Farmers Denied Entry Visa to Canada to Tell Their Story (23/5/2005)

Farmers Denied Entry Visa to Canada to Tell Their Story
Keeping out the Opposition

or Just the Usual Treatment for the Third World?
Edmonds, Washington and New Delhi, India.
For immediate release

Today, in a story that began late last week when Canada denied an entry visa to Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, the Ethiopian government’s chief scientist and its representative to the Montreal-based UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), two farmers from India were denied visas to attend the same meeting that Tewolde was hoping to attend. The meeting begins Wednesday, May 25 in Montreal, Canada..

Professor Kavulakunpla Ramanna Chowdry, a farmer, retired professor of agricultural economics, and adviser to the Andhra Pradesh state government, and Kaka Ramakrishna, a farmer who suffered huge losses to the recent Bt cotton disaster in his region, were scheduled to speak about their experiences with the genetically engineered cotton at a side event at the Convention on Biological Diversity, which headquarters in Montreal. The side event, aptly entitled "Lie Ability and Liability", was to have been sponsored by the Edmonds Institute, which headquarters in Edmonds, Washington, and the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), which headquarters in New Delhi, India.

"I don''t know whether this is about keeping the opposition out of Canada," said Beth Burrows, Edmonds Institute director referring to the fact that Canada is an ardent proponent of genetically engineering, "or whether this is about Canada''s usual treatment of people from the Third World."

"After their visas were denied," she added, "the farmers were invited to reapply, provided they showed their bank records and that of the Edmonds Institute, a non-governmental organization that has been following the Convention on Biological Diversity since before it began."

"Afsar Jafri, of RFSTE, called me from India this morning to tell me about it. The farmers were there. We all felt so bad. It was too late to reapply. The event is the day after tomorrow."

"My apologies to people in the Third World," said Burrows, "I should have protested this kind of thing long ago. I had no idea that this was going on as a general rule. I learned just this morning that Canada - which I have always thought of as a lovely country - does this all the time to visitors from the South."

"I have brought many people to lecture at side events before and never had a problem like this. Despite the bank account request, it can''t be about money. I mean, if everyone had to show their bank account, all the people from all the debtor countries in the world - the United States included - wouldn''t be allowed to enter Canada. It must be about something else."

For more details contact:
Beth Burrows
Edmonds Institute
Until May 24: 1-425-775-5383 (in Edmonds, Washington)
After May 24: 1-514-845-9803 (in Montreal, Canada)

Afsar Jafri
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology
phone: 91-11-26968077 or 91-11-26853772 (in New Delhi, India)

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The Edmonds Institute is a non-profit public interest group that is
recognized as a 501(c)(30 organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Focused on education about environment and technology, the Institute is registered as a non-profit corporation and a public charity in the State of Washington.

Contact: Beth Burrows (425-775-5383, at the Edmonds Institute until May 24,
-514-845-9803 - Hotel Manoir
des Alpes - after May 24)
Edmonds Institute
20319-92nd Avenue West
Edmonds, Washington 98020 USA
phone: 425-775-5383
email: [email protected]


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