Well-known food and agricultural policy analyst Devender Sharma has strongly criticised the failure of developing countries, including India, in not raising the issue of control over the germplasm or seed banks, at the XI Conference of Parties (CoP), set up by the US by moving the progenetic resources of the developing countries there.

Even the countries from where the collections were taken to the two US-managed seed banks had no access to the germplasm resources, Mr. Sharma said speaking to The Hindu on Friday.

US stand

The US was denying access to the seed banks to other countries stating that it was not a signatory to the Convention on Biodiversity.

By not raising the issue of control and access over the progenetic resources, the developing and some developed countries had exhibited their subordination to the US imperialism and left the Nagoya protocol of access-benefit sharing meaningless, Mr. Sharma, who was also part of the now disbanded Team Anna against corruption, stated.

American design

The policy analyst alleged that it was this US design which was behind the emergence of 16 international agricultural research centres including the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), both collecting several traditional germplasm of different countries they were operating in.

Rice germplasm

Accordingly, the rice germplasm from India had reached the US seed banks via IRRI. The list of such local varieties and countries who had unknowingly handed over their heritage to the US was very long, he said.

Cleverly, the US had moved the germplasm collections to its seed banks in the name of protecting them from possible terror attacks in future.

India was a mega biodiversity zone having 51,000 plant species including 7,000 endemic (originated locally) species and 94,000 animal species comprising 5,000 endemic varieties.


“Having only five plant and three animal endemic species, the US would never succeed in becoming a super power. That’s the reason why it has conspired to move the germplasms available in all developing countries”, Mr. Sharma alleged.

The influence of multinational companies and trade bodies on governments in developing countries was such that the traditional knowledge rule framed by a working group were kept on the Ministry of Environment website for three years but were removed with the pressure from FICCI just before the commencement of CoP here, he noted.