The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
Indo-US Agreement on Agriculture: Helping US Multinationals?
Amongst the many agreements being signed during the Bush visit, two agreements have a vital bearing on more than 60% of Indian population, namely the “Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agricultural Research and Education” and a Biotechnology Agreement. This is a follow-up of the understanding reached during Manmohan Singh’s US visit and subsequently, the Indo-US Umbrella Agreement signed in October last year. Under the agricultural initiative, Monsanto and Wal Mart are set to decide the Indian agriculture research agenda, as they are on the governing board of this initiative.
The Indian Government has referred to the green revolution and the role that the US land grant universities played in it as a prelude to signing these agreements. Unlike the science of green revolution that came from public domain science, today’s biotechnology revolution depends almost entirely on private domain science. Therefore, an agreement that ties India’s research institutions to Monsanto and other US MNCs means ensuring their dominance over India’s agriculture. The private sector will identify the research areas with the aim of rapid commercialisation.
The Government of India has also kept the entire country in the dark on the terms of this agreement. According to reports, India seems prepared to accept Intellectual Property Rights terms that the Parliament had rejected last year. It is well known that the US in its science and technology agreements with third world countries pushes for IPRs flowing out of such agreements to accrue to the country with more stringent IPR rights. By this, all worldwide rights coming out of this initiative would belong to the US as their IPR regime offers patent holders rights to life forms, plants and seeds. There is also a threat to India and local communities losing the rights to indigenous genetic resources.
The country has not been told what are the terms of the umbrella agreement signed in October last year. The parliament and the people must be told about these issues before any grandiose agricultural knowledge initiative is signed between the US and India.