The legislation was passed by Parliament way back in 2001 and received Presidential assent in the same year, but was withheld from notification, which prevented its implementation over the past few years.
The Act, apart from protecting farm bio-diversity, allows farmers to save and exchange seeds in unbranded form for use in the next crop season. The Act has also banned registration of seeds containing terminator technology vide section 18 (1) (C).
The government has recently constituted Plant Varieties Protection and Farmers Rights Board under the chairmanship of Dr S Nagarajan for implementation of the Act.
Speaking to FE, executive chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS) Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary said: The PVP&FR Act was long withheld from its implementation due to pressure from the interested lobby of seed companies. This law gives some leverage to farmers in matters of use of seeds, though not complete freedom. There had been recent attempts to nullify this meagre freedom given to farmers under this Act by the introduction of amendments to the Seeds Act in the Parliament. The farmers will not tolerate any such move and demand immediate withdrawal of the proposed amendments to the Seeds Act. Rather PVP&FR Act should be further amended to give more freedom to farmers.
Dr Chaudhary had earlier expressed concern over Delta & Pine Land announcing its new plans to foray into the seed sector, after it got patent rights for its terminator technology in patent offices abroad. He now said that with the notification of PVP&FR Act, the country is better poised to deal with this situation.
Dr Chaudhary was the sole farmers representative to the recently held global conference on biotechnology hosted by Asia-Pacific Association of Agriculture Research Institutions (APAARI) and FAO in Bangkok where he demanded that the seed multinationals compensate farmers for failure of Bt cotton.