Scientists warn against GM foods
1.Scientists warn against GM foods
2.Support justice in Bhopal
1. Scientists warn against GM foods
By Rashme Sehgal
Asian Age, June 5 2008
New Delhi: Scientists warn that the genetically modified (GM) foods that are set to hit the market will do so without having undergone mandatory safety assessments.
Thirty-two crops are currently being researched across 111 government and 50 private institutes with 14 having entered the trial stage.
These, they decry, will increase health risks to the general public.
BT brinjal is expected to hit the market within the next six months without undergoing the necessary trials. Switzerland and other European countries have placed a moratorium of 12 years for all GM foods.
Dr Pushpa Bhargava, a genetic biologist and former vice-chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, warned against the flouting of scientific norms to push GM foods into the market.
Speaking at a "Food Safety, Bio Safety and GM Foods" meet organised by Navdanya, Dr Bhargava stated that no comprehensive risk assessment had been done on the effect of Bt plants on either the soil or the surrounding fauna.
Dr V.S. Vijayan, chairman of Kerala State Biodiversity Board, pointed out that tests currently being done to study toxicity and allergenecity were being conducted by Monsanto, the world’s largest supplier of seeds, which is pushing for this technology in India, or else by groups who received the samples by the applicant itself.
Key chronic toxicity tests that have long term effects that can result in cancer and other diseases have not been conducted.
It was shocking that in West Bengal, trials on Bt okra started in mid-August 2007 on the basis of approval by the panchayat members.
"What knowledge do panchayats have about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and GM foods especially since they are susceptible to all kinds of pressure? The State Biotechnology Coordination Committee had not approved these trials and the agriculture university monitoring them had given it a damning report," Dr Bhargava added.
Many scientists believe many of the tests being claimed may never have been conducted in the first place.
2. Support justice in Bhopal
Last week, the Prime Minister of India sent Minister Prithviraj Chavan to the protest site of the Bhopal survivors to announce his response to many of their demands. Unfortunately the statement made no specific commitments to a proper timeline for establishing a special commission on Bhopal, one of the principle demands. The statement also did not support many of the other important demands about bringing legal action against Dow Chemical, the company liable for the ongoing disasters in Bhopal, such as de-registering Dursban, a dangerous chemical that is banned in the US but that Dow is selling in India.
The Prime Minister will be having a high-level meeting to discuss the remaining demands TODAY. Please take action right now send him a free fax urging him to fully agree to all of the Bhopalis' demands. Please follow the link to send the fax, and forward this to your friends, asking them to also support the Bhopal survivors.
Although the Bhopalis thanked the Prime Minister for his timid agreement to establishing a special commission, they vowed to continue their protest until all demands were fully met. A group of survivors of the Bhopal Gas disaster walked from Bhopal to New Delhi in February. Since reaching Delhi, they have been joined by hundreds of other survivors and supporters, and the protesters have been sitting in the extreme New Delhi heat for over 60 days. They are asking their government to establish a special commission to deal with the health, environmental, economic, social, and water issue that continue to plague the people of Bhopal. They are also asking their government to take legal action against Union Carbide (UC) and it's parent company Dow Chemical. The government must seek money from Dow for the clean up, extradite UC leaders to bring them to trial, revoke approval of UC technology, and de-register Dursban. The Bhopalis cannot return home until the Prime Minister ensures that there will be justice.
This is a new fax, so if you have already taken action, you can now take action again. Please take action to support the Bhopal survivors today!
Please send a fax to the Prime Minister now, tell him to meet ALL of the demands of the Bhopal survivors.
The Bhopalis have been in New Delhi for over 60 days. Please take 1 minute today to support them.
Shana Blustein Ortman
US Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal