Protests against Bayer GM rice trials

Greenpeace Press Release

Volunteers, Amla join Greenpeace to court arrest

Call on Jairam Ramesh to protect rice from Bayer contamination

Hyderabad, 10 July 2009: 3 weeks after the direct action taken by volunteers on the hazardous GM rice field trials in Chinna Kanjarla village of Patancheru, Greenpeace activists along with noted actor and social rights activist Amala Akkineni, courted arrest at the Patancheru Police station today. "What would Gandhi have done?" asked Jai krisha announcing the launch of a campaign against Bayer's GM rice field trials.

Among those volunteering to court arrest Amala said ‘The Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi led by example and showed that some citizen rights are not to be negotiated. The right to safe food is one of them. We must demand from our government to be responsible and be on the side of citizens. It is an honour to be a part of a just battle. I don’t think anyone in Hyderabad wants GM briyani’

On July 22, five Greenpeace volunteers cordoned off a genetically modified (GM) rice field trial of Bayer Bio Science and planted scare crows and painted the words ‘Bio Hazard” on it. Greenpeace was officially informed a week later that Bayer has indeed pressed unwarranted charges over 35 individuals, including the general public and media who were present in the vicinity. The charges against the activists are trespassing, causing damage and even criminal intimidation (under Sec. 427, 447, 506 read along with 34 of the Indian Penal Code).

“This is clearly a move to silence any opposition to the unrestrained release of risky GM crops into our food chain. Citizens have the right to protest against unhealthy and hazardous GM food trials. If disobeying the law can stop GM rice from contaminating our rich rice biodiversity then so be it, we will do it again. The rights of farmers to save their seeds and the rights of consumers to have safe food is more important than a company’s profits” said Jai Krishna.

Safety tests were done on Bt brinjal and assessed recently, about which Dr. Gilles Eric Seralini, from the University Of Caen, France said “that Bt brinjal present a serious risk for human and animal health and the release should be forbidden”. The reports of death of hundreds of sheep and goats in Warangal district was also linked to the consumption of Bt cotton stalks and leaves. There has been no clear scientific evidence so far disproving the observations of the farmers and shepherds.

Official information from the government has confirmed that there are plans to release about 170 GM varieties of GM food grains in 41 different crops. Rice is the most researched crops and more than 25 varities of GM rice are being experimented.

For more information, please contact:

Jai Krishna, Greenpeace India Sustainable Agriculture campaigner
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t. +91-9845591992

Stella Paul
Greenpeace India Communications officer
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t. +919845068125