|Rethink on GM urged for Orissa (12/9/2005)|
A rethink on GM crops is being urged for Orissa, an Indian state along the Bay of Bengal. Serious objections are being raised on behalf of organic farmers and a variety of organisations in Orissa to the way in which the public at large and farmers in particular have been left out of policy making on GM: "a delegation of farmers had met the chief minister in March, 2005 and he had promised to conduct a serious study on the matter of declaring Orissa as an 'organic agriculture state' which will ban GM seeds and food."
Predictably, it hasn't hapened and the fear is that the introduction of GM could spell the same kind of ruin that it has for thousands of farmers in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, from which Monsanto has now been banned because of GM cotton's dire performance and the company's refusal to compensate farmers.
CM urged to rethink on GM crops
In a letter to the chief minister, Mr Naveen Patnaik, THREAD representative, Mr G John said that Orissa is proud of having more than 700 native varieties of rice and the state has exhibited more than 500 indigenous varieties recently which had captured global attention.
The state has secured the second position in the world for having such a wide varieties of indigenous seeds. Among the two sources of indigenous seeds in the world, Koraput occupies the second position after Myanmar.
But with the introduction of genetically modified (GM) seeds, the cropping pattern will undergo serious changes and it will adversely affect the farmers. That will lead us to be dependent on multi national companies which will exploit the farmers and resources of the state, he apprehended.
Mr John expressed serious objection on behalf of organic farmers and organisations in Orissa to the policy formulation process which had not "consulted the public at large and farmers in particular."
He claimed that over 2 lakh tribal farmers living in more than 3,000 villages across the state were pained to hear about the controversial GM seeds policy.
The NGO activist recalled that a delegation of farmers had met the chief minister in March, 2005 and he had promised to conduct a serious study on the matter of declaring Orissa as an "organic agriculture state" which will ban GM seeds and food.
"Let's not end up introducing unsustainable and hazardous technologies and fall in the hands of exploiters who will only ruin the farmers of the state," he urged. Quoting a study on Bt cotton, the first commercially available genetically modified crop in India, Mr John said this crop had ruined thousands of farmers in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. He urged the chief minister to save the state from falling into the "transgenics trap" which will ruin our indigenous seeds and the livelihood of farmers.