"I am speaking as a farmers' representative and I will be with you to resist any legislation that goes against the interests of millions of farmers" - Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa
"Legislation like the Seed Bill will deprive [hundreds of thousands] of Indian farmers of their livelihood" - Dr Devinder Sharma
Yediyurappa supports agitation against Seed Bill
Calls for wider consultations on the implications of the Bill
The Hindu, March 9 2006 [front page] http://www.hindu.com/2006/03/09/stories/2006030923860100.htm
Bangalore: The protest against the Seed Bill, 2004 of the Union Government gathered momentum with Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Wednesday announcing his support for a non-political movement against restrictions on the use of seeds patented by multinational companies.
"I am speaking as a farmers' representative and I will be with you to resist any legislation that goes against the interests of millions of farmers, including those in Karnataka," he told a State-level convention organised by Janapara Vedike, Karnataka, here.
If the right to patent and sell seeds is confined to market forces, which is an euphemism for MNCs, Indian farmers stand to lose out on their traditional occupation. Wider consultation is necessary on the implications of the Seed Bill before it is ratified by the Rajya Sabha before being enacted as law, Mr. Yediyurappa said.
Agriculture scientist and activist Devinder Sharma said many of the genes of rice varieties are already the intellectual property of a Switzerland-based MNC, which may not share it in future with Indian farmers. Seeds of other traditional crops are at risk of passing into foreign hands, he said.
"The Seed Bill aims at bringing to India the American model of agriculture, which is technology-based, while ours is people-oriented. There are only seven lakh farmers left in the U.S., and over a decade ago, two lakh farmers sold their land and took up other occupations. Legislation like the Seed Bill will deprive lakhs of Indian farmers of their livelihood and they may be forced to migrate to urban centres for jobs... there may be a tremendous demographic change within the next 10 years," Mr. Sharma said.
Water will be another commodity over which the market forces are beginning to assert their rights, and bottled water is already costlier than milk, he pointed out. The far-reaching implications of the Seed Bill have not been made known to elected representatives at the village level and no free debate has taken place till now, he charged.
Any legislation without the consent of those affected by it goes against the basic of democracy.
The Union Government's budget spoke volumes about investments from overseas and the rising Sensex, but little about any changes proposed in its agricultural policy, which will affect a larger section of the people.
[picture caption - DISCUSSING FARMERS' PROBLEMS: Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa having a word with Devinder Sharma of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security, New Delhi (left), and M.K. Bhat, Director, Development Support Initiative, at the State-level convention on `Seed Bill, 2004, and Water Policy' in Bangalore on Wednesday. Photo: K Gopinathan]
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