Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fight for GM-Free India

Fight for GM-Free India

Today, 6th May 2008 is an important day for all well wishers of farmers of India, for the reason that this day Indian Capital New Delhi will see a large anti -GM (Genetically Modified or Genetically Engineered crops/foods) protest at Jantar Mantar .

This protest is organized by “Coalition for a GM-Free India” which represents lakhs of farmers and scores of organizations working with them from across the country, including farmers’ unions, environmental organizations, organic farming groups, women’s organizations etc.

This Coalition also has one of the largest membership bases in terms of practicing ecological farmers, within the informal network of the Coalition.

Some political leaders and well-known celebrities are expected to join the 1000-strong farmer and consumer activists concerned about GM crops in general and Bt Brinjal in particular. These leaders and celebrities are expected to join the dharna between 2 pm to 3.30 pm.

In this protest, farmers from fifteen states are expected to take part from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Consumers from Delhi are expected to join the farmers in this protest against the Government of India and big agri-business corporations in their undemocratic attempts to thrust down unsafe food down our throats.

Why fight against bt Brinjal?

Because, In India, we are standing on the verge of the first GM food crop, Bt Brinjal, being approved for the second (and probably last) year large scale trials this Kharif 2008.

Mahyco, the Indian avataar of Monsanto, would be walking up to the regulators for permission for the second [and last] year of large scale trials this Kharif [starting June 2008] of Bt Brinjal, the first food crop in India and the first such GM vegetable crop with Bt gene anywhere in the world.

Elsewhere in the world, especially Europe, more countries are clamping bans on GM crops. More regions are declaring themselves GM-Free. In India, the central government is steamrollering ahead, with its support to the biotech industry and showing its lack of vision for Indian farming again and again.

Certain state governments are fortunately taking a long term, holistic view on genetic engineering and are appreciating the environmental, human health, political, economic and socio-cultural implications of such a technology on Indian farming and society. However, the Union of India is not upholding even this Constitutional right of state governments and is blindly moving ahead with its approvals of various crop trials and experiments.

Bt Brinjal biosafety is questionable - in fact, we should not forget that the results of genetic engineering itself are very unpredictable and the very process of GE results in different unintended hazardous consequences. Recently several scientists also claimed that Bio Technology is not answer for the problems of our agriculture.

With Bt Cotton, the experiences of farmers across the country, as recorded by official sources too, range from newer and increased number of pests and diseases to fatal impacts on livestock, effects on human health and effects on soil with hardly any benefits as claimed by the industry. The stress intolerance of crops like Bt Cotton has also been recorded time and again. In this era of climate change, is this the technology that we want to rest our food and nutrition security on?

The regulators sitting in Delhi have also proven themselves to be unaccountable, unscientific, wedded to conflicting interests and apathetic to the real experiences of farmers on the ground. Hence, The anti-GM battle in India has reached a crucial stage.

If we continue to keep silent, more of this undemocratic thrusting down of unwanted, corporate technologies will continue to smother Indian farming as well as all of us - after all, you and I will not have any choices left if Bt Brinjal and other GM foods is allowed in. No systems of labelling will let you know if you are consuming Bt Brinjal or not, in this country.

It is in this context that Coalition for a GM-Free India” has invited all right-thinking, pro-farmer, concerned citizens to assemble at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on MAY 6TH 2008, for a one-day dharna.

Coalition requests: If you want the government to take message seriously, you should be there to show that you are against GM crops too. Please bring as many people as you can to the dharna site. Try to get signatures of people endorsing a NO GMOs message on a long banner and all the banners would be displayed during the dharna.

Interested also could contact : Kavitha Kuruganti, Coalition for GM Free India/ Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, 12-13-445, Street # 1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad 500 017
http://www.csa-india.org/; http://www.indiagminfo.org/ Phone: +91-9393001550

1 comment:

Ram said...

interesting blog and nicely done too...as I can't read Kannada cannot of course make out the Kannada part. But like the dual language approach.