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[genet-news] CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVITIES: Tamil Nadu (India) farmers protest against field trials of BT corn

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Sindh Today, India

AUTHOR: Asian News International, India


DATE:   02.04.2009

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Coimbatore, Apr 2 (ANI): Over 150 protestors were arrested here today as they blocked the roads and rallied in front of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, demanding the university to stop genetically modified corn field trials.

According to farmers, the introduction of advanced BT corn in the state would affect them in the long run.

Explaining the ill effects of the BT corn, S Vellaiyan, President, Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders Association, said, ?The introduction of BT Corn will spoil the natural farming practices of the farming community in Tamil Nadu.?

?The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University is now in the process of conducting field trials for an American private company called Monsanto. If this genetically modified BT Corn is introduced then the food habits and system will change and if it is consumed it will lead to serious health implications,? he said.

?The women will suffer from infertility and we will have to depend upon America for seeds. This will affect the farmers and the traders who depend on agriculture products. Safe food alliance and Tamil Nadu Traders Association has taken this initiative to stop such field trials in India,? added Vellaiyan.

The activists from Green peace and Safe Food Alliance also joined the protesting farmers, and shouted slogans against the university for supporting MNCs like Montaso.

Stella, a Green peace activist said that BT corn would have serious health implications, which were proved by research.

?We came to know that the University is having a field trial secretly for BT corn. It?s a genetically modified corn and researches have shown that it has serious health implications, which leads to hyper allergies and organ damage. A number of organisations under safe food alliance had requested the university to destroy this field trail,? said Stella.

BT corn is a variant of maize, genetically altered to express the bacterial BT toxin, which is poisonous to insect pests. In the case of corn, the pest is the European corn borer.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: Greenpeace India, India

AUTHOR: Press Release


DATE:   23.03.2009

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KOLHAPUR, India ? On ?Shaheed Diwas? marked across India in the honour of the martyrdom of revolutionary freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, hundreds of farmers from all across Maharashtra came to Kolhapur to protest against the open air experiment of Monsanto?s GM corn being conducted in the B farm of Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV) here. The peaceful sit-in ended when the university officials here assured the activists that all pending concerns with regard to the trial would be responded to in a special meeting convened on the 2nd of April and if no satisfactory responses can be provided, the field trial will be destroyed by the university.

This is the first time that Monsanto, the largest American seed transnational, has applied directly for field trials of GM crops in India and so far, Indians have seen it as a trait seller with Indian farmers paying billions of rupees in the name of technology fees for Bt Cotton. Protestors condemned the Indian government?s nexus with criminal corporations like Monsanto while putting aside the interests of the aam aadmi (common citizen). They demanded that political parties should pay heed to the growing democratic resistance against unsafe food and corporate takeover of our farming and asked all parties to state their stand on the issue immediately.

Addressing the protestors, N D Patil, well known farmers? leader said, ?The government is shamelessly siding with big MNCs like Monsanto and neglecting the interests of farmers and consumers. Where is the need for a herbicide-tolerant GM corn in this country? Why are tax payers? funds being spent in a public sector body like the state agriculture university, to support the research of a profit-hungry corporation like Monsanto? If the agriculture university has any loyalty left for the Indian farmer, it should immediately stop such field trials. It is clear that GM crops are hazardous and unneeded and the Government of India should stop pushing this technology on all of us. I also call upon all political parties vying for the votes of common citizens to clearly state their stand on GM in our food and farming ? we will know clearly which side are you on?.

Joining him was Vijay Jawandhia of Shetkari Sanghatan. The veteran farmers? leader, who had witnessed the distress produced by Bt Cotton, India?s only approved GM crop, said, ?Monsanto is a criminal corporation known to have sued or sent to jails scores of farmers elsewhere for doing what farmers around the world have done for millennia ? saving their seeds! This is a corporation documented to have bribed officials to get regulatory approvals. This is a corporation which has earned crores of rupees in the name of royalty in India while thousands of Bt Cotton farmers have committed suicides. On Shaheed Diwas, we should remember Bhagat Singh?s words, which hold very true today ? let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist as long as the Indian toiling masses and the natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites. In this neo-colonial era where parasites like Monsanto and its supporters in the government masquerade as our well-wishers, this i
 s the time to start the new war of independence?.

Earlier in the month, Col Vikram Bokey, Chairman, Maharashtra organic Farmers Federation, wrote to the Vice Chancellor of the Agriculture University here, citing evidence of the negative impacts of GM crops in general, GM Corn in particular, Monsanto?s criminal record, negative social and health impacts of herbicides like Round-Up etc. and demanded an immediate response from the University on the concerns raised before proceeding further on the trial. ?We did not receive a response from the University?, he said.

?GM corn as well as herbicides are known to cause several adverse health and environmental effects. Another fundamental concern is about herbicides displacing the agricultural employment potential for farm women. We are here to assert that we do not need such technologies. As consumers, our right to safe food cannot be violated and we cannot be made into lab rats in this experiment?, added Col. Vikram Bokey, Chairperson of MOFF.

The protest rally was addressed by Shri A.B Patil, the state vice president of Kisan Sabha of CPI[M], Sathish Bansode,CYDA,Pune, Kavitha Kuruganti, Kheti Virasat Mission, Sanjay Bhagat of YUVA, Rajesh Krishnan of Greenpeace India etc. amongst others. Speakers pointed out that the Supreme Court appointee into the apex regulatory body, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, had asked for a moratorium on all GMO releases in India after studying the current regulatory regime and the serious lacunae therein.

                                  PART 3

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SOURCE: Safe Food Alliance, India



DATE:   30.03.2009

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Coimbatore: 30th March 2009: A conference of all the Farmers associations in the state is being organised in Coimbatore on the 3rd of April against Genetically modified crops in Agriculture by The Safe Food Alliance.

Genetically modified (GM) foods have been proved to be risky and can cause health hazards like allergies to serious problems retarded growth, inflammation and liver and kidney toxicity. A recent study has even predicted that long term consumption of GM foods like Bt corn can lead to serious reproductive problems and eventually to infertility. GM crops also are unanimously opposed by all farmers unions across India, as they can contaminate the agri-biodiversity developed over thousands of years, while increasing corporate control over seed and imparing soil fertility.

It is also known that despite the issues surrounding GM crops, the Tamil Nadu agricultural university has been found to conduct field trials for the multinational company Monsanto on its own land - free of cost. On March 16th, the safe food alliance had organised a rally against the continued allegiance of the University to the MNC Monsanto. On the same day, representatives form more than 11 farmers organisaitons, Tamil Nadu vanighar sangangalin peravai and Greenpeace had delivered a set of recommendations to the University.

?Despite our representation, the university has not given any responsible answer so far. In this juncture, we have decided to call for an all farmer organization conference to consolidate the opinions of all the farmers representatives in the state?, said Mr. Vazhukkuppaarai Balu, President of Tamizhagha Vivasaaya Sangam. ?A decision to ban GM crops is expected to be adopted in this conference after detailed deliberations within farmer organizations?. He added.

Mr.N.S.Palanisamy Ex. MLA, of the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam (Non political), said that ?Agricultural research in India has never been in favour of farmers. The TNAU always been mis-prioritising its research and its seeds have never been adopted by farmers all these years. Now it has started becoming outsourcing agents for anti farmer agenda of Multinational companies.? ?We are going to get a unanimous resolution among farmers of the state against this university.? He added.

?The upcoming election is an ideal platform to put forward the demand for a safe food without Gm crops. All parties should come together in banning GM crops and should mention it in their manifestos. Members of the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peravai and their families, will choose the political parties that that bring a GM Free India proclamation in their manifesto? said Mr. Vellaiyan the president of the Peravai.

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) in its manifesto, that has been released on 27th of this month, has declared that it will insist on long-term research before the introduction of GM crops and that Agricultural universities should not be allowed to carry out research on such crops along with the private sector.

Mr. Eashwaran, state deputy organizer of the Engineers association of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), who was present at the conference, said ?Our General Secretary Mr. Vaiko, has taken a position against GM crops?. He further added that ?It has already been stated by the outgoing union Health minister, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss that GM crops in India have not been tested to be safe. Thus, we would not support the approval of GM crops without long term safety tests, and without assessing the impacts on farmers.?

Mr. Sundararajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal and Mr. Selvam.of the Erode Organic Farmers? Collective- part of the Safe Food Alliance, were also present during the interaction.

                                  PART 4

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SOURCE: Citizen Matters, India

AUTHOR: Pulkit Parikh


DATE:   02.04.2009

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NGOs organise a festival at Lalbagh to create awareness on genetically modified food.

Brinjal, badanekayi, the king of vegetables comes with its own crown! Let?s revisit the world of Brinjal and explore it?s amazing diversity! It is a celebration of the diversity of brinjals and to contemplate our role in protecting it. Good Food, healthy food, safe food... should be a primary concern for all of us.

The Brinjal festival to be held at Lalbagh is an attempt to bring a better consciousness and respect for our rich diverse food. Genetically Modified (GM) food crops pose a grave threat to the diversity and to our health as consumers. Let us all make informed choices about food, one of most fundamental necessities.

Earlier last week, on 29th March, volunteers from AID Bangalore and Sahaja Samruddha carried out an awareness drive on the hazardous health effects of Genetically Modified (GM) foods, right outside Forum mall at Koramangala.

Two volunteers sported a unique Brinjal outfit to draw more attention from the passers-by. The response was quite encouraging, with many youngsters happily sharing their email ids to know more and keep abreast of the campaign?s activities. A large majority of them were found entirely unaware of what GM foods are, let alone their consequences.

The event this Sunday will include:

- Food stalls with brinjal specials for you to savour

- Cooking competition for innovative brinjal dishes (12:15 PM)

- Drawing competition and more fun events for kids (2:45 PM)

- Brinjal diversity exhibition showcasing more than 30 varieties of brinjal

- Screening of Mahesh Bhatt?s film Poison on the Platter

- Awareness campaign about GM foods and the risk to our health and environment. Meet scientists, farmers, doctors and Ayurveda practitioners

Organized by

- Association for India?s Development (AID)- Bangalore

- Sahaja Samrudha

- Samvada

- Jaivika Krishi Society (JKS)

- Mysore Horticulture Society (MHS)



European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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