|Battle over GM rages in India (28/3/2008)
1.GM brinjal battle goes to HC 2.Activists concerned over GM crop safety EXTRACT: 'I appeal to all agricultural scientists of the world to kindly help farmers in coming out of vicious circle of dangerous genetically modified (GM) crops like BT Cotton because reports have been coming for about 10 years which say these crops are harmful for humans, animals, ecology and environment alike and manufacturers and promoters of these globally controversial GM crops have not been able to counter these reports and findings yet'. (item 4) ---
1.GM brinjal battle goes to HC
2.Activists concerned over GM crop safety
EXTRACT: 'I appeal to all agricultural scientists of the world to kindly help farmers in coming out of vicious circle of dangerous genetically modified (GM) crops like BT Cotton because reports have been coming for about 10 years which say these crops are harmful for humans, animals, ecology and environment alike and manufacturers and promoters of these globally controversial GM crops have not been able to counter these reports and findings yet'. (item 4)
---1.GM brinjal battle goes to HC
NEW DELHI: It's a classic case of commercial interest vs public interest which could set an important precedent. Genetically modified brinjal — expected to be the country's first edible GM crop — could find its way to your plate soon.
But first, Delhi high court will have to decide whether the company conducting its field trials can keep data on health and environment safety tests out of the public domain on the grounds that the information is a 'trade secret'.
The data in question comprises toxicity and allergenicity studies and was submitted by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co Ltd (Mahyco), a subsidiary of multinational Monsanto, to the department of biotechnology for regulatory clearances.
A representative of environmental watchdog Greenpeace sought access to the data under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
Currently, open-air field trials of GM brinjal are being conducted in the fields of 11 public sector institutions. It is expected to hit the market by 2009, with Indians being the first global consumers of this transgenic crop.
While Greenpeace says disclosure is in public interest, Mahyco has moved high court seeking quashing of the order passed by the Central Information Commission last year ordering the department of biotechnology to release data on the safety tests.
The company has argued that the data contains immense patentable information and should be considered its intellectual property.
In its petition, it has also said that the CIC order violates the government's obligations under TRIPS.
The CIC order came after the department of bio-technology turned down Greenpeace's plea for data on the grounds that the information it sought included 'commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party'.
Besides brinjal, Greenpeace also sought bio-safety data on GM bhindi, mustard and rice. However, the CIC found merit in the Greenpeace argument that the data would not be used for commercial purposes and was sought to ascertain the risks that transgenic crops pose, particularly when open-air field trials are being conducted across the country.
The second time around, the department of biotechnology did not deny access but said the data could not be provided as it ran into thousands of pages.
The Central Information Commission heard a second appeal on November 22, 2007. The Commissioner, after going through the Environmental Protection Act (1986), noted that 'genetically engineered organism or cells are recognised by the government as an item potentially hazardous to public heath.
'It automatically follows that full compliance with these rules is a matter for public interest'.
Mahyco subsequently moved Delhi high court which passed an interim order in December 2007 staying the CIC order till the next hearing of the case on April 23.
2.Activists concerned over GM crop safety
New Delhi, March 26: Civil society groups concerned about the safety of genetically modified food crops feel that the companies involved in it have dubious track records of concealing safety data on GM crops.
National Campaign for People’s Right to Information member Nikhi Dey said, 'It is crucial that the safety of people is kept at the forefront of any new crops which can affect the lives of a billion-plus country.'
Civil society groups pointed out that Monsanto, a leading company in genetically engineered crops, has a dubious track record.
In March 2007, the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology analysed results of safety tests submitted by Monsanto to the European Food Safety Commission on its GE corn.
In the laboratory trials, informed Jai Krishna, a Greenpeace campaigner, rats, fed with GE corn produced by Monsanto, showed signs of toxicity in kidney and liver.
This finding was suppressed by Monsanto, he said.
It was found that Monsanto was using inappropriate statistical methods intentionally to arrive at favourable conclusions.
In France, as recently as February 2008, the French Parliament approved a presidential decree that revoked permission to the only GE corn that had been allowed so far in that country, making Franch GE-free.
3.GM crops at receiving end
Meet decides to exert pressure on the Government against releasing Bt brinjal, Bt rice, etc.
NALGONDA: Kavitha Kuruganti of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture has asked the Government to scrupulously side with the farmers at this critical juncture.
'The government seems to be promoting agri-business corporations rather than farmers. In fact, policy-makers want to emulate the western model of development and are seeking to displace crores of farmers from their land, culture and livelihood,' she said while addressing a meeting of farmers here on Wednesday.
Farmers at the meeting resolved against growing genetically modified crops.
They also decided to exert pressure on the government against releasing other GM crops like Bt brinjal, Bt rice, etc. An ad-hoc committee of 10 farmers -- District Vedika Committee -- was elected during the meeting held under the aegis of Sustainable Agriculture Farmers’ Forum (Susthira Vyavasaya Rythu Vedika).
Farmers like Kommu Narasaiah, Jayalakshmi, Gundi Kamalamma and Pandari reiterated that the vedika would ensure that farmers’ issues were addressed in a non-partisan manner.
They declared that they would fight against the anti-farmer policies of the government. Speaking on the occasion, K. Nimmaiah, Director, PEACE, said that going back to traditional agricultural practices and removing the dependence of farmers on external resources was the only way out. L V Prasad of Centre for World Solidarity elaborated the dangers posed to farmers’ rights from policies that are extending all-out support to SEZs.
4.Agricultural Scientist's Appeal To Save Farmers
A Rarest Event in the History of Agricultural Science, when a government scientist appeals his community of scientists against genetically modified (GM) Crops.
Hisar, India, 23 March 2008
A One Day Seminar on 'Modern Agricultural and Problems of Farmers' was organised under the aegis of Save Farmer Movement (Kisan Bachao Andolan) at 122, Sec. 15, Hisar, Haryana, India.
Dr N S Verma, a former Senior Professor at CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, India who is also a former Deputy-Director at Directorate of Extension Education, CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, India, chaired this seminar. The seminar was attended by reputed agricultural scientists and agricultural officers of the state, agricultural scientists and officers from private sector, medical practitioners, social and political leaders of the state, representatives of agricultural department of state, women representatives of district, national level organisations working on agriculture, local media and general public. Dr Rajeev Dikshit, who worked with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India on 'Missile Programme of India' was the Main Speaker at the seminar.
Appeal of Dr M S Narwal, a Senior Indian Agricultural Scientist, who is on rolls of a state funded agricultural university and is a former President of Teachers' Association of CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, Haryana, India
'I appeal to all agricultural scientists of the world to kindly help farmers in coming out of vicious circle of dangerous genetically modified (GM) crops like BT Cotton because reports have been coming for last about 10 years which say these crops are harmful for humans, animals, ecology and environment alike and manufacturers and promoters of these globally controversial GM crops have not been able to counter these reports and findings yet'.
Dr M S Narwal is a well-respected senior scientist in the discipline of Plant Breeding of Pearl Millet at CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, India.
Phone no. of Dr Mahavir Singh Narwal (Dr M S Narwal) is 09416961039 (from within India) and 00919416961039 (from outside India)
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