Genetically Modification of crops is an untested technology, which, in the worst case, can be inconceivably calamitous. Alllowing it into our food chain would be signing up for being a lab rat. Let’s unite in shutting the door on GM crops.

Posts tagged ‘Bt cotton’

Stormy meet over the Bt.Brinjal issue.

The supporters of Bt brinjal, who entered the hall shouting “We want Bt
brinjal” were soon engulfed by those who turned out in 1000’s to oust the
Monsanto company and its Bt brinjal. Masses of farmer groups, activists,
non-governmental organizations, and even consumers all  raised as one ‘Bt
brinjal go back’ and ‘Monsanto go back’.

The presiding Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh, immediately took over the floor,
heard from all, first the farmers, then the scientists.  After which he
heard from representatives of various agricultural universities, doctors
both Ayurvedic and Allopathic and finally from the NGOs working for
agriculture. Of the 35 farmers and farmer unions, 17 were for GM while 18
others opposed it. Among the 27 Scientists and Researchers who spoke, 18
supported the anti GM cause. The five speakers of the NGO section also
joined the cry against GM. The Students and Consumers felt ignored as they
were not given an opportunity to voice their opinion.

From the farmers group the first speaker was Kodihalli Chadrasekhar of the
Raitha Sangha, he said that Bt Brinjal had not been assessed for its very
need. He stresses that no one can claim that it is to address food security
concerns. Further he questioned the necessity for introduction of Bt
brinjal, when safer, affordable, sustainable and farmer-controlled
alternatives existed for pest management.  He also pointed out that the
government which did not have any policy with respect to the development of
GM crops, allowed the entry of Bt Brinjal, very well knowing that it will
kill the diversity of Brinjal. No GM crop has been allowed to be cultivated
in any region of the world which is its Centre of Origin and India being the
centre of origin of brinjal should not be any different. Later Puttannaiah
said that there were more than 2500 varieties of brinjals, each having its
own unique flavour and used in different specialities, in India diversity in
traditional food preparations exists because of availability in the variety
of brinjal, so the Bt would be advantageous to a country like US having a
narrow diversity.

Ms. Sunanda, a woman farmer asked the Minster if any of the women farmers
had approached the government requesting Bt crops, so why is the Government
keen on introducing the same.

The farmers who spoke in favour cited pesticides as a serious problem and
had to spray atleast 20 to 30 times and this had ruined them. It was the
introduction of Bt cotton that has benefited them and the pesticide spray
has been reduced to 3-4 sprays. It was the pesticide that was responsible
for farmer suicides and Bt cotton saved them.  So the Government should not
delay the introduction of Bt brinjal.

The first speaker in the Scientist category was very rude in his
presentation and immediately the Minster apologized on behalf of the
scientist. He said that Scientist should not be anti democratic and science
should teach humility.  He especially asked scientists and experts to speak
not from a political position, but to share their findings and expertise to
the general public. Interesting was the objection for introduction of Bt.
Brinjal raised by an Ex Monsanto Director. He said that the Bt crop after 5
generations would develop resistance to the pest and led to outbreak of new
pests for which the pesticide sprays would increase simultaneously
increasing income of the manufacturing company.

Prof G K Veeresh, former VC of UAS, Bangalore said that there should be a
delay in introduction of Bt Brinjal into the country for another 10 to 15
years as the bio-safety had not been established. Several tests should be
conducted to resolve doubts raised by various experts on GM foods crops.

Scientist from Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Bangalore said
that the team has developed a Bt brinjal variety using Bt gene and the
trails are in advanced stage. He also pointed out that the trails proved
satisfactory. Sugada Mohandas of the same Institute pointed out that there
was a misapprehension about Bt crops regarding the safety on consumption and
also on the seeds. She said that the crop was developed in such a way that
the farmers need not buy seeds for every sowing.

The team from UAS, Dharwad with the Vice Chancellor present there said that
the university with technology made available by Mahyco has been conducting
research on bt. Brinjal from 2002 and has cultivated six varieties of
pest-resistant brinjals.  Usually about 40 to 50 chemical sprays were
required to control the fruit-shoot borer pest, but for the Bt crop which
has been developed controls the targeted pest with just one or two sprays.
There would be no shoot infestations in the Bt varieties that are being
cultivated by the University. He said that the Bt brinjal will be a
marketable product and would also fetch a good market price whereas the non
Bt brinjal that the farmer is now producing hardly fetches him Rs.2, for all
the hard work put into producing brinjal is not worth it as the produce
doesnot remain fresh for more than two to three days. There is much
discussion on the Cry protein of Bt crops saying it was harmful for human
consumption, but this has absolutely safe on human beings and non-target
pests, he added.

Dr. Vijayan of Kerala Biodiversity Board posed several questions to the
Minister on the benefit of introduction of Bt brinjal, on the safety of the
Bt crop, its impact on biodiversity and so on. He said that many scientists
in the country were expressing their deep concern over Bt Brinjal. He
stressed that several eminent scientists abroad had pointed out that
independent and rigorous scientific evaluation of Bt Brinjal has not taken
place and that this GM vegetable should not be allowed entry into India. He
concluded on “why the Bt brinjal has to be tested on Indians”

During the proceedings, Dr. A. S. Ananda, Chairman of the Organic Farming
Mission of Government of Karnataka made a categorical assertion that the
entire consultation mechanism was a farce as MoEF had dropped 190 plants
from the protection of the Biodiversity Act.  This included Brinjal and
almost all endemic varieties that constitute the genetic wealth of India.
Mr. Ramesh later claimed that the fact that these 190 plants had been
removed from the protection accorded by the Biodiversity Act was only to
facilitate their exports. Dr. Ananda also said that the state Government
will not allow cultivation of the genetically modified brinjal or any of the
GM crops as the safety of the produce was not yet established.

Mr. Sridhar of Thanal, Kerala said that it has been documented in the case
of Bt Cotton that chemical fertilizer use had gone up, even as pesticide use
profile had changed. There was more increase in the volume of usage of
chemicals. The pesticide shift was of high value with the overall cost
incurred on pesticides being quite high in Bt Cotton. This does not augur
well for sustainability of farming resources and livelihoods even as cost of
cultivation is going to increase for farmers with technologies like GM
seeds.

Claude Alvare s – spoke about Bio-piracy and asked the University team on
how they had accessed the seeds of indigenous varieties of brinjal without
the permission of the farmers. He also said that for organic farmers, GM
crops spell a bleak and grim future. Organic farming certification standards
do not permit the use of GMOs. Genetically modified agriculture is replacing
farmer-generated seeds with corporate owned seeds.

One of the farmers questioned the morality of the Government because on one
hand they are promoting organic farming and on the other hand introducing
GM, which will bear effect on the organically produced crops due cross
pollination. This will thereby destroy the bio-diversity of the region. He
stressed that once the bt brinjal is commercialised, then there will be no
mechanism by which a consumer could distinguish between a regular brinjal
and GM brinjal, thereby killing the consumer choice forever.

The Consultation witnessed the participation of former Prime Minister Mr. H.
D. Devegowda and Jnanpita awardee, Dr. U. R. Ananthamurthy, who was anti to
introduction of Bt brinjal. After hearing a large number of farmers,
scientists, doctors, representatives of NGOs for more than three hours, the
Minister said that he would announce his decision on the first GM food crop
in the country on February 10. He said that “My decision won’t be influenced
by any quarter, including scientists, NGOs, agriculture universities or
Monsanto. Neither is there any pressure from the PMO nor the Prime Minister.
My decision will be fair and judicious, and will be based purely on the
outcome of consultations. My decision would make some happy and the rest
unhappy, but I will surely decide in the favour of the country,” he said.

Brinjal Festival

Association of India’s Development (AID) along with Sahaja Samrudha, Samvadha and Jaivika Krishika Socieity had organized a unique ‘Brinjal Festival’ on April 5th with the aim of generative public awareness for Genetically Modified food, most importantly Bt Brinjal which is going to be the first GM food crop for India.

The festival which was inaugurated by national award winning actress Tara went wonderfully well, drawing huge consumer crowd. The festival’s prime attraction was the screening of movie ‘Poison on the Platter‘ along with screening of another Animation movie `The story of Uday and Balu’ (that gives overview of  ill effects GM foods) for kids. There was also a cooking competition organized in which had approximately 23 participants who introduced variety of delicious Brinjal dishes. Around 120 schoolchildren came up with novel ideas and expressed them on canvass.  The festival was also accompanied with talks by Ayurveda doctors and nutritional experts to the audience.

Some photographs of the festival can be found here.

Press Coverage:

Post-event:

Pre-event:

Introduction

  • No GM food for direct consumption Is available in any supermarket in the EU.
  • As a food consumer, there’s no way you can differentiate between normal food and genetically modified food.
  • GM foods that are under question are made by crossing the animal genes with the plant genes (unlike hybrid seeds, that are made by crossing genes of two plant varieties).

Here are at least 10 reasons to say no to Bt-Brinjal – ACT NOW!

An Open letter to Health Minister Sriramulu

Open letter to  Health Minister Sriramulu

By A.R.Manikanth, well known journalist  

Sir,

Now you must be busy with assembly activities in Belgaum.  How to react to the complaints/queries put forth by the opposition on the Government?  How to impress upon MLAs from those parties to join the ruling party. How to expand the mining activities in Belgaum? At the same time you might also be planning various efforts to please general public and also senior people of the state.

But Sir, at the same time tension has been spread over the reports that GM food is entering Karnataka.  It is also said that Brinjal, the low-cost vegetable and also the commonly used among all the households across all sections and classes is the victim. Environmentalists, experts, farmers and all those who have learnt about the ill-effects of bt varieties have firmly said that ‘Karnataka doesn’t want GM food’. The have also initiated ‘I’m no lab rat’ campaign.  They have taken up this issue and protested in front of Vidhana Soudha and also your house. Protesters also demanded a statement against GM food from the Health Minister.

But Sir, You have not made up your mind to go public with a statement. Is it because you are not aware of the proposed health risks due to GM food or do you feel that it is important to support the projects of multinational companies with all necessary infrastructure than supporting the farming community. 

At this juncture I would try to explain briefly about the background of GM food, the concept, is objective, beneficiaries of spreading the GM food, those who are susceptible, its impact on nature’s health including that of human being, and lastly the problem related to brinjal.  I feel that at least after reading this write-up you would decide and make your stand public.

As you know, since long time, farmers have been growing brinjal in their farms and also backyard. Women always had one use or the other from this ‘costwise cheap’ vegetable, for preparing vangibath (brinjal rice), curry and a variety of dishes based on the variety and also the freshness. Udupi’s Gulla Sambar is as famous as North Karnataks’a  ‘Eneegai’ . When vegetable prices rise high for several reasons like festival season, drought, reduced supply etc, brinjal used to remain as the first priority as its price never changed significantly.  It is also believed to be a vegetable which needs minimum input.

Do you know what has happened? These companies are assuring that GM food will be a solution to India’s hunger problem. They are chosen our own brinjal for their experiments and are saying that they will do the field trials in Karnataka. If we agree for this bt experiment to be done in the state, it will be disastrous.

After all who are those who are ‘committed’ to experiment in Karnataka? They are from America. They can very well do these field trial activities in their country. But they do not want to do that.  Because they  know that such experiments would harm their environment. The soil fertility will decrease. This will also have a negative effect on the food crops that are commonly grown.  The yield may decline every year. Knowing all these they have come to our country with a definite plan and necessary ‘inputs’. Our bureaucracy and scientists seem to be blindly supporting their ‘objective’ by producing research papers saying that ‘GM food is not harmful’.  Do ‘adequate funds’ to these research projects influence such results?

America’s agricultural economy is dependent on exports. So they want to have a hold on the commonly used produces. So they are choosing such produces and experimenting on modify genetically. They seem to be interested in growing these vegetables in our country on contract basis. The produces are grown here (by our farmers on contract basis) and also sold here, but the money will go to their country.

Coming to brinjal, they want to inject the genes of spider, fish or some other organism to our beloved vegetable. Then will propagate that bt brinjal is the best and get a patent for that. Then our farmers are forced to buy the saplings from them.  Our farmers will not even be in a position to protest against curbing their right to grow.

The propaganda is that since the use of insecticides and pesticides is totally reduced as the new variety is pest and disease resistant. The fact is that since they have injected poison into the gene itself, the produce itself will be toxic irrespective of the fact that they pesticides or insecticides are not sprayed. So consumers will be prone to several diseases including in the long term. It may affect heart, kidney, brain. Babies Children born to women consuming bt have higher chances of blindness. Health risks of gm food are yet to be known. So, by the time diseases are diagnosed and remedies are invented, millions of peoples would have lost their lives. This information is based on an article on the adverse effects of gm food written by Russian and Mexican scientists published in New Scientist journal.

Once bt brinjal enters the market it is not even possible distinguish it from our local varieties. They look very similar in colour, shape, size and even taste. But the impact is totally different.

After a period, when all realize the ill effects of BT food, it may not to retrieve back to native varieties. Even if we grow rice or wheat in the brinjal field, the produces will be toxic.  All these would even reduce our lifespan.

India has enough potential to grow food for its consumption. Why should we compensate our health and environment for the well-being of others? Even the Union Health Minister has supported the campaign against GM food. Now it is your turn to join hands.  A word from you against GM food would change the entire scenario in favour of our environment and farming sector.

A.R. Manikant

Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj opposes GM Food

Mr.C.M.Udasi, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj speaking against GM food

Mr. Udasi, speaking against GM food

Today KRRS (Karnatka Rajya Raitha Sangha) organised a farmers’ rally in Bangalore. ‘I am No labrat’ volunteers went to the venue for creating awareness among farmers. After seeing us Mr.Kodihalli Chandrashekar, President, KRRS  spoke more on GM food and took special care to include  GM issue in the memorundem. Meanwhile ‘I am No labrat’ volunteers raised the banners and drew the attention of the crowd. KRRS district leaders promised us to take this issue to the people. KRRS has presented memorandum (with 16 demands) to Govt Of Karnataka. Baning GM Crops and Food is one among them. President Chandrashekar demanded Govt to declare Karnatka as a ‘GM Free’ state. He said ” Transferring animal gene into  food crops is against nature law.  Europe has totally banned GM foods. Kerala has declared GM free state.We should be conscious enough to ban GM crop entering to our field or GM food to our plate” .

Mr. C. M. Udasi, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, accepted  the memorandum on behalf  of Chief minister and said, “Personally iam against GM food. You have brought to my notice that our neighbor state Kerala has banned GM crops and food. To make this happen in Karnataka , KRRS should raise the voice, Our  Govt will also join. I will bring this to the notice of Chief Minister ” [More photographs].

GM-Free food-shop at Lalbaugh Flower Show

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