India's PM targeted by lab rat campaign
1.I AM NO LAB RAT campaign now targets the Prime Minister
2.MAHESH BHATT EXPOSES BIO-TERRORISM
3.India plans network project on 12 GM crops
4.GM breakthroughs can help solve global food crisis
NOTE: Check out the superb I AM NO LAB RAT campaign website - lots of campaigning images, a video of India's Health Minister declaring his opposition to GM, an amusing animated top menu, and the petition to the PM. (see item 1)
1.I AM NO LAB RAT campaign now targets the Prime Minister
Press Release, February 10 2009
Stepping up the pressure on the Government of India, the Coalition for a GM-Free India today began the next phase of the consumer mobilisation campaign against Genetically Modified (GM) foods like Bt Brinjal called "I AM NO LAB RAT".
Having successfully secured assurances in the last phase from the Union Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, the current phase of the "I AM NO LAB RAT" campaign is targeted at the Prime Minister of India.
Thousands of consumers from across the country have started petitioning the Prime Minister, urging him to intervene in the matter and assure them that this giant, irreversible experiment in the form of GM foods will not be unleashed on them, making them into guinea pigs.
The Coalition reminded the Prime Minister of UPA's National Common Minimum Programme where the UPA committed under its health policy ("Ensuring a healthy future") that the greatest accent would be placed on preventive and primary health.
"This is the time to show your commitment to the agenda for action set out a few years ago", the Coalition reminded the Prime Minister. Copies of the petitions are also being sent to the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi.
"I AM NO LAB RAT" campaign is reaching out to thousands of Indians in unique ways with the belief that informed debate on the issue of GM foods is important for democratic decision-making on something as fundamental as the food that we eat.
"No one should snatch away a citizen's basic right to know what s/he is eating, the right to decide what s/he would like to eat and the right to safe food. Please do not allow yourselves to be made into lab rats in this experiment with GM foods" is the message being put out by hundreds of active volunteers in different cities and towns of the country. The campaign is being run by volunteers drawn from all walks of life - lawyers, doctors, business people, students, activists, artists etc.
"It is well known that wherever there has been an informed debate on the issue of GM foods, there has been an overwhelming rejection of such foods by consumers. In fact, that is one of the reasons why the industry and biotech proponents within the regulators are always for hasty fast-track approvals. That is however very undemocratic and unacceptable.
"Our experience with consumers shows that they tend to shun such foods and there is an increasing demand everywhere for foods produced through ecological farming. Our outreach to consumers is also part of a larger attempt to democratise science & technology policy- and decision-making in this country", said Devinder Sharma, Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security.
Consumers in the cities of Delhi, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jaipur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Allahabad, Bhopal, Indore, Surat, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Bhubaneswar, Pune, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Trivandrum and Chennai have benefited from the information being put out by the campaign's volunteers. Street plays, film screenings, lectures, workshops, events like cycle rallies, candle light vigils etc., are all being used by the campaign in its messaging.
The voices of the campaigners have been strengthened by the launch of a film by Ajay Kanchan featuring Mahesh Bhatt, called "Poison on the Platter". Further, the medical fraternity in various states is coming forward asking the government to exercise caution and urging consumers to reject GM foods. Recently, other well-known personalities like Baba Ramdev have also come out openly against GM foods. Campaigners urged citizens to visit www.iamnolabrat.com for more information and for taking online action.
For more information, contact Kavitha Kuruganti at the contacts given below.
Kheti Virasat Mission
Jaitu, Faridkot dist., Punjab
2.MAHESH BHATT EXPOSES BIO-TERRORISM
Eye TV India Bureau, 10 Feb 2009
Renowned filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt will launch, what he describes as a highly thought provoking documentary film 'Poison on the Platter', directed by Ajay Kanchan, that exposes the nexus between biotech multinational companies from the US and Government regulatory bodies in India. The screening of the film took place on Wednesday 4 February 2009, in New Delhi. Described as the first ever Indian documentary on adverse health impact of GM foods, Bhatt's film makes a mockery of Government of India's claim of not allowing import of any GM foods in the country as it conclusively demonstrates that supermarkets in India are flooded with harmful food stuff and biotech MNCs are cashing on the ignorance of unsuspecting consumers in India.
Talking about the reason why he chose to associate himself with this issue, Bhatt says, "in their mad rush to capture the multi-billion dollar Indian agricultural and food industry, the biotech MNCs are bulldozing warnings by scientists about the adverse impact of GM foods on health and environment, and hurtling the mankind toward a disaster, which will be far more destructive than anything the world has seen so far, simply because it will affect every single person living on this planet". The screening of the film was followed by a panel discussion. Besides Bhatt renowned US author Jeffrey M. Smith, noted Indian food policy analyst Devinder Sharma, and the director of the film Ajay Kanchan participated in the discussion.
3.India plans network project on 12 transgenic crops
NewKerala, December 18, 2003
NEW DELHI -- India is planning a project to develop 12 transgenic crops to improve their resistance to diseases and pests, biotic stresses and extend shelf life.
"A network project on transgenics, covering 12 crops is on the anvil," Agriculture Minister Rajnath Singh said here Thursday.
"The proposed research project of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) will cover maize, pigeonpea, chickpea, soybean, cotton, brassica, tomato, brinjal, banana, papaya, potato and cassava," Singh told a meeting of parliament`s consultative committee attached to his ministry.
The project will focus on specially targeted trait improvement such as resistance to insect pests, fungal diseases and viral diseases, tolerance to abiotic stresses like cold and drought and extended shelf life for the 12 crops.
"Other crops may be included as the programme develops," Singh told MPs.
Globally, genetically modified (GM) crop varieties covered an area of 58.7 million hectares in 2002. The principal biotech crops were soybean, corn, cotton and canola.
In India, only transgenic Bt cotton hybrids - MECH-184, MECH-162 and MECH-12 - were approved for commercial cultivation last year.
Singh said initial steps had been taken for indigenous development of transgenics in India in rice, cotton, potato, mustard, pigeonpea, chickpea, brinjal, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, tobacco, pulses, castor and groundnut to address the problems of resistance or endurance to biotic and abiotic stress factors or those related to nutritional factors.
Transgenic lines developed in different crop species by ICAR institutions, as well as other state-owned and private sector institutions are under various stages of development or testing in the country.
"Advances have been made at ICAR experimentation plots in transgenic potato in terms of improved nutritional quality and balanced amino acid composition," Singh said.
Given the continuing apprehension of environmentalists who differ with the government on the success of Bt cotton hybrids, the MPs stressed the need for proper assessment of risk factors involved, and for proper communication between scientists and farmers.
4.Agri-biotechnological breakthroughs can help solve global food crisis
ICRISAT, February 9 2009
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, have together launched the project for establishing a Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC). The foundation stone for the PTTC was laid by Dr MK Bhan, Secretary, DBT, and Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, at the Patancheru campus of ICRISAT, near Hyderabad, today.
The DBT-funded Platform is a US$ 6.2 million project that will translate transgenic technology and harness its products to meet the needs of agricultural growth and serve as a facility of reference to strengthen national, regional and international linkages in transgenic R&D, exchange of materials and information, as well as support training, consultation and technology commercialization.
The PTTC will provide an opportunity for public sector research institutes and private sector biotechnology companies to work together for translating transgenic research into products.
Speaking at the foundation stone laying function, Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, said that research breakthroughs in agri-biotechnology hold the potential for increasing crop productivity and the resistance of food crops to pests and diseases, thereby helping solve the food crisis. The future food demand cannot be met merely from incremental gains from conventional plant breeding. A quantum change in yield improvement is needed, such as that which occurred during the Green Revolution.
Finding solutions to major crop productivity constraints, developing new technologies that raise yields in low-potential areas and creating opportunities for diversification in agricultural value chains are some of the major present day agricultural challenges, Dr Dar added.
Agri-biotechnologies are a further step in an evolution that extends from the dawn of agriculture. These technologies offer a new set of tools to enhance crop productivity and profitability.
In 2008, another 40 million people were pushed into hunger due to high food prices! A majority of the world's undernourished, over 900 million, live in developing countries alone! The world hunger crisis may further deteriorate as the financial crisis combined with the energy crisis, and emerging climate change issues threaten livelihoods. Hence combating the food crisis will require much greater investments in agriculture.
ICRISAT believes that biotechnology can contribute to global food, feed and fiber security; improve health and nutrition; use less external inputs for a more sustainable agriculture and environment; conserve biodiversity and help improve economic and social status and alleviate poverty in poor countries, Dr Dar said.
Transgenics offers a powerful tool for nutritional enhancement that may save lives or help farmers adapt to climate change through faster integration of genes for drought and flood tolerance, in the process generating social, economic and environmental benefits for resource-poor farmers.
According to Dr Bhan, the PTTC will bring together the expertise of DBT and ICRISAT and build partnerships to strengthen the conceptualization, development and delivery of agri-biotechnological research products that will ultimately benefit the Indian farmers in improving their incomes.
By financially supporting the PTTC, the DBT wants to fund research and provide infrastructure for innovation, so that transgenic technology can strengthen agricultural productivity, Dr Bhan said. The PTTC will add value to research by strengthening trust and reliability. The Platform will also bring together the unlimited creative strength of partnerships for strengthening agricultural research.
S Gopikrishna Warrier
Lead Media Officer