11 December 2002
SYNGENTA PULLS OUT OF BIOPIRACY PACT
Syngenta pulls out of research collaboration with IGAU
Press Trust of India News, 10 December 2002
SYNGENTA PULLS OUT OF RESEARCH COLLABORATION WITH IGAU
New Delhi, Dec 10 (PTI) -- Stung by criticism, the seed giant Syngenta India Limited has pulled out of the controversial research collaboration with the Indira Gandhi Agricultural University (IGAU) in Raipur, a company official said today.
Pawan Malik, president of seeds division of Syngenta said the discussions with IGAU were inconclusive and the proposal has been dropped.
"We are very disappointed to see the misleading and false accusations that were made (against the collaboration)," he said.
The collaboration would have given the company commercial rights to over 19,000 strains of local rice cultivars held by the university.
The rice varieties had been painstakingly gathered by the agricultural scientist R H Richharia in the 1970s. In exchange, IGAU would have received an undisclosed amount of money and royalties from Syngenta.
Environmentalists and some scientists opposed the deal on the ground that Richharia's collection is a national wealth and not private property of the university and that opening the database to a multinational company is a "sellout".
Malik said, in a statement, his company and the university were looking at a collaboration to work together to develop new rice hybrids that meet specific farmers' needs in that part of the country.
"We have collaborative research agreements with over 100 organizations and universities in different parts of the world," he said.
Though its deal with IGAU has fizzled out, Syngenta is already working in collaboration with many institutions in India including the Vasantdada Sugar Institute, Pune, G B Pant Institute of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar and the Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli.
Malik pointed out that rice is one of the crops covered under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which "aims to facilitate access to genetic resources and benefit sharing".
He said Syngenta was committed to comply with the principles of this treaty but it was too bad the deal with IGAU did not work out.
GOING FURTHER (compiled by GRAIN)
"So whose rice is it anyway?", Times of India, 29 November 2002.
"Governor for probe into rice germplasm deal", Times of India, 30 November 2002. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/xml/comp/articleshow?artid=29821213&sType=1
A collation of materials is found in "Syngenta caught in the act", AgBioIndia, 2 December 2002
A statement was issued by participants of the public forum on "Genetic Engineering, Agriculture and Farmers Rights" co-organised by Deccan Development Society, South Asia Network on Food, Ecology and Culture and Genetic Resources Action International on 2-3 December 2002 in Hyderabad. Soon available at http://www.grain.org