India’s gene bank up for sale

According to news reports published in the United States, India’s gene bank, one of the biggest in the world, is being put on sale for multinationals, claimed Devinder Sharma, food and trade policy analyst on Sunday.

Sharma, who was speaking at the State Seed Conservator’s Convention organised by Southern Action on Genetic Engineering, said that this a decision against sovereignty and there can be nothing more scandalous than the proposed sell-out of plant germplasm by ICAR to multinationals. The Indian National Gene Bank, established by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) as part of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), has conserved more than 4 lakh samples.

A Wall Street Journal report quoted ICAR deputy director general saying that government wants to earn money by selling bioresource to MNCs.

The genebank is a treasure house of genetic diversity for the future generations to combat the exigencies of changing climate and to ensure food and nutritional security.

Sharma requested the farmers not to register the seed that is preserved, which is mandated as per the Seed Bill, 2010. “When the government’s ultimate motive is to sell the knowledge bank, why should people register their seed variety,” he questioned.

He also added that the government is forcibly pushing farmers out of agriculture, which is a dangerous scenario. This is what US did to its farmers decades ago.

Taking cue from the practices in Andhra Pradesh, he said that if 40 lakh hectares can be cultivated without using fertilizer, the model can be applied across the country. The farmers should  demand ‘State Farmers Income Commission’, that  guarantees decent funds (pension and PF).

express buzz