Objection to India attempting to align itself to UPOV – letter from civil society and scientists

10:29 am in News by Kavitha

To:
  1. Shri Radhamohan Singh

Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture &

Farmers’ Welfare,

Government of India,

Krishi Bhawan, Dr Rajendra Prasad Rd,

New Delhi, 110 001

Fax: 011 23384129

E-mail (of PS): abhaykr.singh@gov.in

 

  1. Dr Kumble Vinod Prabhu

Chairperson

Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority
Government of India,

Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare,
Department of Agriculture, Co-operation & Farmers Welfare,
NASC Complex, DPS Marg, Opposite Todapur Village,
New Delhi – 110 012
Fax: 011 25840478
E-mail: chairperson-ppvfra@nic.in

 

9th May 2019

Why is the PPV&FR Authority pushing India towards UPOV?

Dear Shri Radhamohan Singh and Dr K V Prabhu,

The ongoing controversy of the subsidiary of a US multinational corporation – PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd, suing (at least) nine potato farmers of Gujarat for IPR infringement in the attempt to assert its plant breeders’ rights has put the limelight on India’s Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001. The silence of the PPV&FR Authority during the controversy has also illustrated adequately the inaction of the Authority to step up to uphold farmers’ rights, which are clearly and unambiguously enshrined in the law.

Now, we have discovered another new development that is of great concern to us. This is with reference to Agenda Item 17 of the 30th Meeting of the PPV&FR Authority held at the NASC Complex, Delhi on 13 November 2018. These Minutes were made open on the Authority’s web site only recently.

The Minutes say, “Members were informed that the period of protection HAS TO BE MADE ON PAR WITH THE PERIOD OF PROTECTION UNDER UPOV (our emphasis) in alignment of international law on the subject.” The Minutes do not note what the international law being referred to is, and why this alignment HAS to be made.

We note with deep concern the idea to align PPV&FR Act, 2001, with the international law on the subject, implying compliance with the International Union for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV).

We emphasise that India is NOT a member of UPOV and is under no legal obligation to be compliant with UPOV.

This very fact and policy option gives us the space to have a farmers’ rights chapter and the seed freedoms for farmers, as rights, as against just mere exemptions or none at all as in UPOV-member countries. The total prescribed time period of plant variety protection under our law – 15 years for crops; and 18 years in case of trees and vines, is in itself long enough and any further extension to 20 and 25 respectively, will also interfere with the farmers’ freedoms and researchers’ privileges that are guaranteed in the law. The Authority is legally bound to maintain the balance between rights of farmers versus breeders.

In any case, since any change would require due amendment of the relevant Section 24(6) of the Act, the changes cannot simply be effected by an Authority decision, and any move to amend the law along these lines is not acceptable. India should not become a Member of the UPOV regime or align itself in this manner.

Since the Members of the PPV&FR Authority deferred the Agenda and it was asked to be “put up during next meeting with some more input”, may we request your office to kindly make the minutes of the 31st Meeting of the Authority publicly available, so that all are aware of the discussions and subsequent decisions taken on the topic, if any.

We strongly oppose any move to bring the PPV&FR Act in line with the UPOV Convention, when our legislators intended that the law be a unique one keeping in mind Indian farm realities and the need for protection of farmers’ rights. This is a critical matter of millions of livelihoods. Any move towards UPOV signifies succumbing to corporate pressure, and will be resisted strongly by farmers’ organisations and civil society in India.

Sincerely,

Sd/-

CC: Registrar, Farmers’ Rights, Dr R C Agrawal rg-ppvfra@nic.in

 

SIGN-ONS:

 

  1. Adv. Sivakumar, Nalla Sandhai, Tamil Nadu
  2. Ajay K Jha, PAIRVI
  3. Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, BKU Punjab
  4. AK Devison, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association & South India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement
  5. Ananthoo, Safe Food Alliance, Chennai
  6. Anirudh Vashisht, Safe food activist, Sunam
  7. Anshul Bhamra, Senior Manager, Development Alternatives, Delhi
  8. Aruna Rathnam, Ph.D., Chennai
  9. Aruna Rodrigues, Sunray Harvesters, Madhya Pradesh
  10. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM, Uttar Pradesh
  11. Arup Rakshit and Rubi Rakshit, Mahatma Gandhi Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan, Kolkata
  12. Badagalapura Nagendra, President, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka
  13. Balaji Shankar, Tharchaarbu Iyakkam, Tamil Nadu
  14. Chamarasa Mali Patil, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka
  15. Chukki Nanjundaswamy, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka and Amrithabhoomi
  16. CK Janu, Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, Kerala
  17. Debjeet Sarangi, Living Farms, Bhubaneswar
  18. Deepak Sharma, Director, Equality Empowerment Foundation, Rajasthan
  19. Dhan Singh Sherawat, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Maharashtra
  20. Dharmendra Kumar, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU)
  21. Dr Amita Shah, GIDR, Ahmedabad
  22. Dr Channesh T.S, Centre for Public Understanding of Science, Bengaluru
  23. Dr D K Sadana, Indigenous Livestock Society – India, Karnal, Haryana
  24. Dr Debal Deb, Basudha, Odisha
  25. Dr K B Wanjari, Retd Pulses Scientist PDKV Akola, Nagpur
  26. Dr Mira Shiva Coordinator, Initiative for Health & Equity in Society
  27. Dr Nandita Shah, Sharan Auroville
  28. Dr Ponnammal Natarajan, Retd Dean, Anna University
  29. Dr Rajeswari S. Raina, Professor, Shiv Nadar University, Uttar Pradesh
  30. Dr Suhas Kolhekar, Convener, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Pune
  31. Dr Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign, Uttarakhand
  32. Dr Sundaramurthy VT, Former Project Coordinator & Head, CICR, Coimbatore
  33. Dr V Rukmini Rao, Executive Director, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad, Telangana
  34. Dr Sharad Pawar, FNAAS, FNASc, Ex-Scientist, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai
  35. Dr Vandana Shiva, RFSTE and Navdanya, New Delhi
  36. Engals Raja, Nammalvar Ecological research and training centre, Surumanpatti, Karur district
  37. G Sundarrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Chennai
  38. Gautam Singh, Organic Farmer, SAS Nagar, Punjab
  39. Gopi Deva, OFM, Chennai
  40. Gurmukh Singh, Kudrat Hut, Batala, Punjab
  41. Gursher Singh & Ranjodh Singh, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Amritsar
  42. Gurvinder Sharma, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Faridkot
  43. Hannan Mollah, General Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha
  44. Hari Kant Gupta & Rituja Mitra, Students from Azim Premji University, Bangalore
  45. Harinath Rao Nagulavancha, Farmer & Contributor to People’s Archive of Rural India, Nalgonda, Telangana
  46. Hem Khosla, Organic Matters, Jalandhar
  47. Himakiran, Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation, Tamil Nadu
  48. Jagannathan, Nalla Keerai, Thiuvellore
  49. Jagdish Singh, BKU, Madhya Pradesh
  50. Jagpreet Singh, BioAppetito, Chandigarh
  51. Jayesh Joshi, VAAGDHARA, Banswara, Rajasthan
  52. K Gunathilagaraj, Coimbatore
  53. K Jagadeesan, Advisor, Federation of Tamil Nadu Rice Mill Owners Association
  54. K Sella Mutthu,President, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu
  55. KM Rajegowda, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka
  56. KT Gangadhar, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka
  57. Kamaljit Singh Hayer, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Muktsar
  58. Kannaiyan Subramaniam, South India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
  59. Kapil Shah, Founding Trustee and Director, Jatan Trust, Vadodara
  60. Karpagam, organic farmer, Maduranthagam, Tamil Nadu
  61. Kavitha K Pandian, Our Village Our Responsibility, Tamilnadu
  62. Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture
  63. Kiran Vissa, Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Hyderabad
  64. Kumar, Managing Trustee, Kadavur, Karur district
  65. Kunal Deb, Uthnau
  66. KV Rajkumar, South Indian Sugarcane Growers Association
  67. Lawyers Collective
  68. MS Selvaraj, VTMS, Tamil Nadu
  69. Mangaraj Panda, United Artists’ Association, Ganjam, Odisha
  70. Mona Mishra, concerned citizen, New Delhi
  71. Nachiket Udupa, concerned citizen, Delhi
  72. Nallagounder, Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi & Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
  73. Pamayan, Thaalanmai Uzhavar Iyakam
  74. Pankaj Jain, Safe Food activist, Jalandhar
  75. Pankaj Pathak, Safe food activist, Indorra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
  76. Prafulla Samantara, NAPM, Odisha
  77. Priyanka Gupta, safe food activist, Ludhiana
  78. Prof Om Damani, IIT Bombay, Mumbai
  79. Pushpa Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Miranda House, University of Delhi
  80. R Padmini, Member of Alliance for Right to ECCD, Bengaluru
  81. R Ponnambalam, Managing Trustee, CREATE, Tamilnadu
  82. R R Srinivasan, Poovulagin Nanbargal
  83. R Selvam, State Coordinator, Tamilnadu organic farmers federation, Erode
  84. Radha Holla Bhar, Member RTFC/JSA, Delhi
  85. Radhika Rammohan, Restore, Chennai
  86. Rahul Saxena, safe food activist, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh
  87. Rahul Sharma, Safe food activist, Chandigarh
  88. Rajariga, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
  89. Rajbeer Singh Jadaun, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Uttar Pradesh
  90. Rajeev Kohli, Swadeshi Haat Gurdaspur, Gurdaspur, Punjab
  91. Rajinder Chaudhary, Former Professor, Department of Economics, M. D. University & Advisor, Kudarti Kheti Abhiyan, Haryana
  92. Rajiv Gupta & Rakesh Kharbanda, Kudrat Hut, Ludhiana
  93. Rajkumar Bharadwaj, concerned citizen, Delhi
  94. Rakesh Tikait, National Spokesman, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)
  95. Ramasubramanian, Samanvaya Consulting, Chennai
  96. Raspinder Singh, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Ludhiana
  97. Ratan Singh Mann, BKU, Haryana
  98. Ravideep Singh, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Barnala
  99. Rebekah Daniel, Talekar and Associates, Aurangabad
  100. Rita Dixit Kubiak, Big Medicine Charitable Trust, Udaipur Rajasthan
  101. Rosamma Thomas, Journalist, Pune
  102. S Ashalatha, Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Hyderabad
  103. S Usha, Director, Thanal, Kerala
  104. S Venkatesan, South Indian Sugarcane Growers Association
  105. Sagar Rabari, President, Khedut Ekta Manch, Ahmedabad
  106. Sandeep Pandey, People’s Politics Front (Lok Rajniti Manch), Lucknow
  107. Sangeetha Sriram, AEVS, Auroville
  108. Sanjeev Sharma, Swadeshi Haat Jalandhar, Jalandhar
  109. Satnam Singh Cheema, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Uttrakhand
  110. Shalini Bhutani, Legal Researcher & Policy Analyst
  111. Sharad Paliwal, Member, Beejotsav Group, Nagpur
  112. Shuba Bharadwaj, Mahatmaji seva sangam
  113. Soumik Banerjee, Godda, Jharkhand
  114. Sreeharsha Thanneeru, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad
  115. Sridhar R, Coordinator, Save our Rice Campaign-India
  116. Subhash Chaudhary, BKU, NCR
  117. Sudha Nagavarapu, Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (SKMS), Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh
  118. Sudeshna Sengupta, Independent Consultant and Researcher, Gurgaon
  119. Suhas Borker, Convener, Working Group on Alternative Strategies, New Delhi
  120. Sujit Patwardhan, Parisar, Pune
  121. Sukhdev Singh Gill, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Himachal Pradesh
  122. Sukhwinder Pappi, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Sangrur
  123. Suma Josson, Film Maker, Pune
  124. Sumi Krishna, Bengaluru
  125. Sunayana, Lipika & Shipra, Kudrati Kisan Haat, Jalandhar
  126. Swaran Viswanatan, Research Scholar, CTARA, IIT Bombay
  127. Uma Shankari, Rashtriya Raithu Seva Samithi, Chittoor district, AP
  128. Umendra Dutt, Executive Director, Kheti Virasat Mission
  129. Vasant Futane, SANWAD, Amravati, Maharashtra
  130. Vidyadhar Olkha,State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Rajasthan
  131. Vijay Jawandhia, Shetkari Sanghatana & All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
  132. Vijender Singh, BKU, Haryana
  133. Vipul Kamboj, Amrytam Aahar, Sirsa, Haryana
  134. Virendra Dagar, BKU, Delhi
  135. Yudhvir Singh, National Secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Union & All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements