India needs to ban GM crops (22/2/2008)

1.Protests seeking stoppage of GE field trials


1.Protests seeking stoppage of GE field trials
Press Trust of India, Feb 22 2008

Coimbatore (PTI): Accusing Tamil Nadu Agricultural University(TNAU) of 'carrying on research upon the diktats of US-based Monsanto', farmers and environmental organisations on Friday staged protests at the field trial sites of Genetically Engineered brinjal within the campus.

More than 100 activists of Greenpeace, 'Pasumai Thaayagam', the green wing of PMK, and Tamil Nadu Agriculture Protestion Committee, along with a several farmers marched to the site holding placards and banners and raised slogans demanding stoppage of all GE field trials.

They alleged that the University was being 'converted into a property of Monsanto'.

The protestors alleged that BT brinjal field trial held in association with Monsanto Mahyco, the Indian arm of the American company, was done to fulfill the mandatory trials required to allow commercial release of GE food crops.

If the trials were completed successfully, it would pave way for the first GE food crop to be sold in the market, which would have adverse impact on the health of human beings and livestock, Selvam, secretary, Erode Organic Farmers' Collectives, told reporters at the site.

Groups across the globe, protesting the introduction of GE food crops, apprehend that the plants made resistant to pests could also seriously affect human health. According to them, proper researches were not being done to allay this fear.

'The farmers do not want this technology. TNAU, which is funded by the taxpayers' money must go by its primary mandate of serving the farmers and not a corporation', he said adding 'encouraing GE is only helping the companies gain profit'.

Satahriya Sekar of Pasumai Thaayagam claimed that brinjal trials could also 'contaminate' other crops around.

Police in adequate number have been deployed in TNAU to prevent any untoward incident.


Press Release, Navya Seema Development Society, 45/24-K-32-1, Ashoka Nagar, Kurnool

Kurnool, February 20th, 2008: Speaking in a round table discussion on GM crops and their very need in Indian farming, speaker after speaker demanded that these crops be banned from India. The round table, in which around 75 representatives of political parties, women's groups, farmers' unions, district doctors' association, legal fraternity, organic farmers, researchers & students participated, discussed in detail various issues pertaining to GM crops, including the situation worldwide, in India and evidence available on such crops.

Mr K Jagannadham, from Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangam (CPI-M) pointed out that big MNCs and their profit ambitions were behind this technology and that we need to protect Indian farming from such MNCs. Lok Satta leader Mr K Omkar said that GM crops will become humankind's greatest disaster. Ms P Nirmala, state leader of AIDWA (All India Democratic Women's Association, affiliated to Communit Party of India-Marxist) in Andhra Pradesh felt that the entry of GM crops is an indication of the nexus between the rulers and the agri-business corporations and that the government is becoming a puppet in the hands of such corporations. She gave a call for women's groups and other people's organisations to come forward to struggle against GM crops.

Mr P Gokari, leader of CPI-ML New Democracy party demanded that GM crops should be banned not just in Andhra Pradesh but all over India. City President of Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Nagaraju, urged farmers to go back to traditional farming as a way of improving their environment, health and livelihoods.

Ms Nagalakshmi Devi, former Public Prosecutor presented the details of how the bitter side of GM crops took only a few years to come to the fore in the case of Bt Cotton cultivation. She pointed out that yields were coming down and demanded that it is the responsibility of the government to create awareness amongst farmers against GM crops, the same manner in which they are running awareness campaigns about HIV-AIDS at present.

Representing Vyavasaya Karmika Sangham (Agricultural Labour Union), Mr Nageswara Rao said that his association will take the struggle against GM crops forward.

This round table meeting, one of the first in Andhra Pradesh at the district level, was chaired by Mr Siva Nagi Reddy of Navya Seema Development Society and other participants included Mr Rama Krishna Reddy, District Committee member of AP Rythu Sangam, Dr Ramgopal Rao of District Doctors' Association, Dr Chakravarti, Secretary of Jana Vignana Vedika Mr Chenna Kesava Reddy, Mr Ayyappa Reddy of Telugu Rythu (affiliated to Telugu Desam Party), Mahila Samakhya (CPI) leader Ms Dastagiramma and Mr Vijay of BWRDS (an NGO) amongst others.

For more information, contact:

1. Sri Siva Nagi Reddy of Navya Seema Development Society at [0] 99-897-46665 2. Ms Kavitha Kuruganti, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture at [0] 93-930-01550


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