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.

"Assuring all possible assistance to the Monsanto", the Chief Minister directed the Vice Chancellor (VC) Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to provide technical data and logistic support to enable them to produce quality hybrid seeds best suited to the climatic conditions of the state.

Badal also constituted a high level committee headed by the Chairman of Punjab Farmers Commission Dr GS Kalkat with Financial Commissioner Development (FCD) GS Sandhu, Advisor to Agriculture Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu and Director Agriculture Dr Mangal Singh Sandhu as members to work out the modalities for developing high yielding varieties and maize seed in tandem with the Monsanto Company besides in aiding them to set up research cum seed testing centre at the earliest.

The Committee has also been mandated to suggest self sustaining marketing mechanism to ensure hassle free marketing of Maize to the farmers. The Chief Minister also asked the visiting Monsanto team to also provide high yielding varieties of Soya bean seed to give a fillip to the much needed thrust for crop diversification. The volte-face by the Punjab Government could be understood as top officials including Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister SK Sandhu, Special Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Gaggandip Singh Brar, Chairman of Punjab Farmers Commission Dr GS Kalkat, FCD GS Sandhu, Advisor Agriculture Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu and Director Agriculture Dr Mangal Singh Sandhu were in attendance.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.