The pact of “seed factions” will eliminate the agro-technological impasse “

The deal between domestic seed manufacturers and research-based seed companies raised eyebrows after the two sides, who had been in a tug-of-war for over 16 years, agreed last week on a ‘framework’ on the value of characters and technology licenses.

The Seed Industry Federation of India (FSII) believes the framework would facilitate smoother access to new technologies for national seed companies.

“Many new technologies, both genetically modified (GM) and non-GM, have advanced global agriculture over the past decade, when our farmers and our seed industry suffered from the deadlock in the flow of technologies due to disputes between technology providers and licensees. », Declared M Ramasami, president of the FSII Activity area.

Modern technology

“This framework will put an end to that and give confidence to technology providers to introduce new technologies into the country. Indian seed companies will gain because they will be equipped to develop new varieties of plants using modern technological tools, ”said Ramasami, also president of Raasi Seeds (P) Limited.

“This will help the industry to modernize, to develop seeds to combat many of the biotic and abiotic stresses that are emerging, to combat climate change and to grow in size,” he said.

Access to smaller players

Mandava Prabhakara Rao, president of the National Seed Association of India (NSAI), which represents national seed manufacturers, said the agreement between the two associations would allow smaller seed companies to access agro-biotechnology solutions, making them competitive. with other players.

National seed players have locked horns with agro-biotechnology companies, particularly Mahyco-Monsanto on issues of trait value and the provision of technology to smaller seed players.

“Previously, setting the value of the trait was arbitrary. At one point, the trait value was 1,250 per pack, while the cost of seeds is only 450. The new framework fixed this 5-20% of the seed value, ”said Prabhakara Rao, also managing director of Nuziveedu Seeds Limited.

Focus on R&D

The FSII president said the deal would help research companies focus on research and development.

“Due to several disputes and issues that have led to the stagnation of the flow of new biotech tools into the country, Indian agriculture has remained a weak attraction for research companies,” Ramasami said.

“Foreign companies have reduced their investment in technological development research in India, some of them have closed or downsized their biotechnology centers and some of them have withdrawn their regulatory demands or suspended their plans for launch of new technologies, ”he said.

The framework will give hope to research firms outside and in India that there is greater certainty of bringing the technologies to market and achieving reasonable returns on investment.

“This certainty and predictability will help companies determine the scale of investment required, the returns they can expect and likely deadlines. It will make a big difference in the plans of different companies to bring new technologies to the country, ”he said.

“We can expect that in the next two years, we will see more activity from regulatory research companies to get their technologies approved for commercialization in the country,” he observed.

Benefits for farmers

Ramasami said farmers have really lost their competitive edge over the past 10 years. “This framework will allow our farmers to access better quality seed varieties and modern technologies in a smooth and continuous manner,” he said.

“He does not have to use illegal seeds made with unapproved technologies and faces consequences on quality, costs and environmental damage,” he said.

Could lead to monopolies

However, anti-GMO activists see it as a ploy to pave the way for the introduction of technologies such as herbicide-tolerant Bt in cotton and paddy.

“All these years they were fighting over access to technology and the value of traits. They joined in the search for an opportunity in herbicide tolerant technology in cotton and paddy. They can say it will help solve water and labor issues, ”said GV Ramanjaneyulu, director general of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Bt cotton critic Dhonti Narasimha Reddy said the frame could still leave out the players, who do not fall under the criteria outlined therein.

“Seed diversity will also be restricted by these combined forces. The framework should go to the Competition Commission of India. The pending cases cannot be withdrawn as this deal concerns the resolution of commercial disputes, while the petitions raise questions about the effectiveness of the technology, the seed patents and the legality behind collecting the value of the traits ” , he stressed.

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