The National Seed Association of India (NSAI) has suggested some changes in the proposed Seed Bill 2019 on Wednesday, including a more scientific definition of transgenic variety, enhanced more farmer rights on seeds and enlisting the services of private firms for evaluating new varieties before seed registration.
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While writing a letter to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research – Director General (ICAR) Trilochan Mahapatra and others, NSAI said there is a serious gap in the definition of transgenic variety, which is ambiguous and also unscientific. This needs to be corrected, the organization said in a statement.
“This is a very critical bill, which affects all Indians. No decision should be made in haste, and hence we have sent additional comments for the government,” NSAI president Prabhakar Rao said.
According to NSAI, the Seed Act 1966, which was passed Indian government immediately after the advent of the Green Revolution, was inspired by the US system where the variety registration was left to the discretion of the developer. The new bill, on the contrary, is similar to what is followed in Europe where there are defined parameters and procedures for the release of new varieties.
Gap in legislation
Among those salient features that resemble the EU legislation is compulsory registration of seed varieties based on VCU (value for cultivation and use), evaluation and licensing of seed producers and processors. There are also provisions for price control in the event of an emergency, monopolization or profiteering, NSAI said.
Considering more than 100 crops, five geographical regions and hundreds of seed companies with R&D, the workload for nationwide evaluation is going to be 30 to 40 times greater than the existing workload. It is, therefore, essential to enlist the facilities available with seed companies for ensuring fast-track registration.