1.Biotech firm on mat for GM trials in West Bengal
2.Demonstration against GM in Tamil Nadu
3.Kerala reiterates its 'NO' to GM crops & foods
EXTRACT: The inquiry also found that the results were not monitored scientifically by the seed developer and even the state agriculture university was not involved. Hence it was held that the trial is 'fraudulent'. The report has concluded that Mahyco has completely violated bio-safety regulations and provisions of the Environment (Protection ) Act.
1.Biotech firm on mat for GM trials
The Statesman , April 17 2008
KOLKATA, April 12: Field trials of genetically modified crops in Nadia are being conducted illegally by the subsidiary of an American biotech company, and these trials violate bio-safety regulations, says a report submitted by the principal agricultural officer to the district magistrate.
Parallely, the state environment department has also sought a report from Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalay (BCKV), the state agricultural university entrusted with monitoring the trials of Bt okra in Nadia.
The issue of banning trials of GM seeds in open fields may also come up when members of the agricultural commission meet the chief minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, on 15 April to discuss the interim report submitted by the commission. The commission has unanimously recommended a ban on open field trials of GM seeds in the state.
The report of the PAO, Nadia says the field trial for Bt okra at Hariharpara, by Mahyco is illegal since it did not have necessary approval from the State Biotechnology Coordination Committee (SBCC) and District Level Committee (DLC) as per provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The PAO has reported that since multi-locational research trials cannot be conducted in farmers' fields and the 'site of present trial is a farm of a private owner, therefore the directive of GEAC has been violated by Mahyco.'
Mahyco is a wholly-owned subsidiary of an American biotech company, Monsanto.
The inquiry also found that the results were not monitored scientifically by the seed developer and even the state agriculture university was not involved. Hence it was held that the trial is 'fraudulent'. The report has concluded that Mahyco has completely violated bio-safety regulations and provisions of the Environment (Protection ) Act.
The state environment secretary and convener of SBCC, Mr ML Meena said: 'We have asked for a report about Bt okra trials in Nadia from BCKV, the state agriculture university who were asked to monitor the trials. The SBCC would be convened in May to discuss this issue. We would have preferred that such trials take place in state-owned farms.'
While the district magistrate of Nadia has urged the chairman of the state agriculture commission to take necessary action on the report submitted by PAO , Mr Meena blamed DMs for not taking enough initiative to run the DLCs which are lying defunct.
2.Demonstration against genetically modified food items
The Hindu, April 15 2008
*'The State, Central Governments should bar entry to such items'
*'Using GM seeds in agriculture affected the bio-diversity of the area'
[image caption: Say no: Damanding a ban on genetic engineering, members of the Tamil Nadu Environment Council staging a demonstration opposite the Collectorate in Udhagamandalam on Monday]
Udhagamandalam: Demanding a ban on genetically modified (GM) food items, a demonstration was staged opposite the Collectorate here on Monday under the aegis of the Tamil Nadu Anti-Genetic Engineering Movement and the Tamil Nadu Environment Council (TNEC).
Among those who participated were members of the Island Trust, Nilgiris Women’s Collective, Tamil Nadu Green Movement, People’s Law Centre, farmers associations and consumer outfits.
The organiser, TNEC, the Nilgiris Chapter, M.L. Alphonse Raj, who led the demonstration, expressed the hope that farm related agencies such as Agricultural Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), Departments of Agriculture apart from the bureaucracy and judiciary would ensure that the genetically modified food items do not enter the country in any form.
He said that the highest priority should be given to protecting the health of the people.
Lessons should be learnt from the risks taken while promoting the green revolution. Studies had shown that even mother's milk contained pesticide residues.
The gullible masses should not be taken for a ride by the proponents of GM food items.
Consumers should be on guard to keep at bay multinational companies which promoted GM food items.
The State and Central Governments should bar entry to such items.
Using GM seeds in agriculture affected the bio-diversity of the area.
They triggered growth of weeds and affected the fertility of the soil.
The population of insects also increased.
Expressing the fear that the unbridled promotion of GM items would in the long run affect food security, he said that the technology was anti-ecology.
Like the green revolution which only benefited the companies which manufactured chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the genetic engineering technology would only help the MNCs.
3.Kerala reiterates its NO to GM crops & foods
PRESS RELEASE: Government of Kerala will not allow GM crops & foods: Kerala CM [Chief Minister]
Trivandrum, April 11 2008: Speaking at the inauguration of a two-day national seminar on 'GM Crops & Biodiversity Conservation' organised by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board, the Chief Minister of Kerala, Sri V S Achuthanandan assured the people of Kerala that no policy which will have adverse impact on farmers and/or environment will be brought in by the government, including GM (Genetically Modified) crops.
After two days of deliberations on all aspects related to GM crops, the seminar concluded resolving that 'release of GM crops into the environment and GM foods into the market should be banned to protect the health, agriculture and biodiversity of the nation'. At the concluding ceremony today, this declaration was endorsed by the Minister for Agriculture Sri Mullakkara Ratnakaran who pointed out that the government cannot consciously restrict choices of farmers by introducing GM crops or allowing their field trials.
The workshop was attended by more than 150 delegates consisting of representatives of different State Biodiversity Boards, farmers and farmer organizations, agricultural scientists, educationists, students, consumer organizations, industry and civil society organizations. The meeting discussed at length issues like GM crops & Biodiversity, GM crops & Food sovereignty, Health Hazards of GM crops and biosafety regulation, Genetic Contamination from GE crops and IPR issues. Existing official data on economics of GM crops were also discussed.
Participants in the workshop also pointed out that it is not possible for Kerala alone to be GM-Free if neighboring states allow GM crops and that a precautionary approach to GM crops is needed at the national level.
Farmers and civil society groups taking part in the seminar pointed out that they had several large scale ecological farming experiences being successfully established in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala and given that such alternatives exist, there is no necessity for bringing in GM crops.
The meeting passed a 'Kerala declaration on GM crops and Biodiversity' unanimously in the presence of the State Agriculture Minister.
KERALA DECLARATION ON GM CROPS & BIODIVERSITY
A two day national seminar convened by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board on 10 and 11 April 2008 at Trivandrum on GM crops & Biodiversity Conservation, attended by more than 150 delegates consisting of representatives of different State Biodiversity Boards, farmers and farmer organizations, agricultural scientists, educationists, students, consumer organizations, industry and civil society organizations,
After critically examining the following impacts of Genetically Modified crops (including Bt Cotton in India and other GM crops elsewhere in the world):
*genetic contamination of existing seed diversity and erosion of biodiversity,
*endangering of the diversity of crops for some of which India is the Centre of Origin,
*threatening the integrity of natural ecosystems
*irreversible and deleterious human health effects from GM crops/foods and adverse effects on other living organisms
*systematic monopolization of seed and other resources by a handful of large corporate bodies, to the extent that even future public research is jeopardized and farmers' apriori rights completely violated
*and thus, making farming unviable economically and ecologically for farmers
And, realising the critical importance that biodiversity plays
*in sustaining livelihoods along with farmers’ traditional knowledge,
*in maintaining and enhancing food, nutrition and livelihood security of the country and rural communities,
*in creating resilient systems in the era of climate change, especially at a time when the country is experiencing the ecological disaster attendant to green revolution,
*in making farming economically and ecologically viable for farmers
And, recognising that genetic engineering in agriculture is imprecise, irreversible, uncontrollable and unpredictable and realizing the importance of precautionary principle as a guiding principle in this matter,
Declares that release of GM crops into the environment and GM foods into the market should be banned to protect the health, agriculture and biodiversity of the nation.