Avian Flu + GM CROPS + WTO (Inside Geneva) + MNCs Marketing Plans

In The Financial Express, India, Oct 17, 2005

1. Avian Flu In Russia, China, Bulgaria Sends Shivers Down India
2. 14 GM CROPS Approved For Limited Trials
3. WTO (Inside Geneva) - FARM FRONT Discusses Tactics Being Adopted By Developed Countries
4. Reputed Marketing Expert, Dr Mahanama Cautions MNCs To Respect National & Cultural Values

Avian flu in Russia, China sends shivers down India

Posted online: Monday, October 17, 2005 at 0142 hours IST

NEW DELHI, OCT 16: Outbreak of Avian flu in migratory birds in China and Russia has raised fears that this dangerous disease may spread to India.

Outbreak of Avian flu in poultry has recently occurred in Bulgaria.

So far no case of Avian flu has been detected in India either in birds, poultry or humans. “The animal husbandry department and health officials are on alert to take any possible steps to meet the situation,” a senior government official said.

According to WHO, a total of 117 cases of Avian infection among humans (with incidence of H5N1 virus) were reported between January 2004 and October 10, 2005. Out of these 60 cases were fatal. Similar cases have been reported in Cambodia (4 fatal cases), Indonesia (5 cases out of which 3 were fatal), and Vietnam (91 cases out of which 41 were fatal).

The executive director of Centre for International Trade in Agriculture (CITA), Vijay Sardana has called for strict quarantine checks on imported animals and birds and sanitary and phytosanitary checks on imported food.

While some experts feel that there is a possibility of Avian flu virus entering India through migratory birds from China and Russia in the winter season, others believe that it may enter through Andaman & Nicobar Islands and the eastern coast of the country from the Southeast Asian countries.
Wild birds and poultry are the natural hosts of Avian flu virus and hence the name. It is otherwise called Bird Flu. Avian influenza virus spread among susceptible birds when they contact contaminated excretions. Among Avian Flu viruses, H5N1 is considered fatal. The first instance of direct bird-to-human spread of H5N1 virus was reported during the outbreak of Avian Flu among poultry in Hong Kong.
GM Crops : 14 new veggie varieties approved for limited trial

Posted online: Monday, October 17, 2005 at 0144 hours IST

NEW DELHI, OCT 15: Fourteen transgenic food crops have been approved for contained and limited field trials in the country. The trials are being conducted by both public and private sector institutions, according to a recent document prepared by the department of biotechnology (DBT).

The target traits of these crops include insect tolerance, herbicide tolerance, viral and fungal resistance and stress tolerance.
The transgenic food crops approved for contained field trials are the brinjal varieties developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Delhi and the Mumbai-based private seed company, Mahyco. IARI has developed the transgenic brinjal with the insertion of cry 1 Ab gene, while Mahyco has developed their variety with the insertion of cry 1 Ac gene.

Mahyco and Sungrow Seeds Ltd, Delhi have developed their varieties of cauliflower with the insertion of cry 1 Ac gene. Sungrow Seeds has also developed transgenic cabbage with the insertion of cry 1 Ac gene.

The International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) which is headquartered in Patenceru near Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh has developed transgenic chickpea, groundnut and chickpea varieties which are in various stages of contained field trials. Icrisat’s transgenic chickpeas contain cry 1 Ac and Cry 1 Ab genes. Its transgenic groundnuts contain IPCVip and IPCV replicas.

The transgenic pigeon-pea developed by Icrisat contain cry1 Ab and SBTI.Monsanto has developed transgenic maize containing CP4 EPSPS which is also under contained field trials.

Transgenic varieties of mustard are developed by IARI, NRCWS, Jabalpur, TERI, Delhi and UDSC, Delhi. IARI’s transgenic mustard varieties contain CodA and osmotin. The mustard varieties developed by NRCWS and UDSC contain bar, barnase and barstar. The transgenic mustard developed by Teri has Ssu-maize Psy and Ssu-tpCrtl. It may be recalled in context that transgenic mustard varieties earlier developed by ProAgro having bar, barnase and barstar was rejected by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).

The Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) has developed transgenic potato with cry1 Ab gene while NCPGR, Delhi has developed transgenic potato with Ama-1 gene.

Rice is an important staple crop and seven organisations have developed transgenic rice.

The Hyderabad-based directorate of rice research has developed rice varieties for bacterial blight resistance and sheath blight using Xa-21, Cry1 Ab and gna gene. Osmania University, Hyderabad has developed transgenic rice using gna gene. IARI’s transgenic rice varieties contain Bt, chitinase, Cry1 Ac and Cry1B-Cry1 Aa.

Mahyco’s transgenic rice variety contains Cry1 Ac gene. The transgenic rice varieties developed by MKU, Madurai contain chitinase, B-1, 3-glucanase and osmotin. The Chennai-based MS Swaminathan Research Foundation has developed transgenic rice by borrowing genes from mangrove species. The Tamil Nadu Agriculture University has used chitinase in developing their transgenic rice variety.

Developed world undermining WTO spirit through FTAs

Posted online: Monday, October 17, 2005 at 0146 hours IST

Given the rigid positions of the major negotiating blocs, it seems unlikely that the trade talks in progress in the WTO general council meeting in Geneva will lead to a draft paper acceptable to all. Such a paper would have formed the basis of agriculture negotiations in Hong Kong in December.

G-20, the European Union, US and G-10 have already submitted their proposals. The gap between the WTO general council meeting and mid-November is too short for a consensus to appear.

Much behind-the-scenes activity is on at Geneva.

The developed bloc is interested in undermining the unity of the developing countries to achieve their goal. Lucrative offers, outside the ambit of WTO, are being made to developing countries.

The developed bloc knows for certain that if the unity of the developing countries is weakened by any means, they can aggressively push their agenda for gaining greater market access in the Third World. Even then, there are reports that the unity within G-20 is at stake.

The agenda of the developed bloc is clear - to maintain their level of protection and gain greater market access in the developing country markets.

The developed nations are determined to achieve their goal either through WTO or through free trade agreements (FTAs).

Incidentally, the FTAs are being designed by the developed countries to get more than what the WTO and Trips could give at this stage.

When the developed countries get what they wanted through FTAs, they would then later attempt to place these FTA rules inside WTO.
In most bilateral agreements so far signed by the US with the developing countries, there are rules on investment, government procurement and competition policy. The WTO draft of July 2004 had shelved these Singapore issues and US has brought back these issues through FTAs.

The US in its FTAs with Singapore and Chile has covered not only foreign direct investment, but also portfolio investment, loans, intellectual property issues, investors’ rights including pre-establishment rights. The defination of expropriation has been broadened to include indirect expropriation.

The FTAs signed by the US have rules on market access, national treatment of foreign firms and products and prohibiting preferential treatment for national firms. This is in contrast to the WTO working group discussions where only transparency aspect had been mandated for consideration.

Similarly, the developing countries are obliged to open up their services sector, much to their disadvantage when striking FTA deals with the US. FTAs make use of the “negative list approach” for opening up of the services sector, while the WTO services agreement talks of “positive list approach”.
In the negative list approach, if a particular sector, by mistake, escapes mention as an exception, it is presumed to be open for foreign investment.
FTAs, thus reduces the flexibilities accorded to developing countries under WTO. Besides the dedeveloped countries cite Article XXIV of the GATT to make a case for tariff elimination by parties on “substantially all trade.”
Thus developing countries should be careful in striking any FTA deal with a developed country. They may lose the flexibilities accorded to them under WTO.

The developed bloc are more eager to strike WTO plus and TRIPS plus deals through FTAs. Many developing economies are suffering on account of FTA deals struck with the developed world.
Consider traditions, cultural values before entering a market: expert

Posted online: Monday, October 17, 2005 at 0143 hours IST

NEW DELHI, OCT 16: Rural markets in Asia offer many challenges to marketers. Professional marketers should never be oblivious to social responsibilities when targeting rural societies, said a reputed international marketing consultant, Dr Upali Mahanama.

“Those who venture into rural markets without giving due consideration to cultural, traditional and national values will have to face the consequences. Only true professionals who have a desire to enter markets by providing appropriate products, consistent with accepted rural values while adhering to strategic marketing principles will survive in the long run,” Dr Mahanama said.

Dr Mahanama was recently in India at the invitation of Birla Institute of Management Technology.

Dr Mahanama held many big companies and multinationals guilty of ignoring social responsibilities and cultural and traditional values. “We often hear cries from village leaders and religious dignitaries that such companies corrupt rural societies steeped in culture and tradition”, he said.

Another general accusation, Dr Mahanama said, is that marketing promotes materialism. This, he said is not confined to rural societies alone but even to affluent societies in the West. Justifying his statement he quoted Arnold Toynbee’s words : “ All mass marketing and production has been excessive, causing a spiritual breakdown. A hungry and destitute Indian peasant is less unhappy than a Western worker, who eats a streak for dinner and has a refrigerator, a TV, air conditioning and a car.”

With a view to promote successful marketing without giving scope to such resentments, Dr Mahanama said, “The ideal situation is to ensure that products in all aspects, such as marketing communications, pricing, design and promotion satisfy the demands of society as well. Professionals who subscribe to the intrinsic philosophy of marketing, should give the leadership to promote products consistent with the lifestyles of rural people and carve a favourable niche for themselves for long-term mutual benefit.”

Dr Mahanama, however did not rule out the need for innovation. He said that new products have to be developed on a planned basis to satisfy new needs of the consumers. He noted that with increased competition, the “life cycles” of products are becoming shorter. Hence through the process of product development, a product could be given a new lease of life and the cycle could commence.

He said that there is a high risk in product development. Even in the West with very sophisticated marketing, the rate of market failure is as high as 80%.

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