Stop Bt cotton seed sales - Animal Husbandry Dept (26/3/2007)

1.Animal Husbandry department wants Bt cotton seed sales stopped
2.Animal Husbandry department's advisory not to graze animals on Bt Cotton
3.Greenpeace fights for transparency over India's GM field trials

EXTRACT: ...he announced that the Animal Husbandry department would write to the agriculture department in the next couple of days to stop sales of Bt Cotton seeds until investigations into sheep/goat/bullock deaths after grazing on Bt Cotton are completed. (item 1)


1.Animal Husbandry department wants Bt cotton seed sales stopped

Dear Friends,

As more reports of animal deaths and illness connected to Bt Cotton are pouring in from Khammam district now, today the Andhra Pradesh Goatherds' & Shepherds' Union organised a day-long dharna at Indira Park in Hyderabad where delegates from more than 14 districts of the state congregated. The Union members were pressing for some long-standing demands related to the welfare of shepherds and goatherds in the state including the following related to Bt Cotton:

1. That the government investigate immediately and state conclusively that there is no danger to animals from Bt Cotton/GM crop open grazing. That the conclusions from the investigations so far into Bt Cotton and animal deaths be put out.

2. That until the Animal Husbandry department puts out conclusive findings, no further sale of Bt Cotton seeds be allowed by the agriculture department.

3. That farmers and shepherds who have lost their animals be compensated.

The dharna was presided over by Mr Devinder, President of the Union and by Mr P Jamalaiah, Secretary of the Union.

Later, a delegation of the Union went and met the Additional Director (Health) in the Animal Husbandry Department, Mr LakshmiRajam.

Other senior officials of the department also took part in the meeting in Mr Lakshmi Rajam's chambers.

Mr Lakshmi Rajam admitted that the deaths and illnesses were not related to any known diseases or causes and shared that samples sent from the districts so far could not be analysed because they were not sent in proper condition. Fresh samples were brought recently by a special representative of the department from Adilabad and these have been sent for investigation.

He also assured the delegation that the animal husbandry department realises the gravity of the situation and the fact that livelihoods of shepherds and farmers are at stake here - he announced that the Animal Husbandry department would write to the agriculture department in the next couple of days to stop sales of Bt Cotton seeds until investigations into sheep/goat/bullock deaths after grazing on Bt Cotton are completed. A special research project has been sanctioned to, and commenced recently in the Pharmacology dept. of the Veterinary University under the guidance of Dr Gopal Reddy, he informed.

For more information, contact Mr Jamalaiah of AP Goatherds' & Shepherds' Union at (0)98-490-32569.

Kavitha Kuruganti

pic: A shepherd from Kothagudem village, Mr M Kotaiah, in the dharna today; Mr Jamalaiah and another representative in the Union discussing with Mr Lakshmi Rajam, Additional Director, Animal Husbandry dept.


2.The advisory put out by the Joint Director Animal Husbandry department through the media, to farmers in Adilabad district, not to graze their animals on Bt Cotton:

Media Announcement

It has come to our notice that in several blocks of the district, animals are falling sick after grazing on Bt Cotton fields. After harvesting cotton completely from the fields, there is a long tradition in the district of grazing animals in those cotton fields. However, because Bt Cotton is being grown in large tracts and because of a yet-unidentified toxic material in these plants, it has come to our notice that animals which are grazing on these fields are exhibiting symptoms like shivers, convulsions, running nose, bloat, bloody diarrhea etc., and are dying. Therefore, we appeal to farmers not to graze their animals on Bt Cotton fields. We request farmer brethren to please do approach the nearest veterinary doctor and get treatment, if any animal has grazed on such fields accidentally.

Sd/- M Venkataswamy
Joint Director
Animal Husbandry Dept


3.Greenpeace takes RCGM to info panel
Financial Express, March 26 2007

CHENNAI, MAR 25: The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and its Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM), the agency which permits field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops, will have to change its approach to making public the biosafety assessment process and results of field trials if the Central Information Commission accepts the argument of Greenpeace.

A case of Greenpeace against the refusal of the Department of Biotechnology to provide data on biosafety tests of the GM rice and other crops is coming up before the Central Information Commission, the apex body for dealing with Right to Information cases, on April 5, 2007.

Under the RTI Act, Divya Raghunandan, representative of Greenpeace, had asked for three important informations: a list of filed trial locations of GM brinjal, okara, mustard and rice approved by RCGM for multi-location trials; Toxicology and allergenicity and other relevant data on these GM crops and the minutes of the RCGM meeting between February 2005 and February 2006.

DBT provided a list of field trial locations of these crops. However, it refused to offer information about the other two queries under Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act citing that "information, including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party" cannot be provided.

Greenpeace appealed against this order to the Central Information Commission under Section 19 of the RTI Act, 2005. The Commission has asked the Principal Information Officer of DBT to appear before it for a hearing on April 5, 2007.

RCGM is a body of scientists, doing biotechnology and genetic engineering research under the Department of Biotechnology of the ministry of science and technology. It is RCGM that apporves open air field trials of the GM crops in the country.

There has been accusations by non-governmental organisations and farmers' groups that the field trials of GM crops have been poorly monitored and were not according to the letter and spirit of the law. Several cases of mixing up of the untested GM crops with non-GM have been reported.

Greenpeace activists say that the need for transparency by giving details about the field trials of GM crops, especially edible crops, were very important for the livelihood security of the farmers and safety of the consumers and protection of biodiversity and ecology.

"The toxicology and allergenicity tests are the only tests done to assess the safety of GM crops for human health and environment. They are usually done by the company's own laboratories or outsourced to the private labs. These tests are done after the field trials. Thus any mishap in the field trial stage will have the risk of releasing untested and potentially harmful GM crop into the open fields and contaminating the non-GM crops. These untested crops might replicate themselves and there would be no control over their spreading and there would be no idea about the biosafety of the mixed crop. This ultimately means that through poorly-monitored or clandestine field trials untested GM crops get released without any precautions and approval. The release is irreversible. There is no known means of remediation of genetic pollution".

Greenpeace activists told FE that it was in this background that "we asked for the information from RCGM. If the Central Information Commission rules in our favour it will be the first case where the detailed data of tests would be made available for public scrutiny.

The quality of the reports, method of assessment and the real harmful nature of GM crops can be be brought to the public light".

Greenpeace activists say GM crops were more dangerous to the developing countries like India where subsistance agriculture is still practised. Through GM agriculture would be alinenated from the poor farmers by the multinational companies that determine the price and supply of seeds.

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