ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Precautionary Principle under Biosafety Protocol

The essential component of the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety is the precautionary principle, which has far-reaching implications for India's export potential in agriculture and pharmaceuticals. Under this regime precaution precedes scientific proof under the pretext of risk to human health and environmental damage. However, the WTO ruling on the beef-hormone case between the EU and the US establishes a definite link between trade and precautionary approach.

Food Security

Sustained development of agriculture for ensuring food security needs country-specific measures, with a vital, balancing role played by all three crucial institutions of state, markets and civil society.

Coping with Nature'sWrath

Agricultural Disaster Management in Bangladesh by Hugh Brammer; The University Press, Dhaka, 1999; pp xxii + 427, Taka 750.

Futures Trading: 'Locking in' Profitable Prices

Futures trading has existed in India in several commodities, but has been a small town phenomenon covering low volumes and entry restricted and controlled by dominant producers. Given the importance of foreign trade in the growth process and agricultural commodities in India's exports the importance of reformed 'futures trading' cannot be overemphasised.

Deceleration of Economic Growth in Punjab

Since its phenomenal growth in the 1960s, Punjab is now facing an economic crisis of unprecedented scale. The decelerating economic growth is essentially rooted in the irrational pattern of investment and declining developmental expenditure and compounded by the crisis in agriculture, due to marginalisation of the small farmer and population pressure on land. The need at the outset, is a dire need to reorient the government's investment planning and strategy, along with implementation of change in the organisational pattern of production.

Doha Declaration and Agriculture in Developing Countries

Developing countries had hoped that the Agreement on Agriculture negotiated as part of the Uruguay Round and signed at Marrakesh in 1994 by 120 countries would open up export markets for their products in the developed countries. In the past six years, however, these countries have found that several asymmetries and inequities in the agreement were not conducive to their interests. These concerns were voiced at several meetings and the WTO was urged time and again to first attend to these implementation issues before widening the scope of the WTO at the Fourth Ministerial Conference. This article discusses the progress reflected in this regard in the Doha declaration.

Fertilisers : Policy Muddle

It is time once again for fresh policy convulsions in the fertiliser sector and for claims and counter-claims by the government and industry. After a break in 2000-01, the government has once again imported 2.2 lakh tonnes of urea in order, it says, to prevent a shortage in the current rabi season. Considering that the total installed capacity of urea in the country is 20.9 mn tonnes, the import of such a small quantity is probably a symbolic gesture to drive home the government’s determination to press ahead with ‘rationalisation’ of prices. In November, the government, in an ‘interim’ decision, notified lower retention prices of urea for 13 manufacturers with retrospective effect from April 2000. This is expected to result in savings of Rs 800 crore in subsidies given to fertiliser units. The government has also drawn up stiff new norms of capacity utilisation and feedstock consumption by fertiliser units based on which retention price will be determined. But a comprehensive long-term policy for the Rs 35,000 crore industry – a key element in the agriculture sector – has yet to materialise.

India's Policy on IPRs and Agriculture

Though the farmer's rights concept is still weak as it is currently stated in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture adopted by 116 countries, including India, under the FAO last month, India and other developing countries could use the negotiations to establish an international concept of farmer's rights. India could strengthen its own legislation in this regard by coordinating its efforts with those of other countries.

Cotton : Monopoly Mess

The Monopoly Cotton Procurement Scheme looks increasingly like becoming a millstone around the Maharashtra government’s neck. The cash-strapped state has not been able to pay farmers yet, though procurement of cotton began on November 7. The Shetkari Sanghatana leader Sharad Joshi has launched an agitation that has spread rapidly through the cotton bowl of Vidarbha, where the government also apparently failed to open most of the proposed procurement centres. Hundreds of farmers have resorted to rail and road traffic blockades and stonepelting, catching the government off-guard. To tide over the immediate standoff and to mollify the agitating farmers, the state government has decided to release Rs 500 crore through the apex state cooperative bank. Joshi, on his part, has agreed to put off his threatened hunger strike till December 1 to allow for further talks.

Cotton : Genie Out of the Bottle?

A correspondent writes: Genetically modified cotton (Bt cotton) finds itself at the centre of a fresh controversy. An Ahmedabad-based company has allegedly been found to have sold Bt cotton seeds to farmers in at least seven districts in Gujarat who have planted it in over 10,000 acres and are all set to reap a bumper harvest. In fact, some of them have already harvested their crop. The government has so far not allowed the cultivation of any GM crops, hence the transgenic cotton crop is illegal. The union environment ministry has now stepped in and asked the Gujarat government to

Continued Ambiguity on GMOs

Despite the easing of trade embargoes and the increasing cultivation of transgenic crops, India still needs to clarify its stand on genetically modified foods and their import. Besides setting in place a regulatory system, it is necessary to inculcate awareness among the numerous agencies involved in the task.

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