NSAI asks Centre to watch out for Chinese ‘seed terrorism’
Says China’s advanced biotechnology could pose a threat to Indian food security
The National Seed Association of India (NSAI) wants the Centre to put its agencies on high alert against Chinese seeds penetrating into Indian fields. It has asked the government to have in place adequate plans to deal with the ‘seed terrorism’.
While the NSAI has not found any Chinese seeds in the Indian market to date, it has issued an alert on the basis of an International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) warning on the entry of suspicious seeds in the Indian market.
Indian biodiversity is fragile and could be overturned with seed contamination, said the association. “Chinese and other international companies have detailed studies of the germplasm and genetic resources in India. In fact, China is studying Indian germplasm and seeds for the last 20-25 years and taking a hybrid parent line back to China. Indian germplasm is being exported without any hindrance,” Indra Shekhar Singh, Director-Policy and Outreach, NSAI, told
He added that Indian companies cannot set up a seed company in China and but Chinese companies can do so in India. No foreign seeds can be imported into India without government approval but this is being bypassed, he further said.
“Such seed terrorism could create a threat to food security. China has much-advanced biotechnology and has the capacity to destroy Indian food production. The NSAI is going to write to the government requesting it to take stringent steps to stop seed contamination,” said Singh.
Why India is an easy target? India now has a well-defined channel for seed contamination and Herbicide Tolerant (HT) cottonseed is an example of this. About 50 lakh packets of HT Bt cotton (about 24 lakh kg) worth ₹300 crore are in circulation in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra, according to the NSAI.
Illegal HT seeds are contaminating breeding material and parent lines of the seed companies, especially those selling BG2 cotton seeds.
The NSAI alert follows the ISTA’s warning about the smuggling of suspicious and unrecognised (spurious) seeds into the country. The ISTA has received information that people in the US have been receiving seed packets through e-commerce companies without ordering for them. These seed packets are unrecognised and have no details of origin.
The NSAI plans to write to the Centre asking to put the Custom department on alert and confiscate illegal seeds coming from China or other countries. It wants courier companies and those receiving seed packets even when they have not ordered for it, to report it to the police and other government agencies.
Source : thehindubusinessline