The All India Kisan Sabha, a frontal organisation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), on Friday asked the Centre and the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks to rein in multinational corporations and fix a cap on royalty on seeds.

The seed supply earlier taken care of by the ingenuity of Indian farmers as well as the public sector corporations and indigenous companies has “now slipped into the control of global players like Monsanto. The enormous payment as royalty has ensured that a continuous flow of profits accrue to these MNCs. Seeds are no longer in the public domain as they are now the ‘intellectual property’ of these MNCs,” AIKS president S. Ramachandran Pillai and general secretary K. Varadharajan said in a statement.

The AIKS said the withdrawal of State regulation has aided the creation of seed monopolies and the government polices were abetting the gradual annihilation of the public sector seed corporations.

The statement said six companies — Monsanto, Du Pont, Mitsui, Syngenta, Aventis and Dow — control 98 per cent of the world seed market. In India too the MNCs directly or indirectly control a major share of the seed market.

While the debate on GM crops remained and the European Union had recently sent GM crops back, Indian farmers continue to grow Bt cotton and MNCs had been carrying out field trials clandestinely in contravention of the law. The AIKS alleged that Monsanto had been charging high royalty per packet.

Regulatory authority

The AIKS leaders asked the government to set up an agri-biotech regulatory authority to ensure that the farmers were protected. In addition, the Agriculture Ministry should take adequate measures to promote participatory plant breeding through an interface between the farming and the scientific community with attractive incentives, provide remunerative prices for seeds developed through this mechanism and ensure certification to counter the seed monopolies and guarantee self-sufficiency.

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