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The Great Seed Theft

The Great Seed Theft

By Dr. Vandana Shiva

Farmers are already vulnerable. These memoranda facilitate the bio-piracy of rich biodiversity and the theft of seeds.


The seed, the source of life, the embodiment of our biological and cultural diversity, the link between the past and the future of evolution, the common property of the past, present and future generations of the agricultural communities that have been the breeders of seeds, is today stolen from farmers and sold back to us as "proprietary seeds". Monsanto headquarters owned by United States corporations.

Under pressure from the Prime Minister's Office (of India?), Several state governments are signing memorandums of understanding with the privatization seed corporations of our rich and diverse genetic heritage. For example, the government of Rajasthan has signed seven MOUs with Monsanto, Advanta, DCM Shriram, Kanchan Jyoti Industrias Agro, PHI Semillas SA. Ltd, Krishidhan Seeds and JK Agri Genetics.

In the Memorandum of Understanding, the Rajasthan government with Monsanto, for example, focuses on corn, cotton and vegetables (chili, tomato, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower and watermelon). Monsanto controls the cottonseed market in India and the world. Monsanto also controls 97 percent of the world corn market and 63.5 percent of the market for genetically modified (GM) cotton. DuPont, in fact, had to initiate an antitrust investigation in the US due to the growth of Monsanto's seed monopoly.

Sixty Indian seed companies have made license agreements with Monsanto, which has the intellectual property in Bt cotton. In addition, Monsanto has cross-license agreements with BASF, Bayer, DuPont, Syngenta and Dow to share the patents. The giants of the seed corporations are not competing with each other. They are competing with peasants and farmers for control of the seed supply. And indeed, monopolies on seeds are being established through mergers and cross-licensing agreements.

Monsanto, which controls 95 percent of the cottonseed market, has pushed the price of seeds from 7 per kg to 3,600 per kg, with royalty payments almost halved. Rs 1 billion a year is extracted as rights from the Indian farmers of Andhra Pradesh, who sued the Monopoly and restrictive business practices.

The commodity seed is ecologically incomplete and is broken on two levels: First, it does not reproduce, while, by definition, the seed is a regenerative resource. Genetic resources therefore went, through technology, from being a renewable resource to a non-renewable resource. Second, it does not produce on its own, but needs the help of purchasing inputs. And, as the seed and chemical companies merge, dependence on inputs will increase.


The failure of the hybrid sunflower in Karnataka and the hybrid maize in Bihar has cost hundreds of poor farmers tens of millions of rupees. There are no liability clauses in MOUs to guarantee farmers' rights and protection from seed shortages.

The seeds that will be used for varieties essentially derived from corporations like Monsanto are originally farmers' varieties. The Law of Farmers' Rights and Plant Genetic Resources is a law to protect the rights of farmers, but nothing is recognized in the memorandums of understanding, on the protection and guarantee of the rights of farmers. Therefore, they are in violation of the Farmers' Rights law.

Memorandums of Understanding are biased and biased in favor of companies' intellectual property rights. Monsanto's memorandum of understanding states: "Monsanto's proprietary tools, techniques, technology, know-how and intellectual property rights with respect to crops will remain the property of Monsanto, despite use in any of the activities described in the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding ". So the issue here is not technology, but the monopoly of seeds.

What is called a public-private partnership (PPP) and is carried out under the supervision of the State is, in fact, the theft of seeds.

Rajasthan is an ecologically fragile area. Its farmers are already vulnerable. We must protect the seeds of life from the seeds of suicide.

Farmers breed for stamina and nutrition. Industrial seed responds to intensive chemical agents and water inputs so that seed companies can increase profits. The future of seed, the future of food, the future of farmers lies in the conservation of the biodiversity of our seeds. Research at Navdanya also shows that organic farming based on biodiversity produces more food than monocultures.

Hybrids and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) produce less nutrition per acre and are vulnerable to climate change, pests and diseases. The replacement of agricultural biological diversity with hybrid and transgenic crops is a recipe for food insecurity. The MOUs, in effect, facilitate the bio-piracy of Rajasthan's rich biodiversity of drought-resistant crops, which are increasingly valuable in times of climate change. As the memorandums of understanding do not have any clause regarding the Biodiversity Law and the Farmers' Rights Law, the legalization of biopiracy and the theft of seeds is promoted.

According to the MOUs, the distribution of private seed companies is based on "seed supply and share distribution agreements to take advantage of the extensive government-owned network." In other words, the sale of hybrids and GMOs will be subsidized for allowing the use of public land for "technology demonstration farms to display agricultural products, technology and practices on land donated by the Rajasthan government."

In addition to the delivery of seeds and land, "Monsanto supported the creation of infrastructures to meet the objectives of the collaboration through access to the capital grant and other relevant systems of the government of Rajasthan."

While public resources will be freely gifted to Monsanto as a grant, Monsanto's intellectual monopoly, intellectual property rights (IPR) will be protected. This is a memorandum of understanding for Monsanto.

It is clearly a memorandum of understanding for the privatization of our seeds, genetic wealth and our knowledge, and a violation of farmers' rights.

Seed sovereignty is the basis of food sovereignty. Seed freedom is the basis of food freedom. The theft of seeds great threat therefore must be stopped.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is the executive director of the Navdanya Foundation - The Great Seed Theft - Monday, May 2, 2011 - Published in The Asian Age, April 27, 2011 - (Translated with Google from the Navdanya Journal) - Published by Campaign in Defense of the Biodiversity and Food Sovereignty - http://semillasdeidentidad.blogspot.com


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