There's been another major development in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) brought by Aruna Rodrigues and three co-Petitioners before India's Supreme Court.
Over 6.5 million farmers from every state in India are asking the Supreme Court to let them join the case before the Court, saying GM crops risk irreversibly damaging India's farmland and biodiversity.
This new move follows on from the application already filed in the Supreme Court by the Association of the Rice Millers and Exporters in India, who want a GM moratorium to protect the rights of farmers and consumers to grow and consume GM-free crops, as well as to ensure - in their interest and in the national interest - that exports don't suffer because of GM contamination.
EXTRACT: it is now quite clear that the [national Government] of India and its Regulator consider the protection of Monsanto and the rest of the industry as having priority over public health and India's sovereign interests of food security and her bio-safety.
GMOs: FARMERS IMPLEAD IN THE GM PIL
OVER 6 1/2 MILLION FARMERS FROM EVERY STATE IN INDIA, 'PRAY' TO INDIA'S SUPREME COURT TO BE IMPLEADED IN THE GM PIL. IN AN UNPRECEDENTED & HUGE REACTION TO THE UNION OF INDIA'S CONTINUING DRIVE TO FORCE GM CROPS ON AN UNAWARE FARMING COMMUNITY AND AN UNAWARE POPULATION, FARMERS SAY:
"NO GM CROPS"; "NO" TO THE ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY OF IRREVESIBLE CONTAMINATION OF THEIR FIELDS AND SEED STOCK IF GM CROPS ARE NOT BANNED.
Contamination from GM Crops Including Field Trials Risk Farmlands & India's Bio-diversity in Perpetuity
Contamination, even the risk of contamination, from GM crops has been long denied by the GE Industry as a figment of the imagination of those opposing GM crops. However, it is a biological FACT and the physical evidence of genetic contamination being reported from all over the world is now incontrovertible and conclusive. The recent GM rice contamination of US long-grain rice is so serious that the damage to the US rice industry is valued in billions of $s with countries moving to ban US rice imports and American farmers being stopped from planting rice in the current season. The GM contamination of rice in the US is spiralling out of control despite the best attempts of farmers, millers, exporters and the Regulator to contain it and clean-up. Thus, the strategy of GM crop developers in the US and other parts of the world has now changed to demanding that they be allowed to contaminate Non GM crops! Regulation is being 'bent' to allow contamination. And the reasons are:
*That testing techniques are not sensitive enough to detect contamination at zero detection levels so some contamination is therefore inevitable and should be accepted as reasonable, even of organic certified crops! Thereafter, contamination of all crops by GM will be so pervasive that we will be faced with a 'fait accompli' everywhere, particularly in India and the developing world, that it will be futile to oppose it. 'NATURAL' SEEDS WILL BE VIRTUALLY EXTINCT. This is quite simply the objective of the Biotech GE industry led by Monsanto.
The question that must be asked is; why is the Union of India with its Regulator the GEAC and DBT aiding and abetting such an objective? This is the mystery because, the astonishing fact is, that the Union of India and its Regulator are complicit in allowing the contamination of India's farmlands, food and the environment, as they continue to actively promote and approve GM crops and field trials of every conceivable oilseed, grain and vegetable, not undertaken in any other country in the world. GM crops continue to be largely untested by regulators that rely on the crop developer’s assurance of their safety. Leading International scientists warn of the serious hazards connected with GM crops; that they are unsafe for human and animal health and for the environment. Toxicity and allergenicity tests are conspicuous by their absence in every country, not just India. When the Regulator was requested by GreenPeace for such data under the RTI for brinjal and okra, it was refused on grounds of CBI (Confidential Business Information). Thus, it is now quite clear that the Union of India and its Regulator consider the protection of Monsanto and the rest of the industry as having priority over public health and India's sovereign interests of food security and her bio-safety.
Genetically engineered crops because of the certainty of genetic contamination therefore also preclude or negate farmer rights to grow Non-GM crops, and indigenous people's community rights. Without the required prohibitions and remedies in place, farmers are faced with multiple threats arising from the adverse and irreversible impact of GMOs on them. They therefore require the following action to be taken immediately (amongst other measures):
i.No GM Crops to be Grown in India.
ii.A Full List of Field Trials and their Locations during 2005-7: It is also required that DNA sequences of the genes in field trials are put in the public domain to allow probes to be easily developed to perform independent PCR tests to detect whether these experimental genes have contaminated farmlands and / or made it into food. GE crop developers may not be allowed to hide behind bogus claims of CBI (confidential business information), as the GEAC have repeatedly cited, putting public health and the environment in jeopardy.
iii.Deterrent & Precautionary Measures:
§Any farmer that suspects his fields have been contaminated will have the right to ask for tests to be conducted on his crop and land. Detection levels for GM contamination are being constantly refined and state-of-the-art labs are currently able to detect traceability levels of genetic contamination of less than 0.01%. It is stressed that farmers require zero tolerance for genetic contamination. The Regulator will not be exempt from responsibility if contamination occurs, the rules for which must be addressed.
§Testing for genetic contamination, which will be required periodically, or as required by stakeholders for quality assurance regarding the genetic purity of their crop. These are required to be done at the crop developers' expense and will be carried out in a time-bound way within the stipulated period of time, non compliance of which will attract penalties as laid down.
§Compensation for genetic contamination will be penal to be worked out according to the well grounded and established legal principle of Tort and will also entail criminal liability individually and collectively.
iv.The Institution of an Ombudsman: Given the track record of the Government and its Regulator and anti-farmer stance in promoting GM crops, it is clear that we have a thoroughly compromised Government. Therefore, in order to engender a commitment to objectivity, it is required that the many issues outlined above, most critically the environmental defence of India, must be overseen by an independent and autonomous Body, free of bureaucrats in its management, with the active involvement of civil society in the election and execution of its mandate. Such an 'Ombudsman' must carry the critical Constitutional mandate of the 'Protection of India’s Biodiversity'. It therefore becomes necessary that its authority is underpinned by an Act of Parliament by which it will be instituted.
Dr. KrishanBir Chaudhary: Petitioner No 1 Executive Chairman Bharat Krishak Samaj With Co-Petitioners:
Arun K Shrivastava (New Delhi) and
Mrs. Begari Samamamma (Andhra Pradesh)
9th April 2007