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Parliamentary debate on Indo-US agricultural deal demanded

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 23 (UNI) Civil liberty groups today demanded a Parliamentary debate on the India-US agricultural deal which they said would place the control of agriculture with the US through the import of genetically modified seed technology from them.

Ms Suman Sahai, President of Gene Campaign, a pressure group acting against the import of genetically modified technology, said the agreement has been drafted without consulting the states though agriculture was a state subject. Neither the farmers nor the civil liberty groups working on the subject had been consulted.

Mr Yudhvir Singh of the Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements said the deal was "anti-farmer" and will not be accepted by the farmers. A resolution to this effect has been passed at a Kisan (farmers) rally organised on March 21.

Dr Suneelam of M P Kisan Sangharsh Samiti expressed concern that agro-based companies like Walmart and Monsanto, trying to promote genetically modified seeds, were on the board of the Indo-US deal and the most important focus was on developing genetically engineered crops, animal and fish.

Ms Sahai, who has demanded that the agreement be made public, said that it completely violated the international biosafety protocol (The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to regulate transboundary movements of genetically engineered (GE) organisms) to which India was a signatory.

"Though India signed the biosafety protocol, we have not yet implemented it," she added.

"The Government is paying in agriculture for the gains it was seeking in the nuclear sector. The second green revolution that was announced was, in fact. opening up India to genetically engineered crops and food which the US promotes aggressively and which is rejected in most parts of the world," she added.

Accusing the government of working against the interest of farmers to gain favour with the Americans, Mr Singh said that wheat import issue was another clear example of government favouring the Americans. "The chief beneficiaries as exporters of wheat to India will be huge American corporations like Cargill and Dow. We have enough wheat and there is no necessity of importing any," he added.

Ms Sahai expressed apprehension that under the guise of collaborative technology, multinationals like Monsanto would be able to use the Krishi Vigyan Kendras which serve as extension agencies for the farmers in many parts of India.

"Walmart and Monsanto have said that they are keen to use their position in the board to enter the into retailing agriculture and agriculture trade," she warned.

UNI ARB NK KN1745

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