|India - GM crop ban / The dying fields / Pawar on bio-nanotech (19/9/2007)|
1.Bengal: Agri panel for GM crop trial ban
EXTRACTS: "The members of the commission were unanimous about the need for banning trials of GM crops in open fields..." (ITEM 1)
It seems, organic or even traditional seeds would be far less costly and yield much better results for Vidarbha's farmers, yet these alternatives are becoming increasingly threatened. (ITEM 2)
"Bio-nanotechnology takes agriculture from the era of genetically modified (GM) crops to the brave new world of atomically modified organisms" - India's Minister for Food and Agriculture, Sharad Pawar (ITEM 4)
India has finalised export deals for up to 400,000 tonnes of soymeal at about 40 percent higher prices than a year ago, thanks to a bumper crop forecast and robust demand, industry officials said on Monday. Indian soymeal is not genetically modified (ITEM 5)
1.Bengal: Agri panel for GM crop trial ban
"The members of the commission were unanimous about the need for banning trials of GM crops in open fields till we are certain about the safety aspects through further research. Trials may be permitted only in case of government farms or those under universities," Mr Nurul Huda, the member from CPI-M said. Representatives of the farmers wing of the four key Left Front constituents including Forward Bloc (which holds the agriculture department) were equally vocal about banning the field trials, particularly in view of health hazards and GM contamination.
"The commission has also asked the state government to inform the Centre about the ban to be imposed on field trials," another member of the commission said. However, the agriculture minister, Mr Naren De who has often been accused of supporting GM crops by the anti-GM lobby in the state, confirmed the stand taken by the commission and said, "The state government has yet to take a decision in this regard."
There was a huge outcry over field trials of GM crops because the trials were permitted even before the state government had set up its regulatory bodies, either at the state level or district level. Citing reports by the monitoring authority, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya professor TK Bose, a member of the commission, alleged that Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds company (Mayco) had conducted illegal field trials on Bt brinjal and Bt tomato without following bio-safety measures and monitoring as suggested by the Department of Biotechnology at the Centre, although they had only been given permission for trials on Bt rice and Bt okra (ladies finger).
2.The Dying Fields
...Left behind by India's soaring economic boom is Vidarbha, a region of hilly forests in the middle of India. It used to be known as India's cotton belt - but now captures headlines as its suicide belt.
Vidarbha farmers face a grim reality of crop failures, sinking global cotton prices and crushing debts...
At a moment when India is enjoying record economic growth, THE DYING FIELDS turns to Vidarbha's four million cotton farmers who have been left behind, struggling to survive on less than two dollars a day. WIDE ANGLE cameras follow Kishor Tiwari, former businessman turned farmer advocate, whose tiny office in the heart of this cotton-growing region functions as the archive and watchdog for the suicide epidemic; traveling salesmen hawking genetically modified - and costly - cotton seeds that require irrigation that few Vidarbha farmers have; the last rites of a farmer who couldn't pay his debts...
Commentary on The Dying Fields
...The novelty of "Bt" seeds is another feature of stress trouncing Vidarbha's virtually agrarian community. The scandalous imposition of these "commercially produced hybrids" is credited largely with interplay between U.S. and Indian chemical companies. A glorified advertising campaign is the gloss.
It seems, organic or even traditional seeds would be far less costly and yield much better results for Vidarbha's farmers, yet these alternatives are becoming increasingly threatened.
Sources referred to:
3.Proposed government rider may become a GM crop killer [shortened]
...if the government decides to go ahead with this proposal, it will make it tougher for any GM crop to make the grade. Companies and research bodies developing GM eggplant, for instance, must, in addition to passing toxicity and allerginicity tests, show that this is nutritionally superior to ordinary eggplant.
Genetically modified eggplant is now at the penultimate stage of test trials and, if all clearances are given by GEAC, is expected to be commercially available in two years.
4.Bio-nanotechnology will help India's food security: Pawar
'Bio-nanotechnology takes agriculture from the era of genetically modified (GM) crops to the brave new world of atomically modified organisms,' Pawar said, speaking at the inaugural session of the three-day Fifth Knowledge Millennium Summit on 'B2B Bio and Nanotechnology' organised by industry body Assocham.
Stating that bio-nanotechnology was an interdisciplinary science, which emanated from the convergence of biotechnology and nanotechnology, he said: 'The potential opportunities offered by such an interface are truly astounding and encompass plant sciences, agriculture, food safety, medicine and disease diagnostics.'
5.India's soymeal exports pick up
Last year, India sold soymeal at prices which were lower by around $80 per tonne. Indian soymeal is not genetically modified, and the country enjoys a distinct freight advantage over supplies from South America and the United States.
Poultry feed makers in countries like Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand are traditional buyers of lndian meal. Industry officials expect Indian soymeal exports in the new season beginning in October to cross four million tonnes, from the current years around 3.7 million tonnes.
The industry is expecting the soybean harvest in the new season to cross 8.5 million tonnes, up from 7.6 million tonnes this year.
The area under winter harvested oilseeds stood at 17 million hectares on Aug. 30, the Farm Ministry said on Friday, from 15.64 million hectares a year earlier. The area under soybean has increased by 9 percent and groundnut coverage was up by 14 percent. reuters