NOTE: Hugely impressive range of protests involving tens of thousands.
Coalition for GM Free India marks global day of action
Kavitha Kuruganti of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture:
Farmers and consumers from various districts of Andhra Pradesh [including farmers who suffered losses with Bt Cotton in 2007, workers who suffered allergies while working in Bt Cotton fields and livestock owners whose animals died or fell sick after grazing on Bt Cotton fields], will assemble at Indira Park on April 8th at 10.30 am in Hyderabad, to press for their demand of making Andhra Pradesh a GM-Free state.
As the government of India is pushing forward with its approvals for field trials of various genetically modified crops and even as states like Orissa, Kerala and Uttarakhand have taken a stand to remain GM-Free, this protest in Hyderabad is to demand that the Andhra Pradesh government also take a pro-active stand in making the state GM-Free.
Incidentally, it is in AP that a large ecological farming project is being implemented in lakhs of acres successfully, financed by the government. Farmers in the programme have proven more than adequately that they don't need pesticides or GM seeds for the problems that they face in their farming.
The protest at Indira Park will also have leaders of farmers' organisations, activists, concerned farmers and consumers, some political party representatives etc.
We request media representatives to please come over to Indira Park by around 11 am, along with a photographer. Thank you. For media friends in other states, the following is the information on protests across the country on the 8th of April or around the 8th.
To mark a global day of action against GM crops & foods, a coordinated day of actions is being organised in India by members of the Coalition for GM Free India on April 8th where state governments will be reminded about their constitutional responsibility and authority with regard to agriculture and the fact that they should have a long-term vision for farming and therefore, should not allow any GM crop trials and foods into their states.
1. IN KERALA - A state level event is being organised by Thanal in Ernakulam - this will be inaugurated by their Agriculture Minister. There is a poster exhibition and a seminar. CONTACT: USHA OF THANAL - 094-470-22775
2. IN ANDHRA PRADESH - district level events are being organised in places like Nalgonda and Visakhapatnam. In addition, members of Coalition for GM-Free Andhra Pradesh are organising a protest in Hyderabad where farmers from Khammam, Nalgonda, Kurnool, Warangal, Prakasham, Guntur and Mahbubnagar will be saying NO to GM crops. Several of them will narrate their personal experiences of crop losses in Kharif 2007, allergies, livestock deaths etc. There will also be consumers from Hyderabad. There will be a group of 20 mothers with their babies saying NO to GM, to highlight the health concerns with GM crops. There will also be farmers' leaders expressing their solidarity from farmers' unions affiliated to different political parties. Some political party representatives are also expected. CONTACT: KAVITHA KURUGANTI OF CSA - 09393001550
3. IN ORISSA - Orissa Nari Samaj will come out onto the streets of Bhubaneswar in large numbers [2000 tribal women] and display their traditional seeds, anti-GM posters etc., and will be supported by students-consumers from the city. CONTACT: JOHN OF THREAD - 094-370-53888
8 NGOs along with farmers unions and Living Farms, as part of a state level forum, will collect 30,000 petition signatures and present it to the government that day to demand that Orissa remain GM-Free in its implementation. Block level rallies will take place in Kendrapara, Bargarh, Bolangir, Rayagada, Sundargarh, Ganjam, Nayagarh and Sambalpur districts. Letters from 50 sarpanches on their letterheads to the Agri Minister urging him to be GM-Free in Orissa, including in implementation, would also be given to the Agri Minister. CONTACT: DEBJEET SARANGI OF LIVING FARMS: 099-385-82616
4. IN MADHYA PRADESH - In Jhabua, a thousand farmers are expected to take out a funeral procession of Bt Cotton and Bt Brinjal/Bt Rice seeds. Huge seed containers will be created and the funeral procession and ritual will be for these containers. This is being supported by Sampark. CONTACT: NILESH DESAI OF SAMPARK: 094-253-29222
5. IN PUNJAB - On Baisakhi, on April 13th, huge posters and exhibition stalls will be set up in Amritsar, Talwandi Sabo and Anandpur Sahib to educate the public about GM crops. CONTACT: UMENDRA DUTT OF KHETI VIRASAT MISSION: 098-726-82161
6. IN MAHARASHTRA - The Sashwat Sheti Kriti Parishad will organise dharnas, rallies, consumer awareness meetings and some more villages will declared themselves GM-Free on April 8th. The districts covered are Buldana, Amravati, Akola, Washim and Wardha. CONTACT: SMITA HADKE OF YUVA: 094-219-20627
7. IN UTTAR PRADESH - Bharatiya Kissan Union is holding a meeting at Sisoli where thousands of farmers are expected to assemble. CONTACT: YUDHVIR SINGH OF BKU: 098-681-46405
8. IN TAMIL NADU - In Tamil Nadu on 14th of April, in 30 districts protests and meetings are organised by TOAM , environmenal organisations and consumer organisations. A state level programme is also there at Chennai. Thousands of farmers and consumers will participate. CONTACT: DR NAMMALVAR OF TAMIL NADU ORGANIC AGRICULTURISTS' MOVEMENT: 094-431-24589