More biopiracy in India (3/9/2006)

Jatropha Bio-Piracy

Appeal from Chhattisgarh Jaiv Suraksha Manch

Chhattisgarh has again been attacked by a multinational company. You must be remembering two years back Syngenta a Swiss MNC tried to snatch the germplasm of twenty thousand rice varieties of Chhattisgarh.

These were the varieties collected by Dr.R H Richharia during his work at MP Rice Research Institute. Those varieties are kept with Indira Gandhi Agriculture University, Raipur. Luckily the information leaked out before finalization of the deal.

The people of Chhattisgarh resisted strongly against the back door entry of the MNC and expressed their mandate in favor of community rights on all the bio-resources and related knowledge of the Chhattisgarh. The university and state government should have taken lesson, but it is evident that neither of them took the feelings of People of Chhattisgarh seriously.

This time germplasm of 18 local varieties of Jatropha have been stolen. These varieties are considered to have high oil content and disease and drought resistance qualities. High quality Pendra variety has also been stolen. (Many variants of Jatropha are wildly found in some forests of Chhattisgarh. The variety found in Pendra area of Chhattisgarh is considered to be of high quality.) A multinational company known as D-one has received the germplasm and said to have cultivated it in a form house near Raipur taken on lease by the MNC.

One interesting thing is that in both the cases of bio-piracy (The Syngenta and the D-One) the medium for the robbery has been IGKVV. The IGKVV has failed to protect the bio-resources of Chhattisgarh to which it is presumed to be custodian.

According to news paper report (Dainik Bhaskar, 17th Jan.06) the university had appointed an investigation team to find out the details of the case. The team led by Dr.ARRS Shastri found Dr. Sunil Puri of IGKVV guilty and the university charge sheeted Dr.Puri for the same. Meanwhile Dr.Puri has joined the same MNC establishment in Coimbatore. Surprisingly the university administration tried its best to hide the issue from the eyes of the public. The university’s attitude was of a criminal negligence. Such negligence to the public property by a public sector institution is very serious.

The issue has again opened the issue of concern of the people of Chhattigarh about the security of their bio-resources kept in the custody of the IGKVV and other centralized structures. The university has been hiding the information on seeds of Chhattisgarh from public in the name of official secrecy but it is leaking the information and the germplasm to MNCs time and again. Apart from breach of trust to the nation this is also violation of the rights of the people of Chhattisgarh. We fear that the greatest threat to the bio-resources of Chhattisgarh is from the IGKVV and such other structures which have centralized control on the bio-resources. We would like to remind the concept of decentralized research, extension and germplasm accessions given by Dr.RH Richharia to tackle such act of both theft and subsequent negligence. The role of the university in stopping the information about the farmer's seed to come in public domain has always been under suspicion and can be easily related to such acts of bio-piracy. The university has kept Dr.Richharia's work "Encyclopedia of Rice" unpublished. The university is yet to answer these questions to the public.

The negligence of the serious issues at university and State government level can also be viewed in the matter that the report of the Bagai Committee commissioned to investigate the Syngenta deal, has yet not been made public after almost three years of the incidence.

We appeal all friends to protest against such criminal act and demand for an enquiry and action against the guilty persons and the MNCs.

We demand

*Criminal case be filed against the MNC and the scientist involved. *The Bagai committee report on Syngenta issue investigation be made public. *Dr. Richharia's work "Encyclopedia of Rice" be published and bring the information on bio-resources under control of the university in public domain.

Suresh Sahu
Rupantar, Raipur
Ph.0771 2263683,2424669
[email protected]


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