of climate change will be particularly harsh in South Asia and India, posing serious challenges to its agriculture and related livelihoods and to its food and nutrition security. Though the high level of uncertainty about its manifestation makes it difficult to deal with climate change, one of the most effective tools to deal with it is agro-biodiversity. It is important to move away from an exclusive focus on techno-fixes and towards time-tested resources like genetic diversity and indigenous knowledge.

Golden Rice: Not Food for the Poor

Syngenta and the Humanitarian Board it has set up have recently taken steps to ensure complete control over golden rice. Gone apparently are the pious intentions of delivering this rice to the world's poor. It looks rather like there is a high-end 'nutraceutical' in the making, a golden health food for those who can afford these things.

Bt-Cotton, 2003-2004

In the 2003-04 cotton season, almost all cotton regions were swamped with a large number of illegal variants of Bt-cotton, derived from the original Navbharat 151. It is not possible to judge the real performance of any of the Bt cotton varieties.

Distrust of GM Foods

The real reasons for the many strands of resistance to GM foods will have to be understood and taken on board if the current impasse is to be bridged. To allow a fair and critical evaluation of GM technology, policy-making in this area will have to be open to public scrutiny.

Performance of Bt Cotton

Results of small field study in selected locations in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, two of the six states that have been granted permission to commercially cultivate Bt cotton - the first genetically-modified crop to be cultivated in India.

Bt Cotton: Confusion Prevails

'Magical' Bt cotton seeds from Gujarat have flooded the market and the government is yet to begin any sort of education or information campaign to explain the problems with the seed and the precautions that need to be taken.

Plant Variety Protection and Farmers' Rights Law

A long and arduous struggle for the recognition of the rights of farmers has ended with the passing of the Plant Variety Protection and Farmers Rights Bill by the Lok Sabha. The bill recognises the farmer as a conserver of the agricultural gene pool and as a breeder. It makes provision for such farmers' varieties to be registered. The rights of rural communities are acknowledged as well. While the bill can be improved in some respects, the next major step is to decide through which international platform India will interact with other nations. At present the only such platform is UPOV. However, India should work, with other developing countries, to evolve an alternative to UPOV.

TRIPS Review: Basic Rights Must Be Restored

There is broad consensus that TRIPS in its present form is unacceptable because it violates the fundamental rights of people. Civil society organisations across the world are mobilising opinion to intervene in the TRIPS review process. What are the changes must be negotiated during the current review of TRIPS?

Farmers' Rights and Food Security

The new bill on plant variety protection and farmers' rights has provisions on sale of seeds by farmers which threaten India's food security and thereby its national security.

Protection of New Plant Varieties

The UPOV system seeks to protect the interests of powerful seed companies who are the breeders. Our laws should focus on protecting the interests of farmers as producers as well as consumers of seed. An alternative treaty being discussed currently would provide a forum for developing countries to implement their farmers' and breeders' rights.

What Is Bt and What Is Terminator?

Trials of a genetically altered cotton variety (Bt cotton) conducted by the American company Mosanto which also happens to own the terminator technology have provided the trigger linking the two because of coincidence and confusion. The two are not related except for the fact that they are both genetic creations.

Protecting Basmati

Suman Sahai AN American company Rice Tech has received a patent on basmati rice, This blatant infringement of India's rights and property has raised a furore in the media and justifiably so, How should India respond? In planning its counter strategy, it would not be advisable for India to merely rely on challenging the patent as is being advocated. This is the easiest and least profitable line of action, as also the most expensive. It would not be difficult to challenge the 'novelty' of the characteristics of the basmati that is patented. Any plant breeder could quite easily demonstrate that the special qualities supposed to be present in the patented basmati are found in the normal diversity of basmati populations. If one had to analyse the basmati strains of India and Pakistan, all the characteristics described for size and quality of the rice grain or for the height and behaviour of the plant, would be found. The case can be effectively made that at best the patented variety has brought a combination of favourable characters together but that is the everyday stuff of plant breeding and does not qualify for a patent.


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