Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hope this Seed bill 2010 is farmer friendly

Greetings from "My Right to Safe Food"

"Seed" the most unassuming potent gift of life that which is most sacred to me is under siege and assault. I have been consistently alerting and raising alarms about safeguarding traditional organic seeds. SEEDS THE KERNEL OF LIFE ITSELF, THE SOURCE OF OUR FOOD, WHEN CONTAMINATED, HAVE AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON OUR HEALTH AND THE HEALTH OF OUR PLANET. Resulting in a very sick society. Exactly, the state of affairs in our country! Devastating as it may sound but this is the hard core truth.

Seeds cannot be imprisoned by the yoke of legality to be patented by laboratories, to be modified or sterilized by transnationals or for that matter the property of a handful of corporations. Biodiversity is a planetary heritage, which is the fruit of the work of hundreds of generations of rural farmers. This heritage does not belong to anyone in particular: it is a legacy for the future.

“Seeds belong to no one it is a gift of life to life itself”.

The objective of the greed driven seed corporations are to make farmers dependent on them. So that each year farmers have to purchase sterile seeds along with their corresponding chemical fertilizers and pesticides at obnoxious costs. Mounting farmers’ debts and deaths is primarily the outcome of farmers having to adopt these intensive corrosive methods.

After 60 odd years of Independence, the monthly average income of a farmer remains a paltry sum of Rs 2100, far below the poverty line. Yet, he is expected to purchase industry driven manipulated seeds, not replicable and that too at unaffordable costs. A chaprasi (clerk) in a government office is far better off than a farmer. He earns a sizable amount of Rs 10,000 with perks like medical, bonus, leave benefits, thanks to the sixth pay commission. But the backbone of our economy - "the farmer who feeds this nation" is not considered worthy of any State benefit expected only to live off credits. No wonder the balance and harmony that once prevailed is at the brink of disaster.

Seed freedom goes far beyond freedom for the farmer from corporations. It indicates freedom of diverse cultures from centralised control.

Please read below, why agriculture is not sustainable. With a faulty seed bill craftily designed to fill industry coffers, neither food security measures nor the overall health of the nation is of any consequence to policy makers. Who is to suffer apart from the ones producing it, consumers, of course!!!

Just recall... not so long ago, each day was an occasion to celebrate like festivals serving local home-made nutritional recipes. Tradition and grandeur was followed by conforming to our wise ancestral heritage. Which is why chronic diseases were far and few in number! Primarily because soil and traditional seeds were nurtured with so much care and devotion. Both the soil and seeds once rich in minerals and micro nutrients are fast being made to disappear, thanks to the dictats of seed corporations and faulty seed policies.

The result being each day now is tagged by a disease like the World Cancer day, World Hypertension day, World Diabetic day, World Heart day, World BP day to name a few. Many more diseases unheard off are being unveiled with gusto by medical experts further encashed by the pharmaceutical industry. Masses of monies are spent on medical research to provide remedies/cures through advertising drugs and hospitals supposedly to combat pain and suffering. The ground reality is that most drugs provide short term relief which in turn reduces immunities. It suppresses the disease only to accelerate the cause making it chronic because the food you eat is not giving you the required nutrition. By then, you are drugged for life. When food is devoid of nutrition, worse still toxic, no worth in gold can save you.

At gatherings the medications that provide relief against minor and major ailments is the topic of discussion. Every second house i peer into has a cancer patient. To a headache, cold or fever you pop medicines like never before and surrender yourselves to doctors ( with no offense to genuine medical experts). Patience is no longer a virtue. Appalling to witness the ease with which you make your bodies so readily available for trails as human experimental guinea pigs. You choose to do this for you no longer have any faith in yourself, nor the time to connect with your source, nor exercise any will to control your senses.

As long as you sit quiet and pretty tight with no time to question the source of your food, prepare yourself to suffer new outbreak of diseases.

In solidarity
Sangita Sharma

Seed bill retake
Monitor seed prices, not just quality, say farmer groups

Jyotika Sood

THE Union agriculture ministry will redraft the seed bill following complaints by MPs, states and farmer groups. Their main grouse is that the bill, which aims to regulate the quality of seeds, does not monitor their prices, crucial for farmers.

The Seed Bill 2010 was approved by the Cabinet in March and was to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha in mid-April. Sources in the ministry said MPs and state government have suggested over 100 amendments.

The bill, first drafted in 2004, updates the Seed Act of 1966 to address two main changes: genetically modified seeds and the entry of private and foreign seed companies. Farmers and seed producers contest its provisions on price, accountability and distribution of regulatory powers between the Centre and states. Andhra Pradesh—the seed production capital of India—is backing farmer groups (see: Andhra wishlist). On May 3, state agriculture minister N Raghuveera Reddy led a delegation of 15 MPs and farmer groups to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The delegation also met Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Unregulated price

At present, most states do not control the prices of seeds sold by hybrid seed companies.

The companies fix their own prices. They often exploit farmers, said D Narasimha Reddy, chief adviser with Chetana Society of farmers and activists in Andhra Pradesh. “It has been six years (since the 2004 draft) and the Centre has failed to include a clause related to seed price, which should be the essence of the bill,” he said.

Seed producers oppose this.

The National Seed Association of India, a group of over 200 seed producers, said price controls—by Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, for example—are making hybrid seed business unsustainable. According to the association, the seed industry has invested more than Rs 6,000 crore in research and infrastructure over the past 20 years.

Research and development involved in developing hybrids along with the challenges of weather makes it a high-risk business—the chance of developing a product that is successful in the market is less than 50 per cent, it said.

Inadequate compensation, penalty

The seed bill proposes setting up a national committee to compensate farmers in case seeds fail to perform as promised. Farmer groups argue that a national compensation committee is too distant and expensive for small farmers. How can small farmers access it when their grievances are not properly addressed at the state level, asked M Kodand Reddy, chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Kisan and Mazdoor Congress. He suggested a district-level committee.

Proposed penalties for misbranding or selling substandard seeds include a fine of Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000. This is too small for a seed producer earning crores of rupees, said an official in the Andhra Pradesh agriculture department.

Inspector raj

The bill gives seed inspectors the power to take samples from anyone selling, buying or transporting seeds. The inspector can even search and seize seeds without a warrant. Such unbridled power, many fear, would give rise to a bureaucracy with farmers at the receiving end.

The seed bill also affects Centre-state politics by limiting states’ role in seed regulation—states will have limited membership in the central seed committee, the main regulatory body. “Agriculture is a state subject. How can state governments be deprived of substantial power to take decisions?” asked Reddy.

Another concern is that the bill by allowing import of seeds may turn farmers’ fields into sites for experiments. ngos and farmer groups are asking that imported seeds be first tested and certified and then sold to farmers.

1 comment:

  1. If you find MONSANTO or evidence of other engineered seed on your land - it should be your RIGHT to sue the makers of that seed for invasion and the resulting damages.