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1.Farmers demand ban on GM crops
2.Bt crops like TB for India: Murli Manohar Joshi
3."Rules governing bio-safety aspects are inadequate"
4.Greenpeace uncovers illegal GM food in India

1.Farmers demand ban on GM crops
Gargi Parsai
The Hindu, May 7 2008

NEW DELHI: Hundreds of farmers under the banner of "Coalition for a GM-Free India" gathered here on Tuesday to demand a total ban on genetically modified (GM) crops and food saying it would affect not only humans but livestock, soil and environment.

They urged the political parties to take a categorical stand on GM technology in the run-up to the coming general elections. "It is an unwanted, irretrievable, undesirable technology," they asserted.

The protesters were supported in their call by representative of political parties across the spectrum. Celebrities like Milind Soman, Nafisa Ali, Nandita Das, Amla Akkineni, Sonal Mansingh and Rabbi Shergill also declared their support to the call for a GM-free India. Vandana Shiva, Yudvir Singh and members of Bharatiya Kisan Union also participated in the protest.

Addressing the farmers, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said GM crops were yet another attempt by corporates to take over Indian agriculture. He said to allow Bt brinjal trials was a discreet decision of the government to bring in GM and other such technologies without informed consent of the stakeholders concerned in the name of a second green revolution.

Rajya Sabha member K. Malaisamy and his colleagues from the AIADMK said they supported the movement not for any political motive but out of concern for agriculture and farmers as GM crops would affect the entire country.

The protest comes at a time when Indian regulators were considering applications for (experimental) seed production for Mahyco's Bt brinjal, the first such genetically modified vegetable in the world. Criticising the "false bogey" of GM crops being the answer to food security, the Coalition said experience with GM soybean had shown that the largest cultivated GM crop in the world had actually shown a decrease in yields with genetic modification. Further, genetic engineering as a technology could not increase productivity since yield was a "multi-genetic" function, said Kavitha Kuruganti of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.

The protesters pointed out that if Bt brinjal was allowed into India, the choice to choose between Bt brinjal and normal brinjal would be completely lost for the consumers, as the system of segregation and labelling was not defined in India.

They pointed out that "this kind of tinkering with food security and the nation's health was totally undemocratic for any government". At a time when organic and ecological farming was gaining ground it was "reckless" on the part of the government to even allow GM field trials. In a memorandum submitted to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, representatives of the farmers urged him to disallow any more open-air experiments with GM food crops and demanded that the government invoke the precautionary principle and ban release of GM crops and foods in the country.
2.Bt crops like TB for India: Murli Manohar Joshi
India eNews, May 7 2008

Hundreds of farmers from across 15 states gathered at Jantar Mantar here Tuesday to protest against Genetically Modified (GM) food crops and they found support in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Murli Manohar Joshi.

'Bt variety of crops will act as TB (tuberculosis) for the Indian farming industry if continued to be used,' Joshi said at the protest organised under the banner of 'Coalition for a GM-Free India'.

Joshi accused the government of caving in to US pressure and making India an experimentation ground for their companies.

'The committee for deciding the fate of GM crops in the country had no representation from the farming fraternity, unlike Monsanto and Wal-Mart who had a firm footing in the negotiations and will be the biggest gainers if GM variety of crops are allowed in the country,' he added.

Apprehensions regarding the safety of consumption of Bt Brinjal - yet to be allowed for commercial production - was raised and the already produced Bt variety of cotton was severely criticised.

'Bt brinjal, if introduced, will be the first GM vegetable in the world to be allowed for human consumption. It will be impossible for consumers to differentiate between GM brinjal and natural brinjal once the product hits the market,' Bhaskar Goswami from the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security told IANS.

Thousands of cattle have reportedly died in Andhra Pradesh due to consumption of residues from farms cultivating Bt Cotton.

'Farmers and reapers in Punjab have experienced rashes and skin irritations after harvesting Bt cotton,' Bhaskar added.

GM food crops are produced from genetically modified organisms (GMO) that have had their DNA altered through genetic engineering. This lends various attributes inherent to the organism to the plant. Drought, pest and cold resistance are some of its benefits.

'India already produces brinjal in plenty - we are the second largest producers in the world. The motive behind bringing this product to the market is just for satisfying the profiteering motives of MNCs at the cost of our people,' said Yudhvir Singh, a senior official from the Bhartiya Kisan Union.

A play was also performed to persuade the farmers against growing GM Crops.
3."Rules governing bio-safety aspects are inadequate"
The Hindu, 4 May 2008

*Concern over lack of public participation in policy-making

*‘Rules governing import, storage of hazardous micro-organisms are inadequate’

*‘There are no district level Bio-technology Coordination Committees in any State’

JAIPUR: Civil society organisations working on the food security issues here have expressed concern over what they describe as lack of public participation in policy-making on bio-safety in India in the run-up to the international conference of the signatories to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety to be held in Bonn, Germany, from May 12 to 16.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety the first international regulatory framework for safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms addresses the potential for harm of genetic engineering on the environment and human health. India signed and ratified the protocol in January 2003.

Bio-diversity activist and secretary of the Jaipur-based Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants’ Society (CECOEDECON), Sharad Joshi, said here on Saturday that the rules governing the aspects such as use, import and storage of hazardous micro-organisms and genetically engineered organisms in the country were inadequate to address the protocol’s mandate.

Right to safe food

CECOEDECON is one of the members of the Save Food Coalition campaigning for the right to safe food as a fundamental right and working for public awareness, capacity building and advocacy on the subject. The coalition is supported by the groups such as the Gene Campaign, Food Trade and Nutrition Alliance-Asia and Pairvi.

Mr. Joshi said there was an “ambiguity” in the roles assigned to various agencies formed under the rules for handling matters pertaining to genetically modified organisms and some of them existed merely on paper “with no implementation at the ground level”.

While the State Bio-technology Coordination Committees have been constituted only in three States, there are no district level committees in any State. Mr. Joshi said there was no mechanism in place to promote education and participation, incorporate socio-economic considerations and provide for an effective liability and redress regime.

Mr. Joshi will attend a parallel conference on “Planet diversity” focusing on the future of the local, diverse and genetic modification-free food and farming on the sidelines of the Bonn conference on the Cartagena Protocol as a representative of grassroots farmers in Rajasthan.


While the official conference will review the implementation of the protocol, the parallel event will highlight the miseries of farmers caused by GM technology and the threat posed by it to bio-diversity and livelihoods of millions of people. Mr. Joshi said he would raise the issue of “reckless introduction” of GM seeds during the conference. Mr. Joshi pointed out that India was still far from developing any liability regulatory framework under the Cartagena Protocol.
4.Greenpeace uncovers illegal GM food in India

New Delhi, 2 May, 2008: Greenpeace today confirmed the presence of illegal Genetically Modified [GM] food in India at a press conference. Tests conducted at an independent laboratory on products picked up randomly from a supermarket in New Delhi has revealed that Pepsico’s Doritos Corn Chips contain genetically modified Mon 863 and NK 603 variety corn ingredients. [1]

Both Mon 863 and NK 603 are Monsanto’s genetically modified corn varieties. Mon 863 has a bacterial gene to give pest tolerance, while NK 603 has a bacterial gene for herbicide tolerance. An Independent analysis last year, done by the Committee for Independent Research and Information On Genetic Engineering [Crii-Gen] lead by Prof Gilles Eric Seralini, a member of the French National Committee For Risk Assessment of GMOs had concluded that both Mon 863 and NK 603 pose serious health impacts [2]. The debate that ensued led many countries in Europe including France and Romania to stop the cultivation of GM corn. None of these varieties have been approved in India for human consumption.

“Though India has a law prohibiting the sale of any genetically modified food products with out the permission of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee [3], the presence of these products in the supermarket shelves proves that the regulatory system is in shambles. India seems to have become a dumping ground for genetically modified products that have been rejected due to their risk to health elsewhere,” said Rajesh Krishnan, Campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, Greenpeace India.

Greenpeace had received RTI responses from the Director General of Health services, Director General of Foreign Trade and the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the three agencies involved in regulation of import of Genetically Modified food in the country, declaring that no permission has been granted for the import and sale of any Genetically modified Food in India other than purified Soya oil [3].

“This is a serious violation of people’s right to safe food as consumers are being kept ignorant of the presence of potentially dangerous GM ingredients in the food products. There is growing scientific evidence on the health hazards of GM foods across the world and it cannot be ignored any more. The mandate of keeping hazardous food out of the country should be the duty of the Health Ministry and it should take immediate steps to stop the illegal entry of these foods,” said Dr Mira Shiva, of the Initiative for Health, Equity and Society.

Greenpeace is demanding that the Health ministry take notice of this serious violation and threat to human health and constitute the Food Safety and Standards Authority at the earliest.
In the meanwhile,
1. Effect an immediate confiscation of these products from the market, keeping in mind their potential health risk.

2. All imported food products should be embargoed and tested for any GM contamination and GM products found should be rejected.

For further information please contact:
Jayashree Nandi- Greenpeace India Communications, +91-9343868011, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rajesh Krishnan, Campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, +91-9845650032, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes to the Editor:

[1] Greenpeace had picked up 3 random products containing corn from Le Marche, a super market in Vasant Vihar in January this year. The products were sent to an independent laboratory for DNA analysis for confirmation of the presence of GM ingredients. The PCR analysis had confirmed the presence of the GM ingredients in the corn chips. The test results are available with Greenpeace and can be shared on request.

[2] The study on Mon 863 was published in the American journal, Archives of Environmental contamination and toxicology dated May 2007, and is available on line 86b28812&pi=18

[3] Under the Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro Organisms Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells (1989), Rule 7 (1) states "No person shall import, export, transport, manufacture, process, use or sell any hazardous micro organisms, genetically engineered organisms/substances or cells except with the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee." Rule 11 states: "Foodstuff, ingredients in food stuffs and additives including processing and containing or consisting of genetically engineered organisms or cells, shall not be produced, sold, imported or used except with the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee."

[4] The RTI responses have been annexured.

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