|Kerala going organic / Organic farmers seek Supreme Court hearing (30/8/2007)|
1.India: Draft Organic Farming Policy in a Month
EXTRACTS: Irrespective of party affiliations, all the Assembly members will stand united on the decision to finalise Kerala's organic farming policy. That would be in a bid to save the state from the entry of genetically modified crops and the use of chemical pesticides. (item 1)
The prevalence of open-pollinating GM crops on the landscape is a matter of significant environmental and public interest. These issues transcend provincial or territorial boundaries, as organic farmers in Saskatchewan can no longer grow and sell certified organic canola as a crop. (item 2)
TiPURAM: With an aim to declare the [Indian] state as 'Jaiva Keralam', the draft organic farming policy of Kerala is expected to be finalised by the State Government in a month after presenting it on September 8.
The modalities are being worked out by the government to finalise the draft organic farming policy and with that 100 panchayats in Kerala will be declared as 'Jaiva Panchayats', Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran told this websiteÃs News Paper.
By next year, an entire district will be declared as an organic farming zone, he said. It may be reminded that even the previous government had plans to declare three districts Wayanad, Idukki and Palakkad as Ãorganic farming zonesÃ, but it did not see the light of the day.
The government had mooted the proposal following the success of the organic farm movement in Marappanmoola village in Wayanad.
The draft policy will be presented on the concluding day of the state-level convention organised by the Kerala Biodiversity Board which will begin on September 7. It would be inaugurated by Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan in the presence of the Agriculture Minister.
Experts on organic farm policy from other southern states will present the draft of the policies of their respective states on the first day of the convention.
The organic farming policy will ensure that the organic sustainability in Kerala is restored through the use of harmless bio pesticides like neem and through the use of organic manure.
The existing chemical farming through heavy inputs of chemical pesticides will be done away with as it has led to the depletion of soil, resulting in harmful effects on crops.
Reiterating the state's support for organic farming, Mullakkara Ratnakaran stated that 'Organic farming is natural and suited to the biodiversity in Kerala for it can only help in retaining the ecological balance.'
Irrespective of party affiliations, all the Assembly members will stand united on the decision to finalise Kerala's organic farming policy. That would be in a bid to save the state from the entry of genetically modified crops and the use of chemical pesticides.
Today papers were filed with the Supreme Court of Canada by the Saskatchewan organic farmers seeking leave to appeal the May 2, 2007 Saskatchewan Appeal Court decision which denied them class action status in their GMO liability suit against Monsanto Canada and Bayer CropScience.
Applicants Larry Hoffman and Dale Beaudoin are seeking compensation for the loss of canola as a certified organic crop due to the extensive contamination of canola seed and cross-pollination by GMO varieties belonging to Monsanto Canada and Bayer CropScience. They are also seeking compensation for the losses due to contamination of other organic crops due to the spread of GMO canola volunteers into organic fields. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal, and it is successful, the case will be certified as a Class Action under SaskatchewanÃs Class Actions Act, allowing the farmers to go to trial on these issues.
'Sometimes when you're wanting to be heard, or want to get action with people, you don't get anywhere until you go to the boss or the owner,' says Dale Beaudoin. 'By putting forth our application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court we are now going to the top.' Commenting on the Saskatchewan Appeal CourtÃs decision, Larry Hoffman stated 'The bar was set too high for class actions in Saskatchewan. We have to appeal to the Supreme Court because the lower court decisions as they stand make it futile for the common person to make a claim.' In his Memorandum of Argument, Council Terry Zakreski states: This case seeks to ask whether biotechnology companies incur responsibility when their patented genetically modified seed, pollen and plants infiltrate farmland, causing harm. While Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser confirmed that these companies have significant exclusive rights to GMO seed and plants -- the question remains whether they have any corresponding duties.
The case involves legal questions of significant importance to the public, namely liability and rights associated with the development, marketing, sale and dispersal of GMOs, as well as public access to justice through class certification. The prevalence of open-pollinating GM crops on the landscape is a matter of significant environmental and public interest. These issues transcend provincial or territorial boundaries, as organic farmers in Saskatchewan can no longer grow and sell certified organic canola as a crop.
Dale Beaudoin concludes, 'Our lawyer, Mr. Zakreski, is one of the most knowledgeable in the world on the subject of GMO crops. We are looking forward with the hope that our application for leave to appeal will be accepted.' Now that the farmers' papers have been filed, the defendants have 30 days to respond. Then the Supreme Court will make its decision as to whether or not leave to appeal will be granted.