Conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources in India: A review of policy issues and perspectives
Ravishankar, A.; Archak, S.
Outlook on Agriculture 28(2): 83-91
The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have propelled issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources to the fore. This paper attempts an objective appraisal from India's viewpoint of these relevant but contentious issues. After taking stock of crop genetic wealth, the shortcomings in the present structure of legal framework for conservation of the nation's genetic resources are examined. Property rights in plant genetic resources are the key to their conservation and wise use. Although India is a treasure-house of plant biodiversity, demographic factors, lack of a property rights regime and general ignorance have resulted in the plundering of these invaluable natural resources. This paper's argument is that if intellectual property rights (IPR) are imaginatively adapted to actual needs, they can go a long way towards the conservation of crop genetic resources. The dilemmas that developing countries face in the post-World Trade Organization (WTO) scenario are presented on the one hand as the all-important goal of food security (which calls for agricultural intensification), and habitat conservation on the other. Finally, a framework is suggested for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources.