Warring seed firms to set up self-regulatory mechanisms to simplify the licencing system.
Domestic seed producers with strong production and distribution networks and international seed companies with strong research and development teams have decided to set up a common self-regulatory platform to make it easier to introduce new seed technologies and set up a simple licencing system. This will put an end to years of lawsuits and constant fights.
Both sides will write down clear steps and small details to get rid of confusion and potential flashpoints. The business world thinks that the framework will be used soon and that at least one test case will be handled in the first year.
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‘The two most thorny issues between the groups are how to get licences and how to get royalties. We looked at them from a scientific point of view. We hope this will end the mistrust and make things clear,’ said a top executive in the seed business.
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Representatives from the National Seed Association of India (NSAI) and the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) have met several times to come to an agreement and make the draught framework. A common framework is a big hope for the NSAI, which mostly represents the domestic seed industry.
‘It will make sure that all breeders have equal and fair access to traits. M. Prabhakara Rao, President of the NSAI and Managing Director of Nuziveedu Seeds, told that the framework would pave the way for better variety development and lead to higher farm productivity and incomes.’
The problem between the two sides has been the strict rules that the technology provider has to follow in order to give a seed producer a technology licence.
M. Ramasami, who started Raasi Seeds and is president of the FSII, said that the new mechanism would help clear up questions about technology providers. ‘From the government’s point of view, they are worried (about the happenings in the seed industry). It’s also been talked about. ‘We have come to a good agreement about trait fee,’ he said.
The Director-General of FSII, Ram Kaundinya, said that a draught of the framework is ready and will be put in place very soon.
He said that no new genetically modified traits had been added since 2006. He also said that cotton badly needed new technology to deal with problems like the pink bollworm. ‘This framework would address broad licencing issues based on certain criteria to make sure good technical capability and stewardship,’ he said.
It would come up with a range of trait fees that farmers could afford so that the final price wouldn’t be too high. ‘It will have a telescopic trait fee rate so that after five years, the fee will go down gradually,’ he said.
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Another important part of the framework is that the trait value would be paid as long as the trait delivers the value that was promised. This will be the case until the telescopic rate makes it equal to zero.
A separate group will help put the proposed self-regulatory mechanism into place and handle complaints from stakeholders. ‘Everyone who has an interest will have a voice in the independent body,’ he said.