GENET archive


9-Misc: "GMO free zone India"-project launched

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Greens ask India to keep out genetics from Europe export
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B. Sharma
DATE:   3 Apr 2005

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Greens ask India to keep out genetics from Europe export

NEW DELHI, APRIL 3: "If you want to keep your exports to Europe up, keep
out genetically modified organisms." This was the message conveyed at the
conclusion of the two-day India-Europe Dialogue on GMOs and Biosafety in
Delhi on Saturday.

This dialogue was organised jointly by EU-India Small Projects Facility,
the UK-based Gaia Foundation, Greenpeace International, Friends of the
Earth International and the Delhi-based Navdanya Trust. Interestingly,
officials like Dan Leskien of the German Federal Ministry of Consumer
Protection, Food and Agriculture were present in the discussions.

The Greenpeace International released a book entitled EU Markets: No
Market for GM -- Labelled Food in Europe. Dr Steve Emmott said: "Among EU
members, Spain is the only country which grows GM crops i.e. two
varieties of GM corn. Recently, Poland and Hungary have banned entry of
GM crops and food."

Greet Ritsema of the Friends of the Earth, Europe said: "Under the
European law GM foods, GM animal feed and GM seeds have to be labelled.
European consumers are very sensitive to the adverse effects of GM food
and feed. Even if they are labelled, the consumers do not accept it. If
India decides to grow GM crops and if it intends to export to Europe, it
has to label its products and ungergo traceability."

He urged that India should introduce labelling and traceability norms, if
it intends to continue its exports to Europe. He also suggested
introduction of a liability regime in India whereby the seed companies
will be liable to compensate farmers for losses on account of GM crop
cultivation. He said that this is necessary as India is fast adopting GM

Eric Gall of Greenpeace Europe said: "Indian farmers should also be aware
that there is widespread rejection of GM foods amongst consumers and food
companies in Europe." "We will soon start generating awareness among
farmers. A team of Andhra Pradesh farmers will shortly visit Punjab to
convince them about the failure of Bt cotton," Dr Vandana Shiva of
Navdanya Foundation stated.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  MNCs, designers join lobbies against GM crops
SOURCE: UNI / Deepika Global, India
DATE:   3 Apr 2005

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MNCs, designers join lobbies against GM crops

New Delhi, Apr 3 (UNI) Western Multi-National Companies and Indian
Fashion designers are to join hands with environmental activists to make
the country a 'Genetically Modified Organism -- Free Zone'.

The campaign for making India a GMO-free zone will begin in two months,
according to Indian environmentalists.

Indian activists have already asked American Sports goods giant Nike,
international lifestyle brand Espirit and several domestic fashion
designers the big question--If we launch a campaign, will you refuse to
procure GM products for manufacturing your products? ''The answer was
Yes. They will come on board when we start our campaign,'' says Vandana
Shiva of Delhi-based environmental group Navdanya.

The Indian lobbies, who have raised fears of health hazard from GMO, will
be supported in their action by European anti-GMO groups like Friends of
the Earth and Greenpeace Europe. The campaign will also be targeting the
Monsanto-owned GM crop BT cotton, presently being cultivated in six
Indian states.

According to Dr Shiva, the campaign will be in three phases.

In the first phase, a ''People's Commission'' will be set up to spread
awareness about the health and environmental hazards from GMO. The year-
long phase also plans to bring back attention on farmers' suicides in
Karnataka and Kerala last year.

The second phase will be, in fact, an extension of the global movement
for a GMO-free zone. ''Presently, about 30,000 zones in Europe have been
categorised as GMO-free zones,'' says Dr Shiva.

''In India, thousands of villages have already taken pledge not to plant
GM seeds.'' The first genetically modified crop to be introduced in India
three years ago, BT Cotton is cultivated in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra
Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. A month ago, six new
varieties of transgenic cotton developed by domestic seed companies were
allowed for cultivation in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The case for further extension of the GM crop in these six states will
come up before the Genetical Engineering Approval Committee of the
Ministry of Environment on April 13.

The campaign will focus in its last phase on making the GMO industry
shift its base through intensifying protests. The case against Mahyco,
the Indian subsidiary of multinational GM seeds company Monsanto Mahyco,
in the Supreme Court will also receive the attention in this phase,
according to Dr Shiva.

The lobbies also want to direct their campaign at the government to force
it enact laws to label anything that is genetically engineered. ''The
labelling will help consumers identify whether the food they are buying
is GM food or not,'' says Geert Ritsema of Friends of Earth Europe, which
led a successful campaign to introduce a labelling law in Europe last year.

Besides legislations, the environmental groups also want facilities for
conducting tests on GM foods to find out the risks.

                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Bt cotton causes losses in south
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B Sharma
DATE:   3 Apr 2005

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Bt cotton causes losses in south

NEW DELHI, APRIL 3: Apart from civil society organisations in the
country, the performance of Bt cotton in 2004 has come under severe
criticisms from some scientists. Founder-director of the Hyderabad-based,
Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Dr Pushpa M Bhargava,
alleged that farmers in south India have suffered heavy losses on account
of cultivation of Bt cotton.

Speaking to FE, Dr Bhargava, who is a Padma Bhushan awardee and also the
chairman of Avon Organics, alleged that there are reports that apart from
approved varieties of Bt cotton, unapproved varieties of several
genetically modified crops (GM) are being sold to farmers.

There are reports of terminator seeds being sold to farmers, he said,
adding: "One farmer came to me with some samples of sterile seeds and
wanted me to test whether these are terminator seeds." Dr Bhargava urged
the Centre to wake up to these happenings and take urgent steps to set up
seed testing laboratories for testing unapproved GM seeds. He said that
such tests should also be carried out to check the plorification of
spurious seeds.

He alleged that the recent amendments to the Seeds Act is designed to
strengthen the monopoly of multinational seed companies in the seed
sector. He urged the Centre not to allow any multinational company in the
seed sector. If the multinationals are allowed to enter the country's
seed sector it would spell disaster as they would be controlling
country's agriculture, he observed.

Dr Bhargava also alleged that attempts are being made to develop more
hybrid seeds, so that farmers cannot save seeds for reuse in the next
season. "Why can't scientists developed high yielding varieties of
conventional seeds, by using the resources stored in gene banks?" he quipped.

"There is a lack of transparency in the approval process of Bt cotton.
Revelant data are not yet placed in public domain. No tests have been
conducted to verify the consumption effects of Bt plants on cattle. Bt
toxin may have some undesired effects on bacteria present in rumen in
cattle," he stated.

A field study conducted by Afsar H Jafri on behalf of Navdanya and the
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology has releaved poor
performance of Bt cotton in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The
Secunderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture under the
leadership of Dr GV Ramajanevulu has revealed poor performance of Bt
cotton in Andhra Pradesh. Studies conducted by Greenpeace India and Gene
Campaign reveal similar results.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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