Punjab rejects 'suicide seeds' but invites company for R&D

Years after showing door to top multinational seed companies that use wide range of techniques for genetic sterilisation of plants and animals, had come up with a new crop of genetically-engineered seeds called 'suicide seeds' after "terminator gene", the frontline agriculture state of Punjab has invited seed major Monsanto to set up a research and development Centre in the state.

Significantly, seed multinationals like Novarits, AstraZeneca, Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Rhone Poulenc and Du Pont have perfected technologies that were an improvement over "terminator". Agriculture states like Punjab and Haryana had criticised their attempts on the ground that these companies had introduced genetic traits that can turn on and off the reproductive capability of the plant with the help of an external chemical "inducer" mixed with the company's patented agro-chemicals. Such technologies would force the farmers to buy the seed afresh from the companies every year. In other words, "suicide seeds" would ensure profit security for the seed companies.

In a surprise development today, the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has asked the US-based Monsanto hybrid seed company to establish its research Centre to undertake extensive R&D for the production of high yielding hybrid seeds of the maize in the state.

A high level delegation of the company led by Vice President, Global Vegetables and Asia Commercial, Ms Consuelo E Madere had recently called on the Chief Minister here at his official residence. Sources told that Monsanto's Director Branded Business and Corporate Affairs Gyanendra Shukla and Director Corporate Affairs Rajneesh Kumar were also present.

During the deliberations, the Monsanto's CEO India Region D Narain apprised the Chief Minister that the company had developed heat tolerant hybrid maize varieties for the northern region especially Punjab adding that the company had focused to develop maize varieties for the kharif season in order to provide a viable alternative to paddy in the state. He also assured Badal that company would also make all out efforts to develop high yielding soya bean seeds in its endeavour to boost diversification of agriculture in the state.

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