Press Release, Coalition for GM Free India
Hyderabad, February 27, 2008: Activists from fourteen states of India, consisting of farmers' organizations, NGOs, consumer groups and women's federations have pledged to keep India free of Genetically Modified foods and crops. Concluding a two-day national meeting (on February 25th and 26th 2008)which reviewed the available evidence on GM technology and its ramifications, the Coalition for GM-Free India today resolved to intensify the campaign to educate, create awareness and build public opinion against the hazardous implications of the technology.
'Last year, 2000 villages declared themselves GM Free where farmers took an informed decision to protect themselves against the onslaught of this imprecise corporate science. This year, another 2000 villages are expected to declare themselves GM-Free, spearheading a nation-wide resistance against GM crops', said Devinder Sharma, Coalition for GM-Free India.
The Coalition represents lakhs of farmers and consumers across the country. Among the important strategy decisions that emerged, the Coalition has decided to work towards making GM-Free India a political issue considering the forthcoming general elections.
States like Orissa, Kerala and Uttarakhand have already declared themselves GM-Free. In the days to come, more and more states are expected to follow suit.
Pointing out that the Government of India is acting irresponsibly and bowing before the money power of multinational biotech industry, Ms Janani of Orissa Nari Samaj said, 'Majority of the countries in the world have rejected GM in their farming and they have done so after considering all options. The Government of India is clearly putting the interests of corporations before the interests of farmers'. Orissa Nari Samaj fears that the expansion of cultivable area under GM crops will destroy the available biodiversity thereby threatening the nation's food security.
Representatives of the Coalition also denounced the hype about Bt Cotton contributing to spectacular yield increases in Indian cotton and clarified that in several states, the yield figures are actually showing unsteady trends and that in states like Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, some of their record yields were obtained from non-Bt Cotton and not Bt Cotton. In a state like Gujarat, increase in yields is attributed to good monsoons and increase in irrigation by around 33% in the past five years, amongst other reasons, by the state government of Gujarat.
Participating in the Press Conference were representatives of fourteen states Sri Devinder Sharma from Delhi; Dr Nammalvar and Sri Selvam from Tamil Nadu, Sri Utkarsh Sinha from Uttar Pradesh, Ms Usha, Kerala; Mr Krishna Prasad from Karnataka; Mr Hartej Singh Mehta of Punjab, Sri Chandan Mukherjee, West Bengal; Mr Datta Patil, Maharashtra; Mr Sunil Kumar, Bihar; Mr Girija Nandan Upadhyay, Jharkhand; Mr Vijay Bhadu, Rajasthan; Mr Jagannath Chatterjee from Orissa; Sri Nilesh Desai from Madhya Pradesh and Dr Ramanjaneyulu/Ms Kavitha Kuruganti from Andhra Pradesh.
For more information, contact:
Devinder Sharma at 098-113-01857
Kavitha Kuruganti at 093-930-01550