1. India: Farmers destroy transgenic rice
2. Farmers nix GM rice trials: KRRS activists oppose open-air experiment of DuPont’s rice strains

Farmers destroy GM rice trials by DuPont in India - video:
1. Farmers destroy transgenic rice
Staff Reporter
The Hindu
Nov 18, 2010

BANGALORE: A transgenic rice variety, currently under trials at the Krishi Vignan Kendra of the University of Agriculture Sciences (UAS) in Doddaballapur taluk, near here, was destroyed by farmers on Wednesday.

A group of sickle-wielding farmers, owing allegiance to the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), barged into the 30-acre KVK premises at Hadonahalli, where the hybrid rice Seed Production Technology (SPT) developed by DuPont is undergoing ‘event selection trials' on a one-acre area, and committed the act.

About 30 activists entered the fenced one-acre area around 8.40 a.m., and destroyed the crop in about an hour's time before the Doddaballapur Rural police arrested them.

75 p.c. loss

An official at KVK estimated that the farmers destroyed about 75 per cent of the crop. Following the incident, the UAS has decided to destroy the remaining crop and cancel the field trial.

"The UAS has undertaken the trial clandestinely, and farmers in the neighbourhood have been kept in the dark.

"We will not allow field trials of transgenic crops developed by multinational companies in our area," KRRS leader and veterinarian C.S. Srinivas, told The Hindu. For, there is always a fear of contamination, he said.

The event selection trials have been approved by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee .

According to a Greenpeace activist, SPT technology is a proprietary technology of DuPont that allows increase of large quantities of genetically male sterile female inbred parent seed.

A top UAS official said that the project came to the university through Union Department of Biotechnology for a period of one year, and that the university was only a facilitator and regulator of bio-safety on field.

"It is unfortunate that the incident took place when the paddy was ready for harvesting over the next 7 to 10 days."

Display boards put up at the field on information about the trials said that the paddy had been sown between July 20 and July 23, and transplanted on August 12.

The duration of the crop is 140 days.

The trial is being monitored by Head, Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding at UAS Shailaja Hittalmani, while N. Rajanna is the Programme Coordinator.

A few farmers owning land in close proximity to the research station also said that they had been asked not to grow paddy during this season.

"I normally grow paddy, but the university authorities asked me not to raise paddy crop this season. We were not told the reason," N. Srinivas, who owns two acres adjoining the KVK, said and added that the authorities had informed about the possible crossing if he raised paddy during this season.

Meanwhile, vice-president fo the KRRS Venkata Reddy said that the genetically modified rice field trials had major violations and that the local panchayat was not informed. Though the Hadonahalli Gram Panchayat president H.A. Nagaraju acknowledged that information of the field trials had not been given to the panchayat, he, however, said KVK had benefited farmers in the vicinity.

Sixteen farmers who were arrested on charges of trespassing and destruction of property were later released on bail.
2. Farmers nix GM rice trials
KRRS activists oppose open-air experiment of Dupont’s rice strains
Deccan Herald
Doddaballapur, Nov 17, DHNS

Hundreds of farmers on Wednesday sent out a strong warning to the multinational seed corporations trying to take control over the country’s seed sector, by stopping the field trial of Dupont’s genetically modified (GM) rice here.

The open-air experimental trial was being conducted at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), under GKVK by the multinational seed major. Hundreds of farmers from the area, owing allegiance to the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, assembled at the KVK and staged a protest demonstration against the field trials of GM crops.

The trials were recently permitted by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the nodal agency for GM crop releases in India, at its 103rd meeting held in New Delhi on 29th September, 2010. Dupont, the second largest seed corporation in the world after Monsanto, is developing a GM rice strain using a transgenic seed production technology (SPT), that can be used for commercial hybrid seed production.

"The farmer will oppose any such open releases of GM crops as they are a step towards surrendering our agriculture to US multinational companies who are out to control our seed and thereby our agriculture," KRRS vice-president Venkata Reddy, who led the protest, declared.

Addressing the farmers, he said GM rice posed a threat to farmers and consumers due to the health and environmental implications it entailed, as borne out by many scientific studies across the world.

Earlier in the year, Bt brinjal, the first GM food crop to reach the commercialisation stage, was put under an indefinite moratorium by the Union Environment Ministry, owing to strong opposition from all sections of society.  Since then, seed companies and their backers in the government have been trying to push for open-air experiments of a variety of GM crops, including GM rice.

Reddy highlighted the major violations in the field trial at the KVK and said no information was given to the local panchayat on the conduct of the trials as required by the existing rules.

"People in the region had been kept in the dark about such dangerous experiments with no information boards placed outside the field trial areas to warn people about the experiment. There was also free access to the trial plot which, in the absence of any a warning, could lead to the seeds going out of the trial region and thereby mixing up and contaminating other regular rice varieties which farmers in the region cultivated," he said.

Apprehensive of such a threat, the Kerala government had banned any open releases, including experiments, of GM rice, Reddy said and urged the Karnataka government to declare the State GM-free. He also urged public sector research institutions in Karnataka to desist from getting into ventures with MNC seed companies that posed a grave risk to the farmers.