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8-Misc: Asian NGOs protest against GE rice



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TITLE:  Japan adds its Voice to the People's Caravan  
        "Citizens on the Move for Land and Food Without Poisons!"
SOURCE: Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific
DATE:   November 21, 2000

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


The People's Caravan 2000 - Land and Food Without Poisons!

Japan adds its Voice to the People's Caravan - "Citizens on the Move for 
Land and Food Without Poisons!"

Over 500 farmers and consumers marched today on the streets of Tokyo 
protesting the eminent planting of genetically engineered Roundup Ready 
Rice for commercial sale in Japan.

The National Rally against genetically engineered rice, principally 
organised by the Network for Safe and Secure Food and the Environment 
(NESSFE) is part the week long activities organised in Japan, linked to the 
People's Caravan - "Citizens on the Move for Land and Food Without 
Poisons!" - activities travelling across India, Bangladesh and the 
Philippines.

The "National Rally Against Genetically Engineered Rice" is a part of the 
"No to Genetic Engineering Food Campaign" launched on September 20 by 
NESSFE.

Mika Iba, Coordinator of NESSFE, said the Agrochemical TNC, Monsanto, had 
invested a lot of time and money in co-opting farmers into planting 
genetically engineered rice.

She said Japan is often looked at as a model for economic growth and 
development by other Asian Nations. At the same time the consumer movement 
in Japan has become strong.

If Monsanto is allowed to get a stronghold in the Japanese rice market, 
through farmer and consumer acceptance, this could set a precedence for the 
wide-scale planting of genetically engineered rice in the region. The 
concern is also over possible increase in the pesticide used. "We have to 
stop them!" Iba said.

The Monsanto product, glyphosate, is the active ingredient in Roundup 
herbicide (weed killer) used to control weeds. Monsanto claims that 
herbicide use on its Roundup Ready soyabeans most prominently grown in the 
United States (U.S), "is between 10% and 40% less than the amount presently 
used in conventional varieties."

However, according to research undertaken by the Pesticide Action Network 
Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), statistics from the US Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) show that expanded plantings of Roundup Ready soybeans 
in the U.S. in 1997 resulted in the use of glyphosate on soybeans 
increasing by some 72% to 14.9 million pounds or 6,759 tons. Furthermore, 
according to a survey from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics 
Service, the increased usage of several other high-volume herbicices 
contributed to a 29% increase in overall herbicide usage on soybeans.

The effect on human health and the environment from increased pesticide 
use, ultimately resulting in crop resistance to glyphosate, in turn 
producing harder to kill weeds, thereby encouraging the use of more 
pesticides, has never been adequately addressed by Monsanto or the biotech 
industry in general.

The concerns held by NESSFE reflect the groundswell of voices across Asia - 
from non- governmental organisations, small farmers, landless peasants, 
farm workers and anti-pesticide and genetic engineering advocates - 
strongly opposing the introduction of genetically engineered rice and the 
increasing corporate control of rice research and seed systems through out 
the region.

The People's Caravan - "Citizens on the Move for Land and Food without 
Poisons is currently on the move in Bangladesh, started in India on 
November 13, and culminates in the Philippines between November 26 - 30, 
with activities on November 30 commemorating "One Year Since Seattle".

In Bangladesh, the major thrust of the Caravan is to launch a farmers 
campaign against genetically engineered rice.

Farida Akhter, Executive Director of UBINIG (Policy Research for 
Development Alternatives) says many Asian countries like Bangladesh are 
rice producing countries with many rice varieties produced by the farmers 
themselves. "They do not need any company to intervene into their thousand 
year old production practice."

She said, "UBINIG urges all farmers in the rice producing and rice 
consuming countries of Asia to resist planting genetically engineered rice 
as it will mean an aggression on their sovereign rights to produce their 
own staple food. GE rice is harmful socially, economically, environmentally 
and also an attack on farmers sovereignty."

"Bangladeshi farmers will resist it by any means, we want farmers of all 
Asian countries to take a united position against genetically engineered 
rice," she said.

For more information contact:

PAN AP (Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific) Jennifer Mourin, 
Campaigns and Media Coordinator OR Sarah Hindmarsh, Programme Assistant 
Genetic Engineering Campaign. Tel: (60-4) 657-0271/656-038. Fax: (604) 657-
7445 E-mail: panap@panap.po.my or visit the People's Caravan Web site: 
www.poptel.org.uk/panap/caravan.htm

NESSFE E-mail: mika@mb.kcom.ne.jp




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