1.Farmers, Traders and Consumers unite to oppose GM crops
2.DECLARATION - National Farmers' Day
4.Ban entry of GM seeds, Centre told - press report

1.Farmers, Traders and Consumers unite to oppose GM crops

In an unprecedented move, farmers, traders and consumers of Tamil Nadu came together on December 23rd 2006 - which is marked as the National Farmers' Day - to reject GE in agriculture.

The day was marked by a seminar attended by more than 1200 farmers, followed by rally through the city of Thanjavur (known as the Rice Bowl of South India) and then a public meeting where major political parties called a halt to GM crop experimentation and cultivation in the country, promoted mainly by American interests.

Please find enclosed the declaration from Thanjavur, in addition to a brief report on the meeting.

Kavitha Kuruganti
Centre for Sustainable Agriculture

National Farmers' Day - Thanjavur, December 23rd 2006

In order to safeguard our land, people, food security and food sovereignty, representatives of different farmers' organisations, trade unions, consumer fora, self-help groups and non-government organizations belonging to South India declare the following on National Farmers' Day on December 23rd 2006:

Our country, after 60 years of freedom and development is today facing a serious crisis related to food security and national sovereignty. The Prime Minister has officially acknowledged that India is faced with a terrible agrarian crisis. Further, the report of the Chairman of National Farmers' Commission, Dr M S Swaminathan, describes the bleak national situation related to farming communities in the country.

65% of our population consists of farmers whose livelihood base is being systematically destroyed. The regions which were considered the heartland of Green Revolution have been subjected to severe environmental degradation and exploitation of natural resources. The Green Revolution has collapsed. The lack of vision and unmindful implementation of the first Green Revolution has destroyed the ecological balance, made farming unsustainable and contaminated the food, air and the drinking water of all Indians. Now, the country faces the threat of a second Green Revolution designed by America. In this context, Multi-National Companies like Monsanto, supported by the Government of India, are taking control over our seed and food in the name of Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, which would ostensibly usher in the Second Green Revolution. Gene robbery by agri-corporations will further be legitimized through this bilateral deal between India and the US, though public-private partnerships with our agriculture research & education establishment.

In this context, introduction of Genetically Engineered crops poses a serious threat to our environment, farm economy, health of Indians and to our national food sovereignty.

Consider this: Trials conducted in UK reveal that the cultivation of GE organisms has been found to damage the wildlife. Reports are available from different countries on the threat of contamination of indigenous varieties. Throughout the world, consumer preferences are against GE in food only 21 countries across the world have approved the planting of GM crops, almost 15 years of their initial development. Even this consists of only traits of insect and herbicide resistance in four main crops cotton, soybean, maize and canola. 94% of the World GE crops are grown in just four countries (USA, Argentina, Canada and China). 91% of GE seed is made and owned by one company called Monsanto. 27 of 30 EU top retailers have a non-GE policy throughout the EU. What is important to note that there is no GM crop in the world which has contributed to increase in crop productivity. Evidence is in fact to the contrary, showing that yields of GM crops are actually lower than conventional crops. There is also growing evidence of serious health hazards for both animals and human beings.

GE crops also come with a threat on the Intellectual Property Rights front. These crops are PATENTED - this means that saving, re-sowing and exchanging seeds will be illegal. This is an unacceptable violation of farmers’ rights. The technology along with the IPR regime and strong corporate control jeopardizes the primary livelihood of millions of Indians. It also seriously threatens the national food security and sovereignty. GE has potential hazards for everybody except the companies who own and sell the seeds.

On the other hand, the efforts taken by farmers and NGOs towards ecological and sustainable farming methods have proved to be farmer-centric, viable and sustainable. This has been acknowledged by the Central and State Governments of India.

On behalf of farmers, consumers and traders of this country, this forum reiterates the right of all Indians to a GM-Free India. It demands that the State and Central Governments declare India as a GM-Free country to retain our food security, food sovereignty, bio-diversity and trade security. We demand immediate stoppage of all experimentation on GM crops and animals. Governments should promote and support adoption of ecological & sustainable ways of farming as the only way forward.

National Farmers' Day December 23rd 2006, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

National Farmers' Day was celebrated as a 'Farmers' Re-awakening day' by a South India seminar on Agrarian Crisis & GM Crops. Farmers' organizations and activist groups from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Pondicherry, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh participated in a seminar, rally and public meeting organized to mark the occasion. Farmers' organizations affiliated to all major political parties, Federation of the Consumer Organizations of Tamilnadu and Pondicherry (FEDCOT), Tamilnadu Organic Agriculturists' Movement, (TNOAM), CREATE Trust, SEVA Trust, Tamilnadu Vanihar Sangangalin Peravai, Federation of Rice Traders Association, Thanal (Kerala), Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (Andhra Pradesh), Nagarika Seva Trust (Karnataka), Karnataka Rajya Rytha Sangha (KRRS) and ICRA (Karnataka) supported these events.

Thiru G Nammalvar, President, Tamilnadu Organic Agriculturists Movement, presided over the meeting. Dr Devinder Sharma, Food & Trade Expert from New Delhi and Prof. Duraisingham, Chairman, Consumer Council of India delivered special lectures. Thiru T Vellayan, President, Tamilnadu Vanihar Sangangalin Peravai delivered the inaugural address. Ms Kavitha Kuruganti from CSA in Andhra Pradesh, Mr Vijay Jawandhia from Shetkari Sanghatan in Maharastra, Ms S Usha from Thanal in Kerala and Sri Ranjan Rao Yeradur from NST in Karnataka took part in the seminar. Mrs S Bakya Lakshmi, General Secretary, FEDCOT, Mr S Peer Mohammed, Chairman, FEDCOT, Mr S Susai Michael, Executive Secretary of SEVA Trust, Mr R Jayaram, Training Director of CREATE, Mr G Thirunavukkarasu, Vice-President, TNOAM also participated. Mr K Chellamuthu, Tamizhaga Uzhavar Uzhaipalar Sangam spoke about why farmers had to destroy a Bt Rice trial field in Tamil Nadu.

The seminar welcomed the decision of Tamil Nadu state government to bring in a legislation to ban all GM crop trials. This heartening move by a state government should be emulated by all other states in India.

In the evening, leaders belonging to various farmers' movements, traders’ organisations, consumer organisations and political organizations addressed the public meeting.

The following resolutions were passed in the seminar:

Demand for a GM-Free India

1. The forum demands that the government declare India GM-Free

2. Keeping in mind various issues including food sovereignty and trade security, the forum demands immediate stoppage of all research and trials of GM crops in India

3. No GM seeds and foods should be allowed to be imported into the country

4. The forum demands that the approach for the future of Indian agriculture be based on ecological and sustainable farming.

Save Farmers Save India

1. Farmers' incomes should be fixed and ensured by including them in the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

2. The forum demands that the State and Central Governments write off all debts of farmers across the country.

3. The forum recognizes that Hunger is a direct outcome of globalization and liberalization policies that are fast eroding food entitlements at three levels.

Ø The food security system (Minimum Support Price & Public Distribution Systems) is being dismantled

Ø Food entitlements have been undermined by reducing purchasing power due to collapse of rural incomes (which are an outcome of depressed farm prices due to deregulation of trade)

Ø Food production is declining with trade liberalization shifting India's agriculture policies from 'food first to export first'.

In this context, this Forum demands that Agriculture should be excluded from WTO and other Free Trade Agreements.

4. The forum demands that cultivable land should not be allotted to industries, special economic zones and other commercial purposes.

5. The minimum support price fixed for agricultural products should be revised based on cost of living index.

6. All factories that are polluting land and water resources should be closed down.

7. All encroachments on water bodies, common lands and forest areas should be identified and removed.

8. It is clear beyond doubt that chemical pesticides are not needed for sustaining and increasing agriculture production and for crop protection. Therefore, State and Central Governments should stop promoting and recommending chemical pesticides to farmers and that such recommending officers should be subjected to public enquiry for risking the lives of farmers and contaminating the environment.

Specific Demands to Tamil Nadu state government

9. As suggested by the National Farmers’ Commission, Tamil Nadu State Government should provide bank loan at 4% interest to all farming households (The forum demands that this should include Self Help Groups).

10. Renovation of tanks should be taken up on a large scale and the Tamil Nadu State Government should form a monitoring committee consisting of all farmers’ organizations to monitor such renovation.

11. The Tamil Nadu State Government is asked to permit tapping of toddy from coconut and palmyra trees to protect the coconut growers and workers associated with this profession.

12. Tamil Nadu state government should set precedence to the rest of the country by banning pesticide usage in agriculture.

4.Ban entry of GM seeds, Centre told
New India Press, Sunday December 24 2006

THANJAVUR: The farmers urged the Central Government to ban the entry of genetically modified (GM) seeds, experiments to raise GM crops and import of GM foodstuffs in the larger interests of inland farmers and ensure poison-free, chemical-free nutritious food to all.

A resolution to this effect was adopted at the seminar on the 'National Farmers Day;' here on Saturday.

The seminar was jointly organised by the Tamil Nadu Organic Agriculturist Movement, Federation of Consumer Organisations of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (FEDCOT), Tamil Nadu Traders Federation and Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.

The farmers also urged the government to prevent the multi-national companies from claiming patent rights on the hereditary seed production methods and medical systems.

Tamil Nadu Organic Agriculturist Movement president G Nammalwar presided. Tamil Nadu Traders Federation president T Vellaiyan inaugurated the seminar.