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**YOU CAN HELP**
PLEASE ACT NOW TO SUPPORT INDIAN OPPOSITION TO THIS FRAUD
A regulatory coup is about to hit India, opening the floodgates to GMOs.
The relevant Indian bureaucrats and scientists are being put under intense pressure to achieve the *IMMEDIATE* commercialisation of Mahyco-Monsanto's Bt Cotton on Tuesday (19th) of *THIS WEEK*.
Even India's Minister of Agriculture, Nitish Kumar, appears to be in the dark. Kumar had said recently that all aspects of the issue (see below) would be carefully examined prior to any question of GM cotton cultivation. Now it looks like many socio-economic and environmental safety considerations will simply be pushed to one side in the rush to commercialisation.
DON'T FORGET: Quite apart from all the obvious environmental and other risks, crops designed to increase mechanisation and reduce labour on big farms spell disater for the poor. They will increase unemployment amongst landless labourers, put smallholders out of business and increase the gap between rich and poor. Remember: the 'free' market offers NO choice to those in India who will suffer if the largest farms introduce these crops.
*YOU CAN HELP STOP THE COUP*
This is the intended timetable for the regulatory coup:
*The Ministry of Environment and Forests has brought forward the crucial meeting of GEAC (Genetic Engineering Advisory Committee) to June 19 so that the sowings can take place in south India by the end of the month.
*A day earlier, on June 18, the Health Ministry has called another meeting to discuss the biosafety aspects.
*Monsanto-Mahyco is ready with the seed and the list of farmers who will undertake the sowings. If they get the clearance on Tuesday, they are in a position to start sowing the next day.
There is tremendous pressure on the bureaucrats/scientists to approve the transgenic cotton for commercialisation. Some scientists have said that this kind of pressure has NEVER been felt before, even on the issue of IPRs.
Everything is being worked around the clock to see that the legal apparatus is in place for the approval.
This will be the first commercial transgenic release in India and obviously will open the floodgates for similar releases.
India's farmer, environmental and consumer groups are waking up to what is going on and are calling for this fraud to be stopped.
****** YOU CAN HELP!!! ******
In support of Indian farming, environment and food groups, as much pressure as possible must be exerted immediately on the Indian government to properly investigate the aspects of environmental safety identified by the India Council of Agriculture Research which is linked to the Ministry of Agriculture.
**An official press release by the Press Information Bureau last year had listed ICAR's concerns and quoted the Ministry oficials as saying that these would be studied.**
To ignore ICAR's environmental and social concerns would constitute a FRAUD on the Indian people.
Please contact the Prime Minister and others in the government supporting the call of India's farmers and relevant NGOs for a postponement of this decision until proper evaluation, as proposed by ICAR, and debate has taken place. CONTACT DETAILS AT END.
Here are the important concerns raised by the India Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR). These must be investigated prior to commercialisation.
In a presentation to the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) last year, the India Council of Agriculture Research suggested further detailed studies were required, to include:
* nutritional studies on buffaloes and cows to determine whether transgenic cotton and transgenic cottonseed oil has any effect on animal health, milk production and quality of milk that in turn affects human health;
* studies on the development of resistance of other plant pests;
* toxicity studies on other animal species like poultry and fish under Indian conditions;
* studies on the stability of Cry 1Ac gene;
* studies on gene flow and pollen dispersal and an assessment of the impact of such a migration on non-transgenic cotton;
* a report from Indian laboratories like the South campus of Delhi University or the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Hyderabad that Bt seeds do not contain the controversial terminator gene that would produce sterile seeds in order to ensure that the introduction of the new technology would not affect Indian farming practices.
* a study to generate socio-economic data like the cost of transgenic cottonseed, projected demand, and the area to be covered under transgenic cotton cultivation.
Please contact these people today. We hope to forward more contact details.
Online email to Office of the Prime Minister (Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee)
The Secretary, Ministry of the Environment & Forests
or if you can please fax the Minister on +44 11 3354590
*Call for a postponement of this decision until proper evaluation, as proposed by ICAR, and debate has taken place
*Support the ICAR's requirements for proper research prior to commercialisation
*Point out that these crops will not benefit small farmers and landless workers but only destroy their jobs and increase the gap between rich and poor
*Their approval should not be rushed through without time to consult farmers or properly assess the potentially disastrous environmental, socio-economic and health impact for India.
PLEASE ACT and FORWARD TO ALL YOUR CONTACTS