1.SAGE demands NBA Chairman step down from the post
2.Open letter to Prof. Kannaiyan
NOTE: Compare and contrast
'The idea that biotechnology cannot by itself reduce hunger and poverty is mainstream opinion among agricultural scientists and policy-makers.' - Editorial in the science journal Nature http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8684
'We have never, ever, suggested that GM is the only way forward.' - Julian Little of the biotech industry body, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8690
'”¦genetically modified crops were the only answer to increase the production and productivity and to solve malnutrition problem in [India]' - Dr. S. Kannaiyan, Chairman, India's National Biodiversity Authority - quoted below
1.SAGE demands NBA Chairman step down from the post
Hyderabad UNI, Jan 23 2008 http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20080123/875372.html
South Against Genetic Engineering (SAGE) Convenor PV Satheesh today demanded National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) Chairman S Kannaiyan to step down from his post for allegeedly making statements against 'bio diversity' at a meeting in Chennai on January 18.
Demanding that the centre must recall him, if Mr Kannaiyan did not step down from his post, Mr Satheesh SAGE was ready for an open debate with the NBA Chairman on the issue of Geneti Engineering (GE) and food and nutritional security.
Urging the officialto uphold the sanctity of the position,he said the SAGE would start a national movement for the recall of Mr Kannaiyan.
Objectiing to the statement made by the NBA Chairman that 'Genetically modified crops were the only answer to increase the production and productivity and to solve malnutrition problem in the country', Mr Satheesh said there was no scientific proof and surevy reports supporting his comments'.
SAGE is a coalition of over 50 networks of farmers, scientists, academicians and civil society organisations, functioning in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharastra.
2.SOUTH AGAINST GENETIC ENGINEERING
PRESS RELEASE, January 23 2008
Dear Prof Kannaiyan
Sub: How can you do that?
Every citizen of this country who has concerns and commitment for the conservation of biodiversity, has received with shock and disbelief the statement you have made welcoming genetically engineered crops to save this country. To put it most mildly, it is extremely unfortunate that the chief of a national body meant to safeguard the biodiversity in the country should issue a statement such as the following:
'”¦genetically modified crops were the only answer to increase the production and productivity and to solve malnutrition problem in the country' as reported in several newspapers from Chennai.
Ostensibly you were participating in a National Seminar on Biodiversity, Bioresources and Biotechnology for Sustainable Livelihood of the Rural Community. It is strange that of the four aspects of the seminar viz., biodiversity, bioresources, biotechnology and sustainable livelihood you left out everything else and chose to become the messiah of biotechnology. Obviously your past as the champion of biotechnology [as VC of TNAU (Tamilnadu Agricultural University)] has refused to leave your soul.
Prof Kannaiyan, would you be willing to look at your job chart and see what your role as the Chairman, NBA is? The Biodiversity Law came into being to give effect to the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The primary objective of it being CONSERVATION of biological diversity. The National Biodiversity Authority ought to uphold these CBD principles apart from its specifically stated functions in the Act & Rules. In any case may we remind you that the National Biodiversity Authority came into being to represent the wishes and aspirations of millions of your countrywomen and men who have safeguarded biodiversity on their farms, fields, forests, fishery and livestock for millennia. When they saw an explosion of invasion of corporate biopirates on their sacred lands they wanted a mechanism to save their hard conserved biodiversity.
Simultaneously globally there was an outcry about the fast diminishing biodiversity and the need for a global effort to safeguard this global heritage of mankind. The result was the Convention on Biological Diversity which was signed by all the countries except for a corporate-infested rogue state called United States of America for whom their corporate interests come before the interests of their people. Signing the CBD and not implementing its originally well-intended objectives is worse than not ratifying it at all.
I hope you have read the C B D thoroughly Prof Kanniayan. If you have failed or forgotten to read it, may I as a citizen of this country draw your attention to a relevant part of it?
Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 8(g)
'Article 8. In-situ Conservation
Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate: ...
(g) Establish or maintain means to regulate, manage or control the risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology which are likely to have adverse environmental impacts that could affect the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account the risks to human health;...'
It is a bit sad that it takes citizens like us to remind you that the very CBD that created the National Authority and your position, is being threatened by your statements that are inimical to both truth and science.
Section 36.4 (ii) of the Biological Diversity Act 2002 states that:
'The Central Government shall undertake measures to regulate, manage or control the risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology likely to have adverse impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and human health' .
As one of the key custodians of this law the Chairman of the National Biodiversity Authority you ought to be advising the Central Government on prevention of GMOs as a precautionary measure rather than risk the rich and mega-diverse biodiversity of India and with it the culture and livelihoods of millions of people. Simply put GE (genetic engineering) is antithetical to diversity. It not only perpetrates monocultures, but also unleashes non-tested unnatural products that could cause genetic pollution.
Shouldn’t you be taking care of these issues as Chairman, NBA, Prof Kaniayan? In any case your job is to safeguard the biodiversity of this country. That is your mandate. You and the NBA are supposed to be the custodians of the biodiversity on the farms, fields, forests ponds, rivers and seas of this country. If this is the case, who gave you the authority to make out of turn comments on the need for genetic engineering to protect the nutrition and productivity of this country? Is that your job?
Are you aware of the significant body of information on how Organic farming can feed the world?
The FAO, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, in a special report in September 2007 titled Organic Agriculture and Food Security explicitly states that organic agriculture can address local and global food security challenges Organic farming is no longer to be considered a niche market within developed countries, but a vibrant commercial agricultural system practised in 120 countries, covering 31 million hectares (ha) of cultivated land plus 62 million ha of certified wild harvested areas. The organic market was worth US$40 billion in 2006, and expected to reach US$70 billion by 2012. It defines organic agriculture as: 'A holistic production management system that avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and genetically modified organisms, minimizes pollution of air, soil and water, and optimises the health and productivity of plants, animals and people.'
Do you, Prof Kanniayan classify FAO under the category of people 'ignorant about the ground realities or have some ulterior motive ' which you accused NGOs in your infamous address of last week?
Or would you also consider as ignorant or people with an ulterior motive the team of researchers from the University of Michigan which has compiled a 20 year research from 293 different comparisons into a single study to assess the overall efficiency of the organic and chemical agricultural systems come to the conclusion in developed countries, organic systems on average produce 92% of the yield produced by conventional agriculture. In developing countries, however, organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms.
Do you have access to such documents in the NBA library or are you surrounded by those spurious studies by the biotech industries and donated to you by Monsantos and Syngentas in gratitude to your promotion of their cause in your previous job as the VC of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University?
Instead of closely looking at such findings and promoting organic farming which has the real potential to safeguard and enhance agro-biodiveristy in this country, it is amazing that you have become the champion of GM crops. One wonders why?
The reasons are not far off to be invisible. Within a month or so, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee [GEAC], Government of India’s apex regulatory body for GE crops has to decide approval of a number of field trials of genetically modified crops that include more varieties of Bt cotton, Bt Brinjal, Bt Mustard, Bt Okra etc. This is the reason why the biotech industry has gone on an overdrive in promoting their cause and a shrill advocacy has begun. They have the industrial bodies on their side. Their paid scientists have started singing a new chorus for the crops. The pink press barring a few are making it a purely FII argument. The only support that the biotech industry desperately needs now is from institutions that are respectable in the environment and ecological circles such as the NBA. Have you fallen into their trap Prof Kanniayan or are you a willing accomplice in the biotech industry’s conspiratorial plan to turn India into a GE state of poisoned lands and thereby ensure their coffers are full for ever? If this has indeed happened, you will be charged with the crime of bringing down the total sanctity and credibility of the institution which you are heading.
The only demand we can make under these circumstances is PLEASE STEP DOWN FROM YOUR POSITION AS THE CHAIR, N B A.
In any case another statutory provision with the Act provides for the removal of NBA members if they have so abused his position as to render his continuance in office detrimental to the public interest; -Section 11(d)
Then we can enter into an open debate on a forum of your choice to debate nationally and internationally the issue of GE and food and nutritional security. We will place the global and national evidences which expose the total hollowness of your claims on behalf of the industry.
In the meanwhile, we request you to stop polluting the sanctity of your position of Chair, NBA by making irresponsible statements on GE.
[p v satheesh]
On behalf of
SOUTH AGAINST GENETIC ENGINEERING
a coalition of over 50 networks of farmers, scientists, academicians, consumer groups and civil society organizations functioning in the south Indian states of AP, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra