Research.
 

Since 1999 I have been looking at how  multilateral trade agreements (i.e. the WTO) have affected  farmers and plant breeders rights and in the Indian context, first as a graduate student in economics at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and more recently with the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity program initiative with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  The papers provided here illustrate these research interests.  

I am currently pursuing doctoral research at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex.  My present research concerns how India can create regulatory frameworks within the context of the import, management, and risk assessment of transgenic technologies for agriculture, with a particular focus on Bt Cotton.

For those interested, a copy of my CV can be found here.  All papers are available in PDF form, and can be viewed by clicking on their respective title.

 

A Sui Generis Policy Option For India: Terminator Technology, TRIPS and the Welfare of Indian Farmers.  May 2002.
ABSTRACT: 

This paper attempts to predict what effects the introduction of seeds exhibiting Gene Use Restrictive Technology may have on the welfare of sharecroppers in India, and proposes policy measures to protect these farmers.  Due to monopolistic pricing strategies of seed suppliers, welfare comparisons based on farmers? usage of these seeds are dependent on the price of the seed.  More specifically, we consider a price at which sharecroppers are indifferent to either saving seed or purchasing seed.  A model is presented to determine this price, and is calibrated to arrive at a meaningful value for this indifference price.  An exploration of policy options within the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement and Indian intellectual property policy is presented, along with a set of recommendations for India to facilitate the sui generis option as imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO).  The main conclusions are that the long term welfare of farmers is maximized only if the prices of seeds are subsidized via a user fee system, thereby ensuring that prices paid by farmers remains at or below a specified indifference price.

 

Access and Benefit Sharing Systems: An Overview of the Issues and Regulation.  March 2003.

ABSTRACT:

This study aims to illustrate the issues at hand within Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) mechanisms for Plant and Genetic Resources (PGR).  An overview of the main components and terminology of ABS is presented, along with a description of the current international policy instruments.  Analysis of ABS experiences via an example of the Kani Tribe in the state of Kerala, India follows, along with a consideration of the relevant national regulatory frameworks on ABS that have arisen in India as a result of their obligations in the international arena.  The efficacy of these national frameworks is considered in light of the Kani example.  The main conclusions are that attempts at protecting PGR via Biodiversity Registers may not be possible in light of prior art requirements, and that efforts at the national level require strong coordination with other national instruments to be effective.

 

Benefit Sharing of Plant Genetic Resources: The Convention on Biological Diversity, The Bonn Guidelines, and Emerging ABS Frameworks.  Briefing Paper 1, Research Project on the Protection of Indigenous Knowledge of Biodoversity. New Delhi: Gene Campaign. April 2003.
This briefing paper was commissioned by Gene Campaign as a contribution to their Working Paper series.  The paper aims to provide a brief outline of the major issues at play within the context of ABS, as well as an overview of the relevant regulatory frameworks.  Additional hardcopies can be acquired directly from Gene Campaign by sending a request to genecamp@vsnl.com.

 

The Right To Save Seed.  Working Paper 13, Rural Poverty and the Environment Working Paper Series. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre. December 2003.
ABSTRACT: 

This study aims at providing insight on seed acquisition mechanisms of farmers in the state of Jharkhand, India.  By first establishing this mechanism, insight is provided on how India's obligations within the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), particularly Article 27.3 (b), will affect this acquisition.  India?s sui generis option, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act (2001) (PPVFR) is considered, as is the other relevant option, UPOV.  Other international agreements are considered in light of their relevance within the sui generis context.  The main conclusions are the current Indian sui generis option, the PPVFR, while successful and unique internationally in protecting the rights of farmers, is difficult to enforce in an international context as well as domestically.  Further, the paper argues that the PPVFR will prove unsuccessful in limiting instances of biopiracy, or the commercialization of plant genetic resources with no benefit sharing to, or recognition of, farmers.  It also concludes that suggestions of the rates of farmers saving local varieties of seed have been greatly exaggerated in the extant literature, and that a coordinated effort at all three levels of the Indian governmental system - central, state, and village - is undertaken to ensure that the goals of the Indian sui generis option are achieved.

 

Saving Seed or Saving Face? Seed Acquisition Mechanisms among Farmers in Jharkhand, India and sui generis Protection.  November 2004.
ABSTRACT: 

Much of the debates surrounding private ownership of seed for agricultural purposes of late have focused on the need to protect the right of farmers to save, reuse, sell, and exchange seed, broadly termed as farmers rights.  However, recent changes in seed acquisition among some farmers have provided catalysts to question whether or not the debate on farmers rights is still as relevant as previously imagined, at least to the extent that it is considered to be in the current literature.  This is further based on the wide breadth of literature that claims that the majority of seed available for use by farmers are sourced primarily from farmers own stocks; that is, saved seed.  This paper argues that, based on recent trends among farmers in the state of Jharkhand, India, the amount of farmers that exclusively save seed for their livelihoods has been greatly exaggerated in the current literature.  The paper further argues that the Indian sui generis plant variety protection legislation, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act (2001), while unique in its balance of both farmers and breeders rights, is ineffective in protecting those farmers that do choose to save seed, especially those who choose to save seed that is branded.

 

Regulating GMOs in India: Pragmatism, Politics, Representation, and Risk.   DPhil Research Outline, October 2006.

SYNOPSIS: 

 

This study will address how domestic biosafety regulation, as a consequence of both supranational obligations and national interest, is navigated, established, and referred to in practice.  Specifically, this work will concentrate on which actors and processes, both formal and informal, are truly effective in affecting policy aimed towards the regulation of a technology bound with uncertainty.  The area of interest will be the Vidarbha region in the state of Maharashtra in India, and the technology in consideration is Bt Cotton, a transgenic variety engineered to be resistant to a common biotic stress, the bollworm.

 

What Does It Mean To Regulate? A Review Of Epistemological Frameworks And Their Application Within The Indian Context. Clements, B., ed. Probing The Boundaries. Interdisciplinary Press: Oxford, 2007.
ABSTRACT:

The exercise and assertion of regulation and formal ownership of  genetic resources is primarily based on scientific tenets quantifying  risk and/or economic efficiency.  These tenets are formalized in practice via the prescriptive mandate of the World Trade Organization. While such a framework facilitates a set of guidelines to direct member states in  creating regulation, it also presents the spectre of an excessively narrow  basis of consideration. This paper will first address what is meant by  regulation within the disciplines of economics, law, and political science.  Drawing from this review, a number of key questions arising from the  Indian experience with genetically modified organisms will be posited.

 

Methodological Linkages Between Participatory Rural Appraisal and Participatory Video in an Applied Context.  August 2007.

SYNOPSIS: 

 

This table seeks to consolidate sixteen Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques within the context of the research currently being pursued. It seeks to highlight, first, the nature of the tool, and second, both a standard and applied description of how the tool will be used in this research. Of particular note here is the intersection between PRA and the use of digital video (DV) as a research tool. There are two streams within which DV will be used here. First, Participatory Video (PV) methodologies will be incorporated into certain PRA techniques. Second, as the researcher is also making a documentary, PRA techniques such as informal interviews and focus group sessions will also serve as content for future editing purposes. This distinction is made here where applicable. There are many intersecting points between the two bodies of literature and practice of PRA and PV, but little demonstration of how the two can be used together. This research seeks to address this methodological disconnect, in the hopes of presenting evidence of how these two sets of tools complement each other and can be used in tandem.

 

 

The Purity Of Perspective: Using Digital Video In An Applied Research Context.  I4D Magazine December 2007: 18-19.

ABSTRACT: 

 

In any exercise where an individual is seeking to explain a situation contextually, the ability to remove the bias of the author is limited. This is particularly the case when the author is working within an environment that is geographically and culturally distinct from his or her own. Within the context of a development oriented exercise, this perceptual heterogeneity between parties (i.e. the author and those being interacted with) can result in research results that are skewed, based on the perceptions of the author; for instance, what constitutes a success, or a failure. While perceptions are implicit and are required for any analytical exercise, how can one minimize the nature of the bias to afford those the researcher is interacting with a more accurate representation?

 
 

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