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Will we have a seed police, ask farmers

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 2. To lodge their protest against the proposed Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005 and the Seeds Act, 2004, several organisations of farmers growing organic crops met the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, here today. Led by Navdanya — a Food/Seed Sovereignty Campaign — they pressed him not to go ahead with the two legislation which were "anti-farmer, anti-people and pro-MNCs."

The organisations, which have the support of all political parties, presented protest letters signed by over two million people engaged in the campaign. The letters urged the Prime Minister to ensure that no patents would be granted for indigenous seeds and plants and that bio-piracy be stopped.

The director of Navdanya, Vandana Shiva, told mediapersons here that the third-amended Patent Act introduces new legislation on TRIPS that are consistent with WTO rules, which means patents can easily be granted for seeds, plants, animals and genetically modified organisms. "Will corporate patent-holders instead of farmers control our agriculture from now on?" she asked.

"The Seed Act aims at replacing farmer saved seeds with those from the international [or national] seed industry and at denying farmers the right to use and exchange their seeds. Corporations such as Monsanto can now criminalise and sue farmers who are saving their own seeds. Will we soon have a "seed police" that patrols our villages, houses and fields?" asked the letters.

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