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No permission for GM Bt rice field-trials (23/6/2007)

1.No permission for GM bt rice field-trials - New India Express
2.GM crops will not be allowed in Kerala declares Kerala Agriculture Minister - Press release

EXTRACT: 'No GM crop trials and cultivation will be allowed in Kerala' the Agriculture Minister stated... He detailed the reasons for this decision, stating that farmers in Vidharbha and Andhra Pradesh were led to suicide by the planting of Bt-Cotton and that he will not allow anything like that to happen in Kerala.
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1.No permission for GM bt rice field-trials
New India Express, June 23 2007
http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEO20070623033111&Page=O&Title=Thiruvananthapuram&Topic=0
T'PURAM: The State Government declared on Friday that it had neither permitted the multi-national corporation (MNC) Mahyco to conduct field trials for genetically modified (GM) bt rice nor taken any decision relating to that.

The clarification was given by Law Minister M Vijayakumar on behalf of Chief Minister V S Achutanandan, in reply to a submission brought to the notice of the Assembly by Shreyamskumar MLA on Friday.

The submission was in response to this website’s newspaperreport on Thursday alerting farmers against the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee’s (GEAC) move to give nod for field trials in GM crops.

In his submission, Shreyamskumar warned that the GEAC’s agenda released on Friday approving MNCs for GM crops multi-locational research trials (MLRT) would prove disastrous to Kerala’s agriculture and environment.

According to the agenda, Mahyco has been permitted to conduct field trials in six transgenic Bt rice hybrids in Palakkad and it would be effective through an agreement slated to be signed on Saturday.

The GEAC's decision is in violation of the Supreme Court order dated September 22, 2006.

The appeal in this regard by the Union Environment Ministry was also turned down by the Supreme Court. A Biotech Task Force led by M S Swaminathan had declared the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats as 'GM Free region' to protect the bio-diversity of the region and submitted its report to the Kerala Chief Minister.

That apart, Kerala Biodiversity Board in its report has also recommended the government not to permit GM field trials in the state. A Bio-safety Committee constituted in the Kerala University has also prepared a 'Biosafety Code'. According to the code, no GM field trials can be conducted in the state without the verification of the Bio-safety Committee and prior approval from the State Government.

Shreyams Kumar also sought the intervention of the Assembly members to bring it to the notice of the Prime Minister and to prevent the Union Government from permitting such field trials with disastrous consequences.
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2.GM crops will not be allowed in Kerala declares Kerala Agriculture Minister. Environmental and Farmers Organisations hail decision.
Press Release
23rd June 2007, Trivandrum

Environmental organisations and Farmers Organisations in Kerala today hailed the Kerala Government and welcomed the declaration of the Kerala Agriculture Minister Sri Mullakara Rathnakaran not to allow Genetically Modified Crops in the State.

'No GM crop trials and cultivation will be allowed in Kerala' the Agriculture Minister stated in the 9.30 pm News Hour discussions in the Malayala Manorama channel yesterday. He detailed the reasons for this decision, stating that farmers in Vidharbha and Andhra Pradesh were led to suicide by the planting of Bt-Cotton and that he will not allow anything like that to happen in Kerala. He was responding to the issue of the 78th Genetic Engineering Approval Committee's agenda for approving field trials of six hybrids of Bt-rice in Palakkad region. 'Kerala is a State with rich agro-biodiversity and the government see it as its top priority to protect it' he said. According to the Minister, farmers from other states like Tamilnadu are resisting the entry of GM crops. 'Here the Government and the Agriculture department will take up the issue along with farmers not to allow genetically modified crops in to the field ', he said.

Earlier in the day, the Kerala Assembly heard the official statement of the Government on the issue. The Kerala Law Minister Sri M Vijaykumar, speaking for the Chief Minister, responded to submissions by Sri M P Shreyams Kumar, MLA. He stated that 'Kerala Agriculture Department has not given permission to the company Mahyco to conduct field trails of GM crops in the State. The Supreme Court has also not allowed any fresh approvals of field trials. Moreover, the M.S. Swaminathan task force on biotechnology has clearly pointed out that the agro-biodiversity rich regions like Western Ghats should be kept free from GM crops. The State Biodiversity Board also recommends in its Strategy and Action Plan to avoid experiments of GM crops in such biodiversity rich areas'. The Minister also pointed out that such experiments can only be conducted under the supervision of the Bio safety Committee of the Kerala Agriculture University upon following their Bio safety Code. The permission of the State and the Panchayath where the trials are to be conducted is mandatory before approval is given.

While appreciating the decision of the Agriculture Minister, Thanal along with Desiya Karshaka Samithi and Ecological Protection Forum Palakkad and other environmental and farmers organisations across the State, pointed out that a farming in Kerala can be made sustainable only by supporting local initiatives in Organic and ecological farming, reviving high yielding and resistant, locally specific traditional seeds and practices and local production of organic manure and ecological pest control methods. This will reduce cost of production while giving good nutritional and economic value to the final produce. Research support that is being siphoned off for biotechnology and other frontier sciences is not going to help feed the State, they said, and so more support must be sought from the Centre for locally specific agriculture revival initiatives.

For more information contact
S Usha, Thanal Ph : (0)9447022775
Sridhar R, Ph : (0)9995358205

Thanal
H-3 Jawahar Nagar, Kawdiar,
Thiruvananthapuram - 695003,
Kerala, India.
Ph : +91-471-2727150, 5543001
Email : thanal@md4.vsnl.net.in
website : www.thanal.org


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