ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

11 July 2002


Item 1 - news of a new India-based e-mailing list reflecting concern over genetic engineering.

Item 2 is from the already authoritative AgBioIndia Mailing List which now has over a thousand subscribers. Congratulations to the Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security on this impressive initiative.

Subscription details for both lists included.

1. 'No to transgenics' e-mailing list launched
2. AgBioIndia - Civil society trashes India's to join UPOV


1. 'No to transgenics' e-mailing list launched

The pro-environment and pro-nature pressure groups in India namely: ECO-India and Natural Farming Network have jointly launched an e-mailing list for the purpose of highlighting the adverse impact of GMOs and related policies of agriculture and health worldwide .

We would solicit, an in depth reporting about news, views and  discussions on the topics which open up new possibiolities  of eco-friendly and GMO free agriculture and pro-nature life style and policy regime. Professional and informal contributions on medical and other health professionals are also welcome.

Scientific contributions will be given a shape of electronic newletter cum journal after proper peer review.

E-mailing list will cover the following topics:

1. genetically modified organisms
2. organic farming

To subscribe to this emailing list
please send an email to:
and follow the instrucions.

Sudhir Kumar Kaura
Natural Farming Network
(we deal in life)
ECO-India, 10-C Friends Colony, Hisar-125 001, India
Telephone: 91-16 62-291 63
E-mail: /
Web site:

ECO-India is a voluntary & non-profit organisation working in the field  of environment protection and natural.


2. AgBioIndia Mailing List

11 July 2002

Subject: Civil society trashes India's to join UPOV


A coalition of civil society organisations led by Gene Campaign have demanded a discussion in Parliament on the status of the Farmers Rights law of India and the recent efforts to scrap it in favour of industry breeders by joining UPOV.

India gave itself a strong and proactive Farmers' Rights law last year. This Farmers Rights law of 2001 is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been praised by all developing countries and many developed countries too since it is the only law in the world which has granted such strong protection to its farmers, at a time when the forces of globalisation are threatening agricultural communities across the world.

Dr. Sahai said one thing needs to be understood clearly that if India joins UPOV, it cannot retain the Farmers Rights which it currently has.

NGOs and farmers' organisations who attended the civil society discussions organised by Gene Campaign on July 10, demanded to know why the Agriculture Ministry has recommended to the government that instead of the strong Farmers Rights law that India already has, we should make efforts to join the international platform called Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV). UPOV is a developed country platform, which has no mention of farmers' rights. It is a platform for granting and protecting the rights of Breeders, which today means corporate breeders like Monsanto.

On being questioned by Gene Campaign, on the UPOV- Farmers' Rights conflict, officials of the Agriculture Ministry made the claim that there was no conflict since India's Farmers Rights were compatible with UPOV provisions. Dr. Sahai said the lies of the Agriculture Ministry have been nailed by expert opinions and by UPOV itself which has stated: "The subject of farmers' rights is mainly the business of the FAO and its Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources. The expression 'farmers' rights' appears also in Agenda 21, but not in the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is up to the institutions that are concerned with farmers' rights to explain what farmers' rights mean and what rights should be given to what farmers. It is not UPOV's business."

Dr. Mike Adcock, an IPR expert from Sheffield University, UK , has commented that "Most observers, as well as Indian government officials, expect UPOV to recommend changes to the law if India wants to push through with joining the Union. It seems likely that the main area of contention will be the issue of farmers' rights."

Dr. Adcock goes on to add that "Article 37(3) of the UPOV 1991 Convention clearly states that after December 31, 1995 all countries who wish to join UPOV must accede to the 1991 Convention. Yet India has been allowed to join the 1978 Convention. The obvious benefit to UPOV in bending their own regulations is that in encouraging India, a large developing country with major public and private plant breeding sectors, to join, other Asian countries will follow suit rather than try and introduce their own sui generis legislation".

Dr. Suman Sahai said that other international reactions to India's efforts to join UPOV are already coming in. The International Federation of Seed Industries has said it will not agree to the Farmers Rights provisions if India wants to join UPOV. The attorneys of large seed corporations who have started reacting to India's application to UPOV, have pointed out that the Indian Farmers Rights will not be accepted by UPOV members and will have to be changed substantially if India wants to become a member.

Dr. Bala Ravi, former Asst. Director General of ICAR and chief of the IPR department, has pointed out 25 points of conflict between the Indian Act and UPOV and said that the two cannot co-exist. He has also said the reasons given by the government for joining UPOV are bogus... "The accession to UPOV is a green flag and red carpet welcome to the MNCs to enter the Indian seed sector in accordance with the pro-breeder UPOV rather than the more restrictive Indian Act."

Blowing the myth that UPOV will facilitate Breeders Rights for Indian varieties, as claimed by the Agriculture Ministry, Dr. Bala Ravi added that " Indian varieties like sugarcane, wheat, spices, etc. are in demand in S-E Asian and some African countries, which are not UPOV members. Our varieties are not used in UPOV member states like the US or EU, so joining UPOV is irrelevant from that angle."

Gene Campaign, which has been in the forefront of civil society efforts to get a strong Farmers' Rights in law, has demanded an enquiry into the actions of the Agriculture Ministry. The country should be told who are the people in the government who are sabotaging the rights granted to India's farmers. Which elements are defying the directions given by Parliament when it enacted the Farmers Rights law? Which agencies stand to benefit from removing the rights given to farmers?

Dr. Suman Sahai
Web -

The AgBioIndia mailing list is an effort by the Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security to bridge the yawning gap in our understanding of the politics of food. We believe this mailing list will create wider awareness and understanding of the compexities of the crisis facing Indian agriculture and food security. This list will keep you posted on the intricacies and games being enacted in the name of eradicating hunger.

It is a non-commercial educational service for non-profit organisations and individuals. Subscribers are welcome to contribute information.

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