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8-Misc: Indian farmers' jury voted against GM crops

----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  Indian farmers' jury verdict on GM crops
SOURCE: Action Aid India, press release
DATE:   March 13, 2000

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Indian farmers' jury verdict on GM crops

A "citizens' jury" of Indian farmers has voted overwhelmingly against 
the introduction of GM crops. The jury of 14 farmers, ranging from a 
landless labourer to a prosperous cultivator of Monsanto's GM-seeds, 
cast nine votes to four (1) against sowing GM seed on their land.

The jury heard evidence from experts "witnesses" - including 
Monsanto, top Indian scientists and Indian Government officials - on 
the pros and cons of GM crops. The four-day "trial" was held under a 
tamarind tree in BG Kere village, Karnataka, India.

The jurors delivered their "No" verdict to the question: "Would you 
sow the new seed proposed by the Department of Biotechnology 
[Government of India] and Monsanto on your fields?" The farmers 
demanded that GM companies ensure that GM seed posed no harm to the 
environment and livestock. They also insisted that GM crops must come 
with a certificate from the Managing Director of the concerned 
company that would protect them from any potential risk to their 
livelihood. GM should be released only after 5-10 years of field 
trials in which farmers shall be involved, not only in yield 
assessments but in safety, environmental and other aspects.

Harsh Mander, director of ActionAid India, who organised the jury, 
said: "The juryŐs verdict clearly demonstrates that once they have 
heard the arguments for and against this new technology, most farmers 
feel the risks of GM crops are too high." The jury comprised a cross-
section of farmers from across Karnataka state - the result of 6 
months of research by biologist and citizen-participation researcher, 
Dr Tom Wakeford, from the University of East London, UK.

He said: "Even the most illiterate and marginal farmers on the jury 
showed a sophisticated understanding of the potential risks and 
benefits of new agricultural technologies. No-one can claim their 
decision was un-informed."

For further details, contact Paul Collins in ActionAid press office 
on: 0171 281 4101

Or Satya Murty, Co-ordinator, Food Rights Campaign, ActionAid India 
on: +91 98 440 53543 

(1) one ballot paper was invalid

Further notes for editors overleaf:


Notes for editors:
Summary details of the members of the Indian Farmer Jury
 1. Mr Borojjappa, 55 years old, BG Kere, Molakalmur Taluk, 
    Chitradurga District, KA. He farms 4.5 acres of dryland, out of
    which 2.5 acres are irrigated, and 2 acre is rain-fed. His crops
    are onion, ragi, and jowar. He has 4 cross-breed cows, 1 pair
    of bullocks. He only has primary education.
 2. Mr Chinnappa, 48 years old, Nellumaru, Dankanikota Taluk, 
    Dharmapuri, TN. He farms 4 acres of rain-fed dryland, growing
    ragi, pulses and rice. He has 4 cross-breed cows, 5 children. 
    He was educated up to secondary school.
 3. Ms Kalamma, 52 years old, Kootur, Dankanikota Taluk, Dharmapuri, 
    TN. She is illiterate and farms 1.5 acres of rain-fed dryland, 
    growing ragi and rice. In her backyard she grows banana, coconut, 
    papaya, eucalyptus, silver oak. She has 1 pair bullocks, 20
    chicks, and 3 children. She supplements income by doing labour
    for others.
 4. Ms Thimmaka, 58 years old, Balledoddi, Dankanikota Taluk, 
    Dharmapuri, TN. She has 0.5 acres of rain-fed dryland on which
    ragi, jowar, pulses, castor oilseeds are grown. She is illiterate
    and has one child. She has half an acre of community land. She
    also goes out for labour.
 5. Ms Ashwathamma, 50 years old, Chandapura, Anekal Taluk, Bangalore 
    District, KA. She is a farmer of 8 acres and President of local
    Gram Panchayat. Grows ragi, pulses and has 3 children. Completed
    secondary school education.
 6. Mr Ganesh, 34 years old, Chakkodabylu, Thirathelli Taluk, Shimoga 
    District, KA. He farms 3 acres, growing arecanut & banana, 
    pepper, paddy. He designed a low-cost water-lifting machine as a
    rural domestic technology. Educated to 20 yrs.
 7. Mr Sakrappa, 45 years old, Kolagal, Bellary Taluk, Bellary 
    District, KA. He is illiterate and farms 5 acres of rain-fed
    dryland - 2 with chilli-peppers, 2 with paddy and has 4 children.
 8. Ms Narsamma, 66 years old, Haragadde, Anekal Taluk, Bangalore 
    District, KA. Illiterate, she farms 2.5 acres of land with ragi, 
    pulses, jowar & rice. 0.25 acres backyard, vegetables. She has 4 
    cross-breed cows. 20 chicken, 6 children.
 9. Ms Pushpa, 42 years old, Muthalanur, Anekal Taluk, Bangalore 
    District, KA. She farms 50 acres 12 are dryland, 38 acres 
    irrigated where she grows ragi, sorghum, pulses, fruit (sapota,
    banana) coconut & fodder for her own dairy. African teak, maize,
    grass, 15 cross breed cows. Educated to 20 yrs.
10. Ms Nargaveni, 31 years old, Illalige Village, Bangalore District. 
    KA. She has 3 acres - ragi, pulses, jowar, 3 cross breed cows, 10 
    chickens, 5 sheep, 1 child. Completed secondary school education.
11. Ms Lakshamamma, 34 years old, Umunapur, Medak District, AP. 
    Illiterate, she farms 1.75 acres, where she grows sorghum, dhals
    and millet, paddy. 1 cross breed cow, 2 children.
12. Mrs Surmangala, 46 years old, BG Kere, Molakalmur Taluk, 
    Chitradurga District, KA. Educated to 20 yrs, and has 2 children.
    She farms 64 acres organically, using a large number of borewells
    and drip irrigation. Crops include coconut, coffee, guava, banana
    and tamarin.
13. Mr Shrivatsa, 33 years old, Chakkodabylu Thirathelli Taluk,
    Shimoga, District, KA. He is a science graduate. Eight acres, 3 
    of arecanut. 5 acres paddy farms 3 acres with crops including 
    intercultivated vanilla (for export) 0.75 acres.
14. Mr Shanka Koppa, 70 years old, Adur, Hannegal Taluk, Haveri 
    District, KA. He farms 14 acres with cotton and his land formed 
    part of Monsanto's trial of Bt cotton

Witnesses who gave evidence to the Farmers Jury included:
Aruna Kumar, Krishi Prayoga Pariwara ("Farmers Who Experiment"), 
  Thirathelli, Karnataka
Dr P K Ghosh, Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Government of 
  India, New Delhi, Jayanand, Director, ACTIVE (NGO), Khammam, Andhra 
Krishna Prasad, Project Associate, Green Foundation, Bangalore
Dr Laksmi Sita, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and 
  Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Dr T M Munjunath, Director, Research & Development, Monsanto India, 
P V Satheesh, Board Member, Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad

Other participants included:
Edward Cross: Farmer and Member of Governments Advisory Committee on 
  Genetic Releases to the Environment.
Archie Montgomery: Council member of National Farmers Union, and head 
  of it's Biotechnology Working Group.
D.Satya Murty: is a senior officer of the Indian Administrative 
  Service, the organisation comprising India's highest ranking civil 
  servants. He has ten years experience in projects aimed at 
  the livelihoods of the rural poor. He has focussed on the means by 
  which the poor can participate in decisions affecting their 
  futures. He is Food Rights Co-ordinator for ActionAid India and was
  the panel's facilitator.
Dr Michel Pimbert: Research Associate, International Institute for 
  Environment and Development, London and Visiting Fellow, Institute 
  for Development Studies, University of Sussex. He was commissioned 
  by ActionAid as the project's independent evaluator.
Dr Tom Wakeford: Lecturer in the Faculty of Science and Health, 
  University of East London, UK, and a member of the Department of 
  Trade and Industry's Public Consultation on the Biosciences 
  Advisory Group. Visiting Fellow at India's National Centre for
  Biological Sciences, and advisor to ActionAid.


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