2.Supreme Court asks panel to study GM crops
EXTRACT: Bhushan said big manufacturers could not claim confidentiality when the products are released in the environment and the public are eating food items that are not verified and approved for safety standards. (item 2)
1.ALLOWING GM CROPS INTO ANDHRA PRADESH IS ILLEGAL BAN THEM
Coalition for a GM-Free AP, PRESS RELEASE, April 8 2008
Hyderabad: Addressing an anti-GM protest meet here today, farmer leaders of all major farmers' organizations in the state of Andhra Pradesh demanded that the AP government take a clear anti-GM stand and ban GM crop trials in the state as has been done in other states like Kerala and Orissa. The protest has been organized by the Coalition for a GM-Free AP, a network of civil society organizations and farmers' groups.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sarampalli Mallareddy, Vice President, All India Kisan Sabha (affiliated to CPI-M) said, 'When the first trials of Bt Cotton began in the state and the country, the Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh passed a resolution against any GM crops and their trials in the state. Any cultivation or trials in the state of such crops is therefore illegal'. He demanded that the AP government ban such trials in the state and not allow any GM food crops.
Mr Raghava Reddy, President of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh pointed out that the government polices were allowing MNCs like Monsanto total control over our agriculture. He pointed out that when chemical pesticides were brought in, we were told that no harm will come out of them when the reality today points out to a different picture. The same can be anticipated from GM crops and the government should have a long term vision about the impacts of such a technology, he said.
'We are not against technology and we welcome any technology that helps in improving the environment, economy and health of our citizens however, GE crops do not deliver these. They increase the cost of production, cause deterioration in health and MNCs are making profit out of this. We want sustainable agriculture practices to be promoted', said Mr Samineni Ramarao, President, AP Rythu Sangam.
Sri Ramakrishna, ex-MLA and President, Rythu Sangam (affiliated to CPI) said that the all-party forum created of farmers' unions in the state in the case of Minimum Support Price for paddy will also take up this anti-GM cause.
'Self reliance in seeds is very important and if all farmers start creating their own seeds, no MNC can make profits out of farmers and I urge all farmers to acquire those simple breeding skills after all, companies are exploiting seed-producing farmers on the one hand and seed-consuming farmers on the other. We need to put an end to this', said Mr Gollamarri Shoury David, National Executive Committee Members of Bharatiya Janata Kisan Morcha, affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Jamalaiah, President of the Andhra Pradesh Shepherds and Goatherds Union promised that their struggle would be intensified to get the government answerable to the deaths of livestock after grazing on Bt Cotton fields. He demanded a complete halt to all research on GM crops until investigations on animal deaths are comprehensively done and made public.
'Genetic Modification is not true science, as it claims', pointed out Mr Ramesh, General Secretary of Jana Vignyana Vedika, a people's science movement, which expressed its solidarity to the anti-GM cause.
Mr B Venkateswarlu and Mr Chittoor Rambabu also participated in the protest meet on behalf of Telugu Rythu, affiliated to the Telugu Desam Party [TDP]. Mr Jeevan Kumar of Human Rights Forum also addressed the gathering.
The protest was attended by more than 250 farmers and consumers from different parts of Andhra Pradesh including ones affected by losses incurred with Bt Cotton, ones who have experienced allergies while working in Bt Cotton fields and ones who have lost their livestock upon grazing on Bt Cotton. Further, scores of farmers who practice ecological farming were also protesting, urging the AP government to ban GM crop trials in the state.
This protest was one of the events organised to mark a 'Global Day of Action Against GM Crops', including many protests all over India in different states.
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2.SC asks panel to study GM crops
Business Standard, April 8 2008
New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed the genetic engineering approval committee to consider the toxicity and allerginicity of genetically modified food items, and asked the government to post relevant material on the website so that independent experts could examine them.
The committee will also study the isolation distance of the experimental field from human habitation and the level of detection (LOD) ratio. At present, the isolation distance is fixed at 200 metre for rice. This, however, is a controverial issue, and it could be more or less for other crops. The committee has been asked to examine the objections in this field.
Regarding LOD, the ratio is 0.01% which roughly means one toxic grain in 10,000. This is also debatable, according to the petitioner Gene Campaign, which moved the public interest petition before the bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan. The court has asked the committee to examine these parameters.
Though the central government claimed that all relevant information was available on the website, Gene Campaign protested that only data about Bt cotton and brinjal are available. The government said companies that experimented with modified food could not be asked to disclose their process and other confidential data. The association of manufacturers protested against the demand for disclosure of data protected by the Right to Information Act and patent law.
Gene Campaign counsel Prashant Bhushan complained that the committee has not yet disclosed the minutes of its last meeting and the guidelines it has laid down for gene research. The court asked the government to post the details on the website.
Bhushan said big manufacturers could not claim confidentiality when the products are released in the environment and the public are eating food items that are not verified and approved for safety standards. He insisted on transparency, while the companies said their research is specifically protected under the RTI Act.