Stop Bt brinjal! (11/6/2006)

1. Indian famers' leader on Bt brinjal
2.Biggest organic farmers' federation demands a stop to the release of GM brinjal
3.Tamilnadu Organic Agriculturists Movement declares against GM

The first item is a letter written by Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary, leader of India's largest farmers' organisation - Bharat Krishak Samaj.

Recently, in Tamilnadu, a predominantly agrarian state, the Tamilnadu Organic Agriculturist Federation was formed under the presidentship of Sri G Nammalvar, a farmer-scientist.

On 3rd and 4th of June, a large convention under his leadership came together, and more than 500 organic farmers declared that they will not allow GM crops in their motherland.

The second item is a letter to India's regulatory committee, the GEAC, signed by hundreds of people from all over the country asking the GEAC to refrain from approving the field trials of BT-Brinjal.

1.Indian Farmers' Leader, Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary's letter to GEAC chairman on the proposed field trials of BT BRINJAL
Executive Chairman
Former Chairman, State Farms Corporation of India
May 31, 2006

Shri B S Parsheera
Chairperson, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee [GEAC]

Dear Shri Parsheera

Sub: Bt Brinjal Large Scale Field Trials Consideration of application for permission by GEAC

This is with regard to the Agenda Item No. 4.2 in the GEAC meeting dated 1/6/2006 which says that GEAC will consider permission for seed production and Large Scale Trials of Bt Brinjal of 4 Mahyco hybrids in this meeting.

In this regard, we would like to bring to your notice that the GEAC is yet to act and fix liability on the various biosafety violations and irregularities brought to your notice by civil society organizations, including on a Bt Brinjal limited field trial in Andhra Pradesh. While turning a blind eye to the harsh realities related to serious regulatory failures, you seem to be ready to go all out to support the industry in its profit-making endeavours.

Given that there are many studies on adverse health effects with many GM crops from all over the world, what is the assurance that the right questions have been asked in this case to arrive at the right answers with regard to the safety of these crops? We have found that Bt Cotton, which was upheld through your tests to be safe to human health [amongst other things] is indeed causing a lot of health problems amongst farm workers and ginning factory workers. Similarly, there were recent reports on the mortality of livestock after grazing on Bt Cotton. It is not clear how GEAC is assessing such possibilities as part of its biosafety testing regime nor how is it acting at least on such reports by commissioning detailed independent investigations once these preliminary reports are out.

It would be disastrous for this country to rush into approvals just because a prescribed set of tests for a prescribed period have been completed as per some procedures laid down. There has never been a serious public debate initiated on the adequacy of such a biosafety regime and even though there is a Supreme Court case pending precisely on this matter, the GEAC seems to be in a great hurry to approve even GM food crops like vegetable crops, for reasons that are not clear at all. This is especially surprising in all those crops where safer, inexpensive and farmer-controlled options like IPM, NPM and Organic are in place, successfully practiced and established all over the country.

The data presented by the company on various studies done in Bt Brinjal was put up by the GEAC only this morning [31/5/06] and considering that this is a very important food/vegetable crop of the country, there should be at least 90 days allowed for feedback on the biosafety tests and their findings. Secondly, the data put up is not adequate for an intelligent and scientific debate to take place since it only has findings without details of the research design and protocol in each case. We demand that full reports on each test be presented and not just findings.

We also demand that the GEAC show its accountability to the public by sharing what improvements have been made in its biosafety protocols, in its monitoring systems and in its accountability systems, before giving any more permissions for trials, given your proven inability to ensure biosafety in this country. Here, we would like to remind you that it was during such field trials that illegal Bt Cotton and rapid contamination of the Cotton chain began in this country and GEAC could only wring its hands in helplessness. The dangerous and unscientific manner in which field trials take place in this country tell us that we are only one step away from a huge bio-disaster wreaked on Indian agriculture.

To sum up, we once again demand that the complete set of data on Bt Brinjal including the testing protocol [and not just findings] be put up for public feedback, that at least 90 days be provided for such feedback, that such feedback be taken on board with all the seriousness it deserves, that clearly-needed improvements be made in the testing regime and monitoring systems and shown to be made to the public before any permission for any more trials in the open environment are given in the country.

Yours Sincerely,
Krishan Bir Chaudhary
(Executive Chairman)

2.Biggest organic farmers federation demands a stop to the release of GM brinjal Shri B S Parsheera
Chairperson, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee [GEAC]

Dear Shri Parsheera

Sub: Bt Brinjal Large Scale Field Trials – Consideration of application for permission by GEAC – reg.

We wish to draw your immediate attention on the Agenda Item No. 4.2 in the GEAC meeting dated 1/6/2006 on the matter of considering granting permission for seed production and Large Scale Trials of Bt Brinjal of 4 Mahyco hybrids.

In this regard, we wish to point out that GEAC has already grossly failed in its proclaimed objective of ensuring safety of the environment and public health, and is liable for all the bio-safety violations and irregularities that have been brought to your notice on the Bt-Cotton issue by various research institutions, civil society organizations and even State Governments. Your attention had also been called on the violations in a Bt Brinjal field trial in Andhra Pradesh. While turning a blind eye to such harsh realities, one wonders what motivates you to consider giving further permission to large scale field trials of any GM crop in the country.

In this context we wish to point out that you were clearly fore-warned about the futility of the regulatory and safety systems that you are following for clearing the GMO research and field trials and which you with impudence chose to ignore. This action has led to letting loose a biological disaster affecting farmers and workers lives, consumer safety, health and environment.

· There are many studies on adverse health effects with many GM crops from all over the world. Some of these studies are so disturbing that countries have been forced to stall their research. The field trials of Bt Cotton in India has already led to the total contamination of the cotton chain, and we have found both the government and the companies either purposefully complacent or totally incompetent to contain and redress. This is an unprecedented situation. Given this situation we demand that GEAC take a precautionary approach in further research and release of Genetically Modified Organisms, especially in food crops and stall the release of Bt Brinjal seeds.

· Even though Cotton is a non-edible crop, it has created health hazards for people at different levels of its production and processing. In these circumstances, we are much concerned about the impact of Bt Brinjal on people who will be forced to consume it. We would also like to know -

1. Is India starved of Brinjal?

2. Did any citizen/ consumer ever complain of short supply of Brinjal?

3. Why should anybody consume Bt Brinjal when conventional and hybrid brinjal is available in plenty in every season ?

· No body including the manufacturers of GM crops has ever told that GMO’s are safe. In our country, both the scientific community and the farmers have done a lot of work on Brinjal to improve its productivity and control the pests, through IPM, NPM, Organic farming, Biodynamic Farming etc. The results are highly encouraging and these methods are inherently safe unlike the GMO’s. In this situation we do not understand why GEAC is in such a hurry to give permission to Bt Brinjal hybrids of Mahyco. We urge the GEAC that before giving permission they collect all information on all the research done on Brinjal, especially its agronomic performance as well as pest control and climate tolerant varieties and its field performance in the country and put it before the public for evaluation of these methods with Bt Brinjal.

· There has never been a serious public debate initiated on the adequacy or even the need of biosafety measures and it has led to gross violations as seen in the case of Bt Cotton, and the whole blame now lies on the farmers. Given the condition that farmers in this country are mostly illiterate and they are not properly informed of the biosafety regulations, and the situation that they cannot be relied upon to implement such biosafety measures as prescribed by the seed companies and the GEAC, further release of genetically modified crops and seeds can lead to a total bio-disaster in Indian agriculture.

· We understand that a Supreme Court case is also pending on the matter of introduction of GMOs and the Biosafety procedures etc and it is a legal impropriety on the part of the GEAC to display such hurry for approving GM food crops like vegetables, for reasons that they have not been able to justify at all.

For the above said reasons, we demand that the GEAC consider the seriousness of the issue and refrain itself from giving approval to the seed production and large scale field trials of Bt-Brinjal and other GM crops/organisms.

Thanking you in anticipation

1. Dr Desh Deepak Verma, Co-Chair, GEAC
2. Dr Ranjani Warrier, Member-Secretary, GEAC


We participants of the Tamilnadu Organic Agriculturists Movement convened on 3rd and 4th June, 2006 at Pattukkottai Tamilnadu State unanimously resolved to send the following appeal to the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu and the Chairperson New Delhi.

Respected Sirs,

1) It is well known throughout the world that the seeds produced and sold by private companies are destroying biodiversity of crops and seeds which are basis for sustainability.

2) Also, it is understood that the genetically modified seeds are endangering the traditional crop seeds which are resistant to pests, disease, drought and flood situation.

3) It is recognized that manipulation of geans will result in jumping of geans which will finally lead to gean pollution and will ruin the rural economy, human nutrition and food security.

4) It is really heartbroken to know that more than 520 farmers in Maharastra State has committed suicide due to failure of crops. These are reports in the media after cultivating BT cotton seeds.

5) Further in the case of BT cotton we are receiving alarming news that the plants carry on BT poisons and 1500 sheep in Andhra Pradesh have died after consuming BT cotton leaves. The Monsanto-Mahico company seeds have been banned in Andhra Pradesh for the loss of income incurred by the farmers. So this conference appeals to you to ban the entry of all the GM seeds and plants into Tamilnadu and our country.

Further, we read in the media that the companies are trying to introduce genetically modified BT Brinjal into our country and our state Tamilnadu.

We request you sir to consider the well being of the people and the environment as the first priority and to take necessary steps to ban the entry of BT Brinjal seeds either on trial basis or on cultivation in our mother land.

Thanking you,
Yours sincerely,
Tamilnadu Organic Agriculturists Movement.

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