Seeds of justice in Bihar
Seed major Monsanto has been held guilty for supplying Bihar's farmers with bad quality hybrid maize seeds two years ago and causing them huge losses. A House panel of the state government recently urged the company to pay compensation to the farmers. In doing so, it rejected earlier findings by the state agriculture department and a Union government agency that had held cold weather responsible for the failure of the maize crop in the state that year.
The panel pointed out that other varieties of seeds sown in the same weather had yielded crops. It also suggested that companies should be allowed to sell agricultural products only after they are tested under local conditions. During the Rabi season in 2002-2003, the maize crop failed in an area of around 20,000 acres in Vaishali, East Champaran, West Champaran, Khagaria and a few other districts, where Monsanto's Cargill maize seeds worth Rs 30 crore was planted.