ICAR Denies Report On Syngenta Pullout

New Delhi, December 21: | Updated: Dec 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) director-general Panjab Singh said there was no question of multi-national seed company Syngenta Corporation pulling out of any collaborative project with the Raipur-based Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyala (IGKV) because no such memorandum of understandings (MoUs) were signed so far.

Dr Singh said, Negotiations with the European Union is in the process for Indias membership to UPOV. However, India has made it clear that it would not withdraw the rights given to farmers for saving seeds for cultivation as a precondition for joining UPOV.

Addressing the media persons last week on the eve of the Virat Krishi Mela Mr Singh clarified that IGKV had no intention of handing over the treasured 19,095 strains of local rice germsplasm to Syngenta as alleged by a section of the media.

No MoU has yet been signed with Syngenta, Mr Singh said, adding, the IGKV had only some preliminary discussions with Syngenta on possible collaboration for developing high-yielding varieties of rice. Hence, it was not correct to say Syngenta had pulled out of any collaborative project.

According to Mr Singh, India was bound by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources and UN Convention on Biodiversity and, therefore, has a responsibility to preserve and conserve the treasured resources. Syngenta should also know the pre-conditions of such international treaties, he added.

The Chattisgarh State Biodiversity Board and the National Biodiversity Board are the owners of these treasured resources and not IGKV. Dr Singh also said the national plant gene bank has an unique collection of 1 million accessions and are preserved at a temperature below 196 degree centigrade. He, however, said, We should be very careful in dealing with MNC collaborations concerning the utilisation of germplasm and make necessary homework before striking any such deal.

Dr Singh further said that India exchanges about one lakh germplasm with other countries very year. It imports over 90,000 germplasm and exports 1,000 germplasm.

Dr Singh said, The ICAR will submit its report on field trials on Bt cotton in north India by March 2003. More field trials should be conducted before giving final clearance for commercial cultivation of GM mustard seeds, he added.