Prelims level : Science & Technology Mains level : GS-III Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
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Why in News?

  • The Delhi High Court has struck down the decision of the Central government restricting the famously aromatic basmati rice production to only seven States in the Indo-Gangetic plains.


  • High Court’s verdict came on the Madhya Pradesh government’s plea to include 13 districts in the State under the Geographical Indications (GI) category for basmati rice.

Two memos

  • The Ministry of Agriculture had through two Office Memorandums (OM) of May 2008 and February 2014 confined the GI certification for basmati to rice grown in the Indo-Gangetic plains in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. GI certification gives recognition and several protections to a basmati rice producer and help in maintaining the specific qualities of the rice grown in that particular region. The Madhya Pradesh government contended that the two OMs were outside the scope of the Seeds Act, 1966. It additionally argued that the OMs encroach upon its power to pass laws in relation to agriculture, which is a State subject. The 2008 OM of the Ministry set forth the standards of the ‘basmati’ variety of rice.

Geographical indication (GI)

  • A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.

Seeds Act 1966

  • The parliament had passed to Seeds Act 1966 to provide legal framework around seed certification and make good quality seeds available to the cultivators. This act provided for establishment of a Central Seed Committee to advise the states in seed related matters. It also provided for establishment of Seed Certification Agencies in the states; Seed certification Boards and State Seed Testing Laboratories.
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