1.Genetically Modified seed firms rule India: Judge
2.Government against GM seed trials: Minister
3.Union Minister calls for detailed study on GM crop impact
1. Genetically Modified seed firms rule India: Judge
Express News Service, June 16 2008 [shortened]

CHENNAI: After East India Company, it was multi-national companies producing Genetically Modified (GM) crops ruling post-independent India, said Justice Ramasubramanian on Sunday.

Speaking at a conference on 'GM seeds and available legal support' here, he referred to Saint Tiruvalluvar's couplet and said a millennium ago, Tiruvalluvar had written about the negative effects of GM crops.
2.[Kerala]  State Government against GM seed trials: Minister
The Hindu, June 15 2008

*Move will guard State's spices
*Says Swaminathan panel has opposed GM trials
*Rules out any knowledge of field trials in Palakkad

Thiruvananthapuram: Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has reiterated the State government stand against field trials of genetically modified seeds.

Addressing the "National Summit on GM Crops," organised by the Sastra Vedi, an arm of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, here on Saturday, Mr. Ratnakaran said the decision not to allow field trials would protect Kerala's spices which had a large market in European countries that were opposed to GM crops and food.

The situation was serious enough for India to declare the basmati growing tracts of Western India as GM free zone, he said. Besides, M.S. Swaminathan Committee report had opposed GM trials in biodiversity hotspots of the Western Ghats and the Himalayas.

The State Government stand was that the trials should not be conducted when the entire world was debating the pros and cons of GM crops and food. Even in the U.S., which had adopted GM crops in a large scale, the debate was going on with farmers, academics and environmentalists opposing huge multinationals such as Monsanto. Environmentalists had opposed GM crops on the ground that it was against nature.

Out of the 147 countries that participated in the recent U.N. bio safety conference in Bonn, 146 had opposed GM crops. The U.S. was the only supporter of GM crops, Mr. Ratnakaran said.

He recalled how the approval committee for BT cotton could not give a fair answer to the Supreme Court's queries on its impact on health. Subsequently, the court inducted Dr. Swaminathan and Pushp Bharghava to re-examine the issue. Mr. Ratnakaran said the claims that BT cotton had led to increase in productivity was debatable, considering the high farmers' suicide rates in the cotton belt of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

He also referred to the connection between the country's fight against imperialism and cotton during the freedom struggle to emphasise that the country should be wary of such forces.

Referring to the reported field trials in Palakkad, the Agriculture Minister said the State government would not allow field trials till there was a consensus on the issue. Besides, the farmers, the State government and other stakeholders were not informed about the trials, he said. He called for more debates on issues related to productivity, impact on human, biodiversity, culture and life styles.
3. Ravi calls for detailed study on GM crop impact
Warns against its use without consensus
The Hindu, June 15 2008

Thiruvananthapuram: Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has called for a detailed study on the impact of genetically modified (GM) crops on farmers and consumers.

Inaugurating the 'National summit on GM crops,' organised by the Sastra Vedi, an arm of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, here on Saturday, Mr. Ravi referred to the opposition worldwide to GM crops and food to warn against its use in the country without a consensus. While issues related to productivity, food security and health were important, there were many other related issues that should be tackled before GM crops could be adopted in a large-scale.

He said India had already installed the necessary safeguards and regulations relating to GM crops, but the debate should continue. The seed policy should be discussed in the context of its pricing.

He feared that the price of seed would increase, forcing a hike in the cost of production and its impact on the consumers.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, who delivered the keynote address, said he had an open mind on adoption of GM crops. "The State government should not approach the issue with a closed mind. Besides, the time was not yet ripe to close the debate on this."

He said Kerala had missed the bus twice in relation to mechanisation of farms and induction of computers. "The main issue before us is how to utilise opportunities. We have to be capable enough to recognise the good and bad in a new technology."

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, who presided over the inaugural session, also emphasised on the need for debates on the pros and cons of adopting GM food.

KPCC general secretary E.M. Augusthy, who is also chief coordinator of the summit, welcomed the gathering.