Protest in Bagladesh against Golden Rice (7/8/2006)

Note re the protest outside the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI): In 2003 Gerard Barry, a leading Monsanto executive who had played a key role in achieving industry support for the Golden Rice project, was appointed Coordinator of the International Rice Research Institute - IRRI's Golden Rice Network, of which BRRI forms a part. Barry's task was 'to facilitate the development and deployment' in Asian countries of this GM rice.

Protest Meeting against the Introduction of Golden Rice, organized by UBINIG and Nayakrishi Andolon in front of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI)
Press Release from UBINIG in Bangladesh[Policy Research for Development Alternative]

A protest meeting was organized today (August 6, 2006) in front of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute against the introduction of Golden Rice.

The meeting was organized by UBINIG and Nayakrishi Andolon. The meeting was attended by 100 farmers representatives. It was chaired by Harunur Rashid, a farmer. The meeting was addressed among others by Rokeya Begum, Nasreen Begum, Tamijuddin, Palash Baral and Jahangir Alam Jony.

Farmer Rokeya Begum mentioned seed is the heart of the farmers. "For thousands of years the farmers have been maintaing seeds with their own hands. Today the government and the seed companies have been squandering this invaluable resource. What a terrible time! The very word GMO initiates skin rash. We warn the government and all others concerned with the game of ducks and drakes involving seeds, we shall not spare anybody"

Farmer Nabiron mentioned, "I can not pronounce GMO/LMO, in fact I do not like to utter these as well. It is said the government is planning for introduction of 'Golden Rice' with a view to offering us extra vitamins, although we have many local varieties of rice with high cantent of vitamins."

"In addition we have plenty of vegetables rich in vitamines. We don't need any vitamins enriched GMO rice. Many of our local rice varieties with lots of rare attributes are now threatened. The government should conserve those threatened varieties. Contrarily the government is learnt to have agreement with a company to give authority of our best variety of rice, BR-29. This is a shameful act. We protest against this deal."

On behalf of Nayakrishi Andolon Jahangir Alam Jony mentioned, "deep rooted interest of the company is inherently linked with the introduction of genetically engineered rice. There is no relationship of remedy for night blindness with GMO rice, 'Golden Rice". There are plenty of food items available in Bangladesh rich in vitamin A. The Nayakrishi farmers have so far, identified 67 local varieties of rice rich in vitamin A. Local midwives prescribe these rice for the pregnant mothers and the children. Moreover, we have many vitamin rich vegetables. BR-29 is a rice variety of Bangladesh. There is apprehension about the piracy of BR-29."

On behalf of UBINIG, Palash Baral mentioned, "we have come here together in order to voice in clear terms that the introduction of GE/GM would be disastrous for the farming community and the nation at large. This is definitely an anti public act. On behalf of the public we strongly protest this heinous act of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and the Government of Bangladesh. There is no alternative of saving agriculture and the farmers of Bangladesh without conserving and expanding the local resources. Making secret deals with companies is simply an anti-people activity."

Farmer Harun ur Rashid reiterated the fact that GMO agreement means a kick in the belly of the farmers. "We must not spare those who will kick us in the chest. Scientist friends! we invite you to work with us to save our resources".

Slogans and banners also marked the protest against the introduction of GMOs and 'Golden Rice'.

The meeting was concluded with a unanimous recommendation for:

*Enactment of a law for conservation of biodiversity based ecological agriculture

*Formulation of national policy against introduction of genetically modified rice and other GMOs.

UBINIG (Unnayan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona)
Policy Research for Development Alternative
5/3 Barabo, Mahanpur, Ring Road, Shalom, Dhaka-1207
Phone 8111465, 8124533

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