States, farmer groups unhappy with Seed Bill

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published Published on Jul 30, 2010   modified Modified on Jul 30, 2010

The Seed Bill continues to remain stuck in controversy with state governments as well as farmer groups not happy with the current shape of the legislation that the agriculture ministry is keen to introduce in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.

The issue of compensation for farmers in case of failure of seeds and regulation of seed prices has been raised by MPs as well as civil society groups.

While some have been demanding that the Bill provide for regulation of seed prices by setting up a compulsory licensing scheme, the Sharad Pawar-headed agriculture ministry has been opposed to such a provision.

Others have pointed out that the Seed Bill would come up in opposition to the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act which was seen by the seed industry to favour farmers.

Experts have contended that the Seed Bill, on the other hand, places greater manouvering space in the hands of large seed companies and gives them a carte blanche on pricing their products.

Andhra Pradesh, the biggest seed supplier in the country, has been at the helm of official protests against the Bill in its current shape. The AP government has a history of checking seed prices. It had earlier moved to regulate prices of Bt cotton seeds in the state and the multinational company affected had taken it to court on the issue.

Pawar had called a meeting of the states on Wednesday to resolve differences but no consensus could emerge on the issue of penalizing seed companies and price control -- concerns that had made Sonia Gandhi, Congress president and NAC head, in the first term of UPA put the Bill on hold. Andhra Pradesh respresentatives came out of the meeting with the concerns still unaddressed.

The Times of India, 30 July, 2010,

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