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

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Fault Lines in the 2010 Seeds Bill

The 2010 Seeds Bill that has been introduced in Parliament does address some of the major concerns in the aborted 2004 version, but strangely a number of important correctives - on regulation, consistency and punishment - that had been incorporated in the 2008 version (which lapsed in 2009) have now been modified or dropped altogether. What forces are pushing the government to act against the interests of India's farmers?

The third edition of the Seeds Bill 2004 is currently before Parliament. The 2004 Bill was withdrawn in the face of opposition from farmers, civil society and parliamentarians on the ground that many of its provisions were anti-farmer, pro-corporate and also contradicting other national laws on plant v arieties protection, biological diversity and biosafety.

The bill was therefore referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture (PSCA) chaired by Ram Gopal Yadav. The report of the PSCA, submitted in October 2006, addressed almost all the concerns raised by stakeholders and r ecommended exhaustive revamp of the legislation. A second edition introduced in Parliament in 2008 incorporated many of these recommendations. The bill, however, lapsed with the prorogation of 14th Lok Sabha. A third edition of the Seeds Bill was recently introduced in Parliament. A reading of the bills presented in 2008 and 2010 reveals a consistent unwillingness of the government to accept some of the recommendations of the PSCA, which are important in establishing a farmer-friendly and accountable seed trade and a backtracking from some of the accepted recommendations.

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