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‘Draft pesticide Pesticides Management bill will hurt farmers’ (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)

Concern about new clauses

A group of Indian pesticide manufacturers says that the proposed Pesticides Management Bill, which is likely to be finalised this month, will harm both farmers and the domestic industry by not making it mandatory for the active ingredients of pesticides to be revealed in the registration process.

The draft Bill will allow importers to register readymade products without registering the active ingredients. He said that this would prevent Indian manufacturers from registering ‘me-too registrations’, and producing pesticides at a cheaper rate.

What could be possible implications?

Mr. Dave pointed out that farmers were able to buy a pesticide from Indian manufacturers at less than half the rate as sold by importers or multi-national corporations. For example, Bispyribac sodium, a herbicide for paddy, was introduced in the market at Rs. 8,000 per kg by an MNC but is now sold by Indian manufacturers at Rs. 3,500/kg.

What are the provisions under existing bill?

The Bill, a draft of which was made available for public feedback by the Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in February 2018, is intended to replace and update the Insecticides Act, 1968. The existing law mandates the registration of active ingredients, and allows for “me-too” registrations under Section 9(4).

However, in 2007, the government started allowing importers to register new formulations while keeping active ingredients secret for a fixed period. Though this policy was challenged in the Gujarat High Court and struck down in 2013, importers have been reluctant to comply, Mr. Dave said.

State of pesticides market
Currently, the domestic pesticide market is valued at around Rs. 20,000 crore, of which importers hold 30%. Mr. Dave said if the draft Bill was approved in its current form, it would demolish the concept of Make in India in the pesticides sector.

“This is not about intellectual property rights,” he insisted. “Most of these [imported] products are 25-30 years old, and their patents have long expired. By not registering active ingredients, they are effectively ever-greening their patents and harming the domestic industry.”

(Adapted from the Hindu)

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