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4-Patents: National "No-Patent Marches" launched in India



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The historic "Salt Satyagraha" (salt marches) were initiated by Gandhi and started on 05 March 1930 to protest against the colonisation of salt as an Indian resource. In line with these events, "Bija Satyagraha" are launched to protest against the modern colonisation of Indian's biological diversity by seed patents.


PRESS RELEASE								5 Mar 99

A NEW FREEDOM MOVEMENT AGAINST A NEW COLONISATION


On 5th March, 1999, the anniversary of "Salt Satyagraha", more than 1,500 groups nationwide joined to launch the "Bija Satyagraha". In North India, the "Bija Satyagraha" was launched at village Patala in Gaziabad District with a gathering of 500 people from all walks of life. Dr. Vandana Shiva launched the Bija Satyagraha with the inaugural show of a street play on "Seeds of Freedom".

The National Call for Bija Satyagraha was made at the sculpture of Gandhiji and eleven murtis at Sardar Patel Road and Wellington Crescent Road at 12:45 hrs. Some of the organisations that have joined Bija Satyagraha  gathered  to mark a collective commitment to defend our biodiversity and our food security. The broad coalition involved the Bija Satyagraha was represented by Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Samajvadi Abhiyan, National Federation of Indian Women, Forces, Sabla Sangh, Azadi Bachao Andolan, Delhi Pradesh Samajwadi Janata Party Women's Wing, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch,  Students of I.I.T. and JNU.

Carrying placards  saying, "No Bollgard No Terminator", "No Patents on Life", "Right to Food", "TPDS Samapth Karo - Sasthe Anaj ke Vyavastha Karo", "Naya Patent Kanun ki kilaf asahayog andolan", "Affordable and Safe Food is a Universal Right", "India will be Monsanto Free Zone", the satyagrahis sang songs of new freedom from powerful and irresponsible multinational corporations seeking to colonise Indian food and agriculture and Indian biodiversity.

Activists from Sabla Sangh raised slogans "Keth Hamara Beej Tumara Ye Kaisa Anyay Hai, Kaunsi Fasal Ham Boenge, Ye Hamara Adhikar Hai".  "Beej Hamara Patent Tumara Nahi Chalega, Nahi Chalega".

Speaking on the occasion,  Ms. Amarjit Kaur, General Secretary, NFIW highlighted the importance of indigenous seeds and our food system and cultural diversity.  She emphasized that new patent laws are denying our community and social rights on our seeds, our medicinal plants and our traditional knowledge and heritage.  

Shri Rabi Ray, former Lok Sabha Speaker and patron, Lok Shakti Abhiyan gave a call to all the responsible Parliamentarians to oppose the Patent (Amendment)  Ordinance, 1999 which is pending in the Parliament. He said it is unconstitutional and unethical. 

Shri Rishipal Ambawat of Bharatiya Kisan Union expressed the farmers determination to fight the new patent laws and never accept patenting and other monopolies on seed.

Ms. Beth Burrows, Director of Edmonds Institute, a leading U.S. activist against patents on life and genetic engineering who also participated in the Bija Satyagraha launch, stated that there should be no patents on life and they are opposing the same in their country.

Dr. Vandana Shiva who joined the Bija Satyagraha launch just in time having been delayed due to a car breakdown on her way from Patala village said, "The Bija Satyagraha is an expression of the collective will of the people of India to defend their biodiversity, their knowledge and their food security.  They will let nothing come in the way of these fundamental rights.  Just as Gandhiji had made  salt at Dandi to announce non-cooperation with the unjust British Salt Laws, the Bija Satyagraha is an announcement of people's non-cooperation with the unjust patent laws that make seed saving by farmers a crime and selling of sterile and hazardous genetically engineered seeds as rights of corporations. Through one year of Bija Satyagraha, grassroots actions will make  large areas of Indian agriculture MNC free, chemical free and patent free. This new freedom movement will not be stopped."

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For further details, please contact:

Navdanya
A-60, Hauz Khas, New Delhi - 110 016
Tel: 6968077 and 6853772   Fax: 6856795
Email: vshiva@giasdl01.vsnl.net.in

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