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Cabinet nod for amendments to Seeds Bill

Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved additional amendments to the Seeds Bill. 2004.

The amendments however did not include the clause on price regulation of seeds that is being demanded by members of Parliament who have moved amendments to the Bill that may be introduced in this session. They wanted a regulatory mechanism on pricing of seeds so that seeds were available to farmers at affordable price and not left to “market forces.” This proposed amendment has not been accepted by the government.

On the demand of the MPs and civil society groups, the government has approved an amendment to raise the maximum penalty for “misrepresentation/ or suppression of facts, procedural violation or non-performance of the seeds “without intention” to one year and Rs. 5 lakh. There was a provision for cancellation of registration as well, official sources told The Hindu.

The additional amendments also provide for nomination on the proposed National Seed Committee of the chairpersons of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority and the National Bio-diversity Authority.

Another amendment okayed relates to submission of seed certification copy and periodic returns to the State government.

The amended Seeds Bill, 2010, seeks to regulate the quality of seeds and planting material, to curb the sale of spurious and poor quality seeds, increase private participation in seed production and distribution and liberalise import of seeds and planting materials.

The Bill that seeks to repeal and replace the existing Seeds Act, 1966, also has a provision that no transgenic variety of seed would be registered unless cleared under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Such seeds would have to be labelled and conform to specific standards.

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