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GMO-FREE REGIONS: Kerala (India) says no to GM rice seeds test




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  KERALA SAYS NO TO GM RICE SEEDS TEST

SOURCE: Khaleej Times, India

AUTHOR: T. K. Devasia

URL:    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/subcontinent/2007/July/subcontinent_July556.xml&section=subcontinent&col=

DATE:   14.07.2007

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KERALA SAYS NO TO GM RICE SEEDS TEST

TRIVANDRUM — After Uttarakhand, Kerala has said a firm no to Genetically Modified (GM) seeds test in the state.

Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has conveyed the government stand in this regard in a letter to Federal Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. He has urged the federal minister to declare the state as ’GM-free zone’.

He said that the government would not allow the current move to permit a Maharashtra-based firm to do experimental cultivation of GM seeds in the northern district of Palghat, which is known as the rice bowl of Kerala.

The letter is in the wake of reports that the Federal government was in the process of approving a proposal by an agency under the Monsanto Corporation, a multi-national seed monopoly company, to conduct field trials of GM Rice after the field trials on Bt-Cotton in Maharashtra.

Ratnakaran has urged Pawar to stop the move as it would endanger the biodiversity of the state. Half of the geographical area of the state is part of the Western Ghats, which is a biodiversity hotspot.

The minister told a private television channel earlier that the planting of Bt-Cotton was mainly responsible for suicide by a large number of farmers in Vidharbha and Andhra Pradesh and added that the state government will not allow such things to happen in the state.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has also made known his opposition to GM seed trials in the state. He said that the state government will not allow it under any circumstances as it would be catastrophic to the local farmers.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  KERALA RESENTS MOVE TO TEST GM SEEDS

SOURCE: The Hindu, India

AUTHOR: Press Trust of India

URL:    http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/015200707140322.htm

DATE:   14.07.2007

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KERALA RESENTS MOVE TO TEST GM SEEDS

Thiruvananthapuram, July 14 (PTI): Kerala has expressed serious concern over the move to test Genetically Modified seeds in the state, especially its ’rice cellar’ Palakkad.

Taking note of reports that a Maharashtra-based firm is trying to enter the state for experimental cultivation of GM seeds, the state Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has written to the Centre seeking steps to declare the state as ”GM-free zone.”

The farmers outfits in Palakkad have come out against the move arguning that turning the fast-dwindling paddy base of the area a testing field for GM seeds would ultimately push the paddy growers into a ”serious trap” besides causing harming the ecology.

”We are opposing it as allowing GM seeds is fraught with a set of grim consequences for farmers, especially paddy cultivators,” said Muthalamthode Mani, General Secretary of Palakkad-based Desiya Karshaka Samajam.

”The ultimate result of such a scenario would be that the farmers would be driven to depend on the multinationals for seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and even to sell their produce, Mani said.

In his letter to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Ratnakaran wanted the Centre to stop any move to allow an agency said to be under the control of the Monsanto Corporation to test its seeds in the state.

This would endanger the biodiversity of the state, half of whose geographical area is part of the Western Ghats, which is a biodiversity hotspot, he said.

According to Mani, agents of the GM seeds had recently approached some of the farmers in Palakkad offering them incentives and concessions for testing the GM seeds in their fields.

”If the farmers use such seeds (dubbed as ’terminator seeds’ by campaigners), for every crop they would have to buy seeds afresh. They would be forced to follow cultivation methods, fertilisers and pesticides specified by the seed supplier. Finally, they would have to sell their produce to the same company, who would determine the price,” he said.

He said his organisation, indepndent of any political party, was trying to create awareness among the farmers about the issues involved.

The paddy cultivation in Palakkad was already in crisis due to a set of factors like increasing cost of production and fluctuation in prices. The paddy-base in the area had shrunk by one-third from about nine lakh hectares 30 years back. Palakkad was once known for its wide variety of paddy. But majority of them had disappeared due to introduction of hybrid varieties over the years. So far, the state agencies had failed to support the farmers to preserve them, Mani claimed.


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