Protest at Jantar Mantar and after
Subject: For Subhas Mahapatra: Outcome of the Jantar-Mantar Protest.
Dear Subhas Babu,
I have read all your mails to the people of my State, Orissa [India], trying to impress upon them that the only way Orissa can prosper is by welcoming the onslaught of GM crops. This was in response to my mail requesting people to attend the anti-GM protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on the 6th of May.
The protest at Jantar Mantar, I wish to inform you, went off really well. Nearly a thousand people, representing 15 States attended. Activists from all over India converged to show their solidarity.
The farmers were the most angry lot. They wanted to know why the government had forced Bt Cotton upon them without being fully aware of the consequences. They narrated how;
1. Yields started falling after three years, and now the crop was not worth harvesting.
2. Existing pests developed resistance, new pests appeared. They now spend more on pesticides than they did on hybrids.
3. Soil quality has deteriorated so much that nothing now grows after Bt Cotton is cultivated and harvested.
4. All those who came into contact with the cotton suffered allergies.
5. Cattle died in large numbers and fell sick after being fed Bt Cotton straw. In Andhra Pradesh post mortem revealed the role of the Bt toxin.
The farmers were frothing in anger and demanding compensation. Subhas Babu, can I give them your email, phone number and address so that they can contact you and get compensated?
The public was at a loss how the government was so eager to promote Bt Brinjal and GM crop despite observing deaths of cattle in Bt Cotton fields.
Doctors of the JSA and PHA were present to express their solidarity as well. MP's , social activists, pointed out how the government was acting on the behest of the USA. The nuclear deal, they said, was tied to the takeover of Indian agriculture by MNCs like Monsanto & Wall Mart. They said "agents" of these MNCs are now busy extolling the virtues of GM crops in various forums.
The farmers took out a rally with the "dead body" of Bt Brinjal and performed the cremation in front of the Supreme Court. Another team collected the anti-GM petition signatures brought in from all over the country and handed them over to Sri Sharad Pawar, Hon'ble Agriculture Minister.
All the major media in Delhi turned up to cover the event. Many of them listened throughout and realised the gravity of the situation.
In the evening came the news that GM seed MNC representatives had spread out to the media offices trying to block the news coverage. However the media did not relent and all the newspapers carried the report. The GM seed producers were so afraid of the "lies" that were told in the protest meet and were concerned about the "safety" of the Indians who would "harm" themselves by rejecting GM crops once they read about the "lies" and started asking questions!
You must also have heard that Dr P M Bhargava, Vice Chairman, Knowledge Commission, appointed by Supreme Court to oversee the GM licensing process has expressed grave apprehensions over the process and demanded to see the safety data first.
Some activists stated in the rally that RTI applications brought forth the amazing reply that "GM crops are safe because the GM seed manufacturers say so". The wolves are now guarding the hen house!!
Subhas Babu, may we ask you which scientists you have employed and what tests on which subjects have been conducted by you in which laboratories for you to so emphatically declare that GM crops are safe?
Lesser known scientists than you like Dr Arpad Putszai, the scientist appointed to check the safety of GM crops, was so devastated to see the effects on mice that he decided to make his findings public. Others too have followed his example..
Our online petition asking for a ban on the entry of Bt Cotton into Orissa drew the attention of the public all over the world who have warned the State Government and asked it to desist from such an act.
Why should we listen to you and not the 530 who have signed the petition?
Here is what Jenniffer Ruby, a toxin activist wrote in the petition:
"This BT creates Toxins that are not only killing our bees; but butterflys and creating autism in our kids, This BT together with Chlordimeform, used to enhance the BT Pesticide makes Cry Toxins especially destructive. It is an Octopamine inhibitor, and insects as well as people who eat these crops lose their ability to detoxify, as well as relate to each other socially, and work together as a group. The bees cannot find their way home....They lose their awareness of their surroundings, similar to autistic children. This combination kills off the neurotransmitter that is vitally important both in insects and people. Please reconsider. No amount of money and profit makes the risks important enough to take a chance. Take a look at statistics. BT + Chlordimeform, and the rise in Autism, Alzheimers, Loss of our crops pollinators - the bees and butterflys. There's significant correlation if you look!"
Writes Dr G I Singh, "Dangerous implications,unscientific adventure with strange voluntary blindfold to potential frankenstein endangering the nation's genetic pool forever. Pl do not play into the hands of profiteers whose stated policy is to take over the food supply chain of gullible developing countries."
Says film maker Vinod Raja, "Many years ago, I filmed the devastation in Andhra Pradesh, do we have to see the same in Orissa? Hope wisdom & sanity prevail."
Satish Natarajan demands, "It is time we realise the dangers of these artificial technologies which have not been completely understood by the scientists. Government should ask the producers to show reports on how Bt has fared in terms on health of human and animal and the environment. The first thing should be that the producers themselves and all their employees should be fed Bt rice and Bt brinjal for a period of one year before it is introduced in a large scale."
Subhas Babu, would you agree that you and your family be fed exclusively GM food in a laboratory in India before it is allowed in this country. If you say yes I will request the Health Ministry and the ICMR to immediately contact you.
Writes Linn Cohen Cole, "Monsanto, the corporation pushing the introduction of Bt-cotton into Orissa, is infamous in the United States for its products and its practices. Products: Agent Orange, PCBs, 56 Superfund toxic dump sites, nuclear weapon components, pesticides. Practices: lying for years about the cancer-causing effects of PCBs, banning information related to its products, hiding negative studies on its products, altering numbers on its studies, bribing officials, undermining democratic functioning in areas it works in. They are considered one of the worst corporations on earth. Please read: www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto/200805 and watch http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=842180934463681887. Why would you bother to get rid of the British and then voluntarily turn around and go into any sort of arrangement with this power hungry, lying, dangerous, taking massive control of food-animals-water, poisoning-of-all-it-touches empire? When do you see their history, danger and immorality?"
Writes Sepp Hassleberger, "Although I am not resident in India, I feel strongly that genetically modified plants have no place in modern agriculture. They are an as yet unexplored danger to our natural habitat. No proper assessments of their environmental and their health impact has been performed, notwithstanding statements to the contrary."
Are all these people fools Subhas Babu, and you are the only one that is speaking the truth?
I will leave it to the people of my State to decide.
- Sri Subhas Mahapatra may kindly be contacted if he can pay compensation to the bereaved families of farmers who committed suicide in the Bt Cotton fields. He and his family may also be contacted on whether they will agree to conduct the tests on themselves which we farmers and activists have been demanding all along.