Non-GM opportunity for Indian exporters and farmers (31/5/2007)

1.Opportunity for Indian rice exporters - Radhakrishna Rao
2.Re: Organic soybeans GMO contaminated - Aruna Rodrigues
3.AgriVision for India: important petition - Bharat Mansata

EXTRACTS: "Since Indian rice is free from the GM contamination, this gap in supply certainly opens up vistas for additional market access for Indian exporters." - K.S. Money, Chairman of the New Delhi-based Agricultural Products and Processed Food Export Development Authority (item 1).

"In India, there is an alarming record of an increase in crop failure, farmer suicides and deaths of grazing cattle after the use of Bt cotton in rainfed areas of Andhra Pradesh and Vidharbha, Maharashtra. The high cost, high risk and ecologically damaging GM technology is not the solution for our agrarian crisis, and will further damage Indian agriculture." (item 3)


1.Opportunity for Indian rice exporter
Radhakrishna Rao INFA, May 31 2007 [shortened]

The sustained and no-holds-barred campaign by Indian farmers against the "backdoor and sly" move to introduce the genetically modified GM rice variety into the country, has resulted in the farmers in parts of Haryana and Tamil Nadu destroying the trial plots of GM rice. These experimental rice fields were being monitored by the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) on behalf of the American agro-business outfit Monsanto.

The increasing tempo of the countrywide opposition to GM rice has derived strength from the decision of the EU countries to ban the import of American rice, fearing contamination by the GM rice strain Liberty Line (LL-601). In fact, it was the detection of few grains of GM rice in the American rice consignments that prodded the EU countries to suspend the trading in American rice. Following this episode, the world's largest rice importer Ebro Puleva stopped trading in the US grown rice. In fact, there is a vehement public distrust of GM variety of food in Europe even as the USA is trying to hardsell the theory that GM food varieties are safe for human consumption.

According to a well-known agricultural scientist, "Bt (GM) rice proponent might argue that since rice is a self-pollinated crop, genetic contamination is excluded. But genes travel to related plots on their own which is called gene flow. In 1966, gene flow was discovered to be much more common than it was previously thought. The process of putting alien genes into plants and animals to favour certain traits or confer resistance is, at best, an inexact science, with unpredictable consequences. Genes don't necessarily control a single trait".

Clearly and apparently, the European countries' decision to stop importing American grown rice could be utilized by the Indian rice exporters to fill this "vital gap". The EU countries used to import about 300,000 tonnes of rice from the USA to meet a part of its annual requirement running upto 12,000,00 tonnes. And the rice of Indian and Pakistani origin imported by the EU countries used to account for around 3,00,000 tonnes. "Since Indian rice is free from the GM contamination, this gap in supply certainly opens up vistas for additional market access for Indian exporters", says K.S. Money, Chairman of the New Delhi-based Agricultural Products and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA).

Indian exporters of Basmati rice who have already established a presence in the EU countries hope to boost their export by expanding their portfolios to include non-basmati rice varieties. Pakistan and Thailand are the other major exporters of rice to the EU countries. And in terms of quality and price, Indian rice has certain advantages over its Asian competitors.

Navadanaya, a New Delhi-based NGO (Non-Government Organisation) has together with farmers from nine Indian States developed a register documenting over 2,000 indigenous rice varieties. According to Navadanya, the genetically modified rice strains are not only costly to cultivate but also are a poor match to the native strains in fighting pests, diseases and environmental fluctuations. Several indigenous rice strains adopted by the Indian farmers can withstand extremes of climatic conditions, survive submergence for a fortnight and even withstand salinity with a high degree of success.


2.Re: Organic soybeans GMO contaminated
Aruna Rodrigues

"Madhya Pradesh, (MP) the State in Central India where I live is the largest soy-growing area in India. It also has some of the greatest potential for organic foods and herbs. We need to remind ourselves that the old MP (was the largest State of India in terms of size) and included the newly formed State of Chhattisgarh which is part of the corridor of the centre of origin for rice. MP has some of the most perfumed and tasty rice varieties in India.

This story of contamination of non-GM soy, which is also organic [Organic soybeans GMO contaminated*] has particular relevance and lessons for MP. This State's biggest advantage yet is that India has been SAVED FROM THE BRINK by the Order of the Supreme Court which still stands. It prohibits the Union of India [ie India's central government] and its regulator from field trials of all food crops. Thus, MP soy barring HGT [Horizontal Gene Transfer] will remain non-GM. It is therefore, probably the only 'safe' source left in the world of soy for human and animal consumption. Non-GM soy lecithin, which is an emulsifier used in many food including chocolates, is in much demand. Are the chocolate manufacturers of Europe listening and is the Government of MP listening?"

*Aruna is responding to this report: Organic soybeans GMO contaminated http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7950


3.AgriVision for India - important petition Bharat Mansata
Holistic Ecological Agriculture for India, 11 point agenda for the Eleventh plan

To: The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of India CIVIL SOCIETY & FARMERS' REPRESENTATION ON AGRICULTURE

Paradigm Shift for the 11th Plan : Livelihood Security for Small and Marginal Farmers & Regeneration of Natural Resources through Holistic Agriculture

"Organic agriculture is defined as a holistic food production management system, which promises and enhances agro-ecosyste

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