Hamara Beej

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chhattisgarh seeks ban on GM food cultivation


STAFF WRITER 17:27 HRS ISTNew Delhi, Oct 31 (PTI) The Chhattisgarh government has sought the intervention of Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in not allowing commercial cultivation of genetically modified BT brinjal in the country.

"We are seeking the intervention of the environment minister to stop commercial cultivation of BT brinjal. We have already sent a letter to Jairam Ramesh and also the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in this regard," Chhattisgarh Agriculture Minister Chandrashekhar Sahu told PTI here today.

Biotechnology regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on October 14 had cleared Bt brinjal - the country's first genetically modified (GM) food ? for commercial use. The government is, however, yet to take a decision on the matter.

Sahu said the committee's decision was taken in haste so as to serve the "vested commercial interest of multi-national companies such as Monsanto" which are involved in developing genetically-modified crops.

GE cultivation bans in Europe

Austria: Ban on cultivation of Monsanto’s maize MON 810, MON  863 and T25

Notified in June 1999, initially under Article 16 of Directive 90/220/EEC, and subsequently maintained in February 2004 under Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC;

France: Ban on cultivation of Monsanto’s maize MON 810.
Notified in February  2008, under Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC; and under EU Regulation 1829/2003

Germany: in April 2009 the agriculture Minister, Ms. Aigner, announced a ban on cultivation and sale of MON 810

Greece: Ban on cultivation of Monsanto’s maize MON 810. 
Application lodged in April 2005 under Article 18 of Directive 2002/53/EC, and subsequently in January 2006 extended/maintained the measure under Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC;

Hungary: Ban on cultivation of Monsanto’s maize MON 810.
Notified in September 2006, under Article 23 of Directive   2001/18/EC;

Italy: General ban on the cultivation of all genetically engineered (GE) crops. 
Notified by ministerial circular in March 2006. This ban will stay in place until the Italian regions have regulated the “coexistence” between GE, conventional and organic crops.

Luxembourg : Ban on cultivation of Monsanto’s maize MON 810.
Notified in March 2009, under Directive 2001/18/EC

Poland: Ban on cultivation of Monsanto’s maize MON 810. 
Application lodged in March 2005 under Article 16 of Directive 2002/53/EC ( The EU’s Seeds Directive). The ban under the Seeds Directive affects 16 out of 31 MON 810 varieties. However, in May 2006 the Polish government complemented the ban with a general prohibition –based on national law- to sell any GE seeds in Poland.

Romania: Ban on cultivation of MON 810 maize announced by Environment minister Korodi on 27 March 2008. 
The Romanian government has indicated that it intends to install the ban on the same legal grounds as France:  under Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC; and under EU Regulation 1829/2003. Enactment of the ban is expected in April 2008.

Switzerland: In 2005, the Swiss voted by referdendum a 5-year moratorium against the commercial cultivation of GM crops and animals. The Suiss government decided to extend this moratorium till 2013.


GM crops like East India Co, say authorities in Madhya Pradesh

30 October, 2009 10:38:00
By Sanjay Sharma - - - - Bhopal, Oct 30 (IANS) A Madhya Pradesh minister believes there is no difference between genetically modified (GM) crops and the East India Co, the British firm that began trading with India in 1600 but subsequently came to rule the country till 1858. And many farmers and activists agree with him.

"GM crops are the latest version of the way East India Co colonised India," said Farmer Welfare and Agriculture Development Minister Ramakrishna Kusmariya.         
"Commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal (a GM crop) will not be allowed in Madhya Pradesh," Kusmariya told IANS.         
The seeds will "destroy farming and enslave farmers", the minister said, adding: "The only way to save Indianagriculture is to keep the traditional seed exchange systems alive."         
Kusmariya conveyed the same message earlier this week to the   Coalition for a GM-Free Madhya Pradesh, an alliance of about 40 organisations opposed to GM crops.         
According to Neelesh Desai, an office-bearer of the coalition, "Kusmariya said Madhya Pradesh understands the dangers of GM food crops."         
The reaction comes after the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, India's biotechnology regulator, earlier this month approved the commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in the country.         
The Coalition for a GM-Free Madhya Pradesh says farmers' rights over their seeds and agriculture would be seriously jeopardised "if GM seeds like Monsanto's GM corn are allowed".         
"The state government should, as a real solution, shift farmers to low-cost, toxic-free ecological farming practices," said Prashant Dubey, a member of the Right to Food Campaign, a coalition member.         
"It is ridiculous to pump in crores of rupees to support rural employment in the form of NREGA and then take away existing employment potential in agriculture, especially for women and poor agricultural workers, by bringing in technologies like herbicide tolerance," Dubey added.         
NREGA or the National Rural Employment  Guarantee  Act, enacted in 2005, aims to provide 100 days of employment annually to adult members of any rural household willing to work on public service projects for a daily wage of Rs.100.         
Sachin Jain, a fellow activist at the Right To Food Campaign, said: "GM foods are unsafe and should be prohibited."         
Added Ishwar Tripathi of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, a farmers' group also affiliated to the coalition: "GM crops do not increase yields as claimed by the industry."         
Similarly, Hamara Beej Abhiyan, another organisation opposed to GM foods, wants Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala and Chhattisgarh, which "want to protect themselves from the onslaught of GM seeds", to put appropriate legislation in place.         
"There are many ecological alternatives to pest management and other issues that confront farmers," said Jayant Verma, a member of the organisation.         
(Sanjay Sharma can be contacted at sanjay.s@ians.in)       


Monday, October 26, 2009

Brinjal story: Original or Modified?

Brinjal has become the much talked about vegetable now. Debate is ongoing over the commercial viability of Bt Brinjal, a genetically modified (GM) crop even though it has got the approval of biotechnology regulator in India, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). If the NGOs and food experts have vented their disagreement with the proposal; the government on the other hand is not against the introduction. The decision for this though will be taken early next year. Government has specified that this step will be initiated only after having discussion with farmers, scientists, NGOs and consumer groups. The agricultural ministry has also made it official that it is not going to oppose the introduction without weighing the pros and cons.
At the same time voluntary organisations like Greenpeace has already opposed the move. The point which Greenpeace has raised is that since India is the country where Brinjal has originated it would be first time that in the same country genetically modified crop will also be grown. This can endanger bio-diversity. Apart from this, R.V.Giri, the secretary of Consortium of Indian Farmers Association of Tamil Nadu Chapter, has also raised concerns whether cultivation of this crop would render the lands unsuitable for any other crops. This would result in total dependence on Bt crops and the seeds of which will be much costly in comparison to original variety. It will also mean we would depend on US for importing Bt seeds.
Question is how the people react to this. Firstly, are they aware why this measure is being taken. Bt Brinjal is a transgenic crop tolerant to fruit and shoot borer (FSB). It is to be noted that this pest destroys a major bulk of this crop every year that is 60%-70% even after extensive use of insecticides. In a report prepared by Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR) Rs. 5952 per acre is spent to combat FSB in a cropping season. And the results are glaring. There has been emergence of secondary pests as primary pests became resistant to pesticides . Not to forget the possibility of health hazards for the farmers. The most critical factor is that pesticide residues are formed on the edible fruit.
We have to keep in mind that the current method of growing Brinjal is not sustainable as it entails to increasing cost of production and has toxic effects on crops. This procedure also has adverse impact on environment, soil and groundwater as pesticides has to be used at frequent intervals. Moreover, there is a challenge to increase agriculture production to meet the growing food needs of the country. GM crops suitably fit these requirements. Bt Brinjal has pest-resistant character after a gene (cry1Ac gene) is introduced in it. The gene is derived from bacillus thuringiensis a common soil bacterium and this is one of the reasons why Bt Brinjal is being considered.
But then the consumers should have choice over this, whether they want to consume GM crop or not. This would require a labelling system and the point is how this will work? Majority of the population in India do not go to supermarkets and departmental stores to buy vegetables but rely on hawkers and shops. So categorization at that level will be a tough task. Secondly, there are no suitable labs in India to test the GM product. Further, there is no clarity as to who is going to regulate these products whether it will be Ministry of Food, Health or any other department.
If there are apprehensions in the minds of the people whether GM crop would be safe or not, it is imperative on part of the government to make the public aware how such a thing is not going to cause any harm. We just cannot conclude by saying that GM crop is already being used in other countries and have been found to have no adverse effects. India has earlier approved Bt Cotton, the technology was successful in the lab but the reality on the field was quite different. Within few years Bt Cotton Bollgard II was launched owing to the increasing pest immunity to the first version. Moreover, 35 companies, which sold hybrid cotton started to sell only Bt cotton leaving no other option for the farmers. This time it is a question regarding an edible crop. If the proposal has got a nod after a research of seven years, in the same way the process should not be implemented in a hurry.
We also need to be very clear of our choices. The options we have are-we can either continue like this, go on eating 'organic' crop which is sustained through pesticides or look forward and accept a technology which may lead to betterment for the farmers and the food reserves of the country. This can bring a new revolution altogether in the agriculture sector of the country as we can look for ways to increase production for other crops as well. At the same time, there should be complete assurance that in no way it can have any side effects. If some scientists are arguing it as unsafe for consumption and some are branding it as safe, definitely governmentÂ’s initiative is very much required to clear the cloud of vagueness.
Government needs to put Bt Brinjal under stringent tests for allergenicity, toxicity and bio-safety before ensuring its commercial release. It also has to chalk out a plan on how it wants to go about as far as labelling and other regulatory procedures are concerned. Bio technology in agriculture holds new promise and we should keep our minds open in this case. The government along with this should also take proper measures to be transparent in its approach. We have to look into the fact how commercialization of Brinjal can affect the farmers. Change, if it comes for good first needs awareness and then confidence building. It is only then that people can accept it wholeheartedly.
-          By Shilpa Srivastava

Chhath puja ends with reverence to Surya Dev

News Desk - October 25, 2009
The four-day Chhath festival ended Sunday in Bihar with millions of devotees, mostly women, taking a dip in the Ganga river and praying to the rising sun. The devotees also ended their 36-hour long fast by offering prayers and floating lighted earthen lamps in the river. They sang folk songs and offered prayers to the sun god. “Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the banks of Ganga, other rivers, ponds and other water bodies across Bihar early (Sunday) morning to offer ‘Araghya’ to the rising sun to mark the end of Chhath puja,” said Savitri Devi, a devotee. Another devotee Purnima Yadav said the devout were waiting for sunrise and sang traditional songs in groups. At the break of dawn, they offered ritual and prayers for divine blessings. She said devotees had offered prayers to the setting sun Saturday. The offerings comprising fruits, home-made sweets like thekuas, pedas, pakwan, chawal ke laddoo, raw vegetables and the first crop from the fields were also distributed. All these sweets and offerings were arranged in scoops, baskets and trays made of bamboo.
Sun, considered the god of energy and life-force, is worshipped during Chhath for well-being, prosperity and progress.
A rare show of brotherhood and harmony was on display during the festival when people cutting across social barriers gathered to celebrate Chhath in villages and towns. Roads and river banks had been cleaned and decorated for the occasion.
The four-day long Chhath festival began Thursday when devotees took a dip in the rivers, a tradition known as ‘nahai khai’. It was followed by the ritual of ‘kharna’ Friday when sweet dishes were prepared. Much to the relief of the authorities, the festival passed off peacefully across the state.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Orissa bans Bt Brinjal citing small farmers’ interests and biosafety concerns

Debabrata Mohanty 
Tags : Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, Bt Brinjal 
Posted: Friday , Oct 23, 2009 at 0150 hrs 

Despite the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee giving its nod to the commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal last week, Orissa government has made it clear that commercial farming of any genetically modified crop, including brinjal, would not be allowed in the state. “It (Bt Brinjal) is detrimental to the interest of the farmers. The Orissa government is strategic in its stand against GM crops — either Bt Cotton or Bt Brinjal. The state has over 100 varieties of locally- produced brinjal and those may be affected by Bt Brinjal production,” Orissa Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout said. He added that Bt Brinjal would adversely affect large number of poor and small farmers in the state in the long run. “The modified crops may help big farmers, but it would certainly not help the poor villagers who grow brinjal in their kitchen gardens,” Rout said. State Agriculture Secretary U P Singh said Orissa has taken a policy decision not to allow Bt Brinjal production. Singh claimed to have no information of GEAC approving the commercial production. “But that does not make any difference. It has all along been our stand that we would not allow Bt Brinjal or for that matter any GM crop in Orissa.” Singh underlined that nobody can force Orissa to go for commercial production of Bt Brinjal as agriculture is a state subject. Orissa government’s stance has been widely hailed by the anti-GM activists. “The people of Orissa will bless you for this momentous task to protect our favourite food and delicacy. Brinjal is a native crop of Orissa,” said Jagannath Chatterjee of Living Farms, a Bhubaneswar-based anti-GM initiative. Kerala-based activist Sridhar Radhakrishnan said he was happy that Orissa is the second state after Kerala to oppose GM crop. But activists sounded words of caution saying loopholes in regulation and lax government supervision did not offer much hope. “The state government may not allow Bt Brinjal cultivation, but how would it stop Bt Brinjal seeds coming in through the neighbouring states. This has happened with Bt Cotton which is being grown in over 10,000 acres of area in Kalahandi, Raygada and Bolangir districts. The cotton farmers there are at great risk as their indebtedness are only increasing by the day,” said Debjeet Sarangi, an anti-GM activist of Bhubaneswar. Agriculture secretary U P Singh agreed that it was difficult to differentiate Bt Cotton seeds from non-Bt Cotton seeds. “Some years ago we had seized Bt Cotton seeds from Bargarh district. But that is not possible always,”he said. Incidentally, tests of Bt Brinjal are underway in the horticultural research station of Khandagiri in Bhubaneswar, under isolated conditions since winter 2008. Vice-chancellor of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, D P Ray told The Indian Express that the tests are being done over a 2,000 sq metre plot as part of the All India Vegetable Improvement Project of Varanasi-based Indian Institute of Vegetable Research. “The tests would continue for another two years and then the results would be sent to IIVR for analysis,” he said. Ray, who is a member of the state’s Committee on Biosafety, added that it would be harmful to allow commercial production of Bt Brinjal as there are more than 100 germplasms of the crop. “We have good biodiversity and those may be affected by Bt Brinjal,” he said. 

‘There is scientific evidence to prove that GM crops have harmful effects’


Renitha RaveendranTags : interview, IndiaPosted: Friday , Oct 23, 2009 at 0146 hrsPune:
Amid arguments for and against introducing genetically modified (GM) crops in India, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the apex regulatory committee for transgenic crops under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, on October 14 granted in-principle approval to Bt Brinjal, the country’s first edible GM item to be cleared for cultivation. Dr Pushpa M Bhargava, the Supreme Court-appointed special invitee to the 30-member GEAC, has on various platforms objected to introducing GM products in the country, citing health and bio-security issues.
Dr Bhargava is a well-known scientist and the founder of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad. Excerpts of an interview with Dr Bhargava: GEAC has described the Bt Brinjal developed by Mahyco, partnered with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, University of Agricultural Sciences and the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, as bio-safe material. It claims that before the approval, it was put through large-scale field trials at various locations across the country. Then what is your objection?
Biosafety cannot be guaranteed in a short span of time. It’s a long process. There are a whole lot of protocols to be carried out, which were not done in the case of Bt Brinjal. As far as a GM crop is concerned, there are nearly 30 tests to be done before giving it clearance. But only six-seven tests were done for Bt Brinjal so far, which is unacceptable. Brinjal is not our staple food. An increase in production will bring down the price, adding to farmers’ woes. No socio-economic studies have been done in this regard. No proper toxicity and allergenic tests have been done.
Those who argue for the introduction of it say that GM variety improves the pest resistance of crops leading to a 50 per cent reduction in yield losses.
Some time back, The Indian Council of Agricultural Research had developed a bio-pesticide technology which had proved to be equally effective and prevented yield losses. There are scores of other eco-friendly and safe practices that are possible for sustainable pest management in crops like brinjal. My problem is when you have options why go for something that has been rejected by many countries.
It is learnt that only very few in the 30-member GEAC are opposing the introduction of GM crops. If it is really a serious threat, why is the majority for it? It has been reported that one of the dissenters in the panel opined the vector used in making Bt Brinjal was wrong and this alone disqualified the crop. There are three people who are openly opposing the move on different grounds. All the others have vested interests. Some may have links with bio-tech companies or have affiliations to bodies that support the move. It’s absolutely true that the vector used was wrong. The sample for testing has been provided by the seed company itself. How do we know the sample is of normal brinjal or Bt Brinjal? I had sent a proposal to GEAC on the need to set up a centre to conduct such studies.
You had said GEAC did not give enough time to study the report before going public about the in-principle approval to Bt Brinjal. You had alleged in the past that GEAC wasn’t transparent.
The report was sent to us on the afternoon of October 9, which was a Friday. As my office is closed on Saturday and Sunday, I got the report in hand on Monday, October 12, and the very next day we had meeting in Delhi. Hurriedly after that they went public before we could properly go through it and raise any objection. I stand by my statement that GEAC wasn’t transparent, which is evident from the heedless haste with which it carried out the entire procedure in favour of the multi-national companies involved.
Some states like Orissa and Kerala have said no to GM crops. There are others who support it. But majority do not know what a GM crop is. Isn’t in a mess now?
The major issue is that the prime stakeholders — farmers — have not been taken into confidence. There have been no discussions held with them. In Kerala, where people are well-informed, there wouldn’t be much problem and that’s why they oppose it. But what about other states where majority of the farmers are illiterates? One can’t differentiate between a normal brinjal and a Bt Brinjal. So if you don’t want to go for GM food still you have no option as there is no labeling law in the country now. The major contention of those who oppose GM food is about the health hazards. But countries like the US and Canada have been consuming GM food for years now.
There is scientific evidence to prove that GM crops have harmful effects. The increasing number of GM food and increasing health problems in the US should be seen as a serious issue. In India, after the introduction of Bt Cotton, cases of allergy were reported. In Warangal, several cows had died after eating Bt Cotton plants. After scientists found it causes health hazards, many countries said no to GM crops.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

बीo टीo बैंगन की भारत की प्रथम जीo एम् फसल के रूप में जेनेटिक इंजीनियरिंग अप्प्रोवल कमिटी द्वारा मंजूरी दिए जाने का विरोध

दिनांक १६.१०.२००९ को पटना स्थित आर ब्लाक चौराहे पर तारा फाउंडेशन एवेम हमारा बीज बिहार नेटवर्क के सदस्यों तथा कार्यकर्ताओं ने विश्व खाद्य दिवस के अवसर पर उपवास का आयोजन किया. विदित हो की बीo टीo बैंगन को भारत की प्रथम जीo एम् फसल के रूप में जेनेटिक इंजीनियरिंग अप्प्रोवल कमिटी द्वारा दिनांक १४.१०.२००९ को मंजूरी दे दी गई. जिसका पुरजोड़ विरोध भारत वर्ष में किया जा रहा है. इसी क्रम में उपवास कार्यक्रम के साथ साथ माननीय मुख्यमंत्री बिहार को एक ज्ञापन सौंपा गया.
साथ हीं नेटवर्क के सदस्यों ने संकल्प लिए की "हम भूखे मर जायेंगे लेकिन जहर नहीं खायेंगे".
कर्यक्रम में पंकज भूषण, बबलू कुमार, अलोक कुमार, अजित कुमार, ब्रज मोहन सिंह, सिंकू कुमार, बहादुर वर्मा, कुमारी मीनू, विनोद कुमार के साथ साथ सैकडो कार्यकर्ताओं ने भाग लिया.

PMK fires salvo against Bt Brinjal

October 18th, 2009 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -

Chennai, Oct 18 (IANS) Founder of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) S. Ramadoss has fired the first salvo against farming Bt Brinjal, for which the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) gave its nod for commercial cultivation last week.
“Only three months ago, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had said that there is no need for GM vegetables. But now an organisation under his ministry has accorded sanction for commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in a hurry,” Ramadoss said here in a statement.
Citing the controversies arising out of the GEAC’s sanction and the procedure adopted by it, Ramadoss said the dissenting views of some members of the GEAC have not been taken into account.
He demanded the release of the permission for a public discussion.
Questioning the need for GM vegetables when the European Union has banned these, he alleged that such vegetables are being thrust upon the country under the US aid. This in the long run would make Indian farming a monopoly market for private seed companies, he added.
Ramesh said Thursday that a series of consultations would be made before taking any decision on the release of Bt Brinjal in India.
The minister’s statement came a day after the government’s biotech regulator approved the commercialisation of the genetically modified crop, leading to protests by environmental and farmers’ groups.
Bt Brinjal is a transgenic brinjal created out of inserting a gene (Cry 1Ac) from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into brinjal. This is said to give the brinjal plant resistance against insects like the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (Leucinodes orbonalis) and Fruit Borer (Helicoverpa armigera).

Read more: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/business/pmk-fires-salvo-against-bt-brinjal_100262325.html#ixzz0UJEuxy0c

Genetically-contaminated food gets the green signal. Join us in building a roadblock!

First the bad news. Despite your best efforts, the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) has lived up to its name and approved India's first genetically-adulterated food crop. The good news is that the final decision to allow Bt Brinjal into the market is yet to be made. So there's still some time – and one last chance – for us to stop the contamination of our nation's fragile food supply. Now, here's the really freaky part. Not everyone on the GEAC agreed with the decision to approve Bt Brinjal. One of them has said "It's a disaster. It's unethical. No time was given to us as members to review the findings. Why was it rushed? …Commercialization must be stopped." But it gets worse. At least three of the GEAC “experts” that approved Bt Brinjal were involved in developing and testing of Bt Brinjal. And just who owns Bt Brinjal? Monsanto-Mahyco. So there you have it. You build a genetic Weapon of Mass Destruction. Then put your own people on the WMD investigation team, who then tell the world the WMD aren't actually WMDs. There's a term for this. It's called "Conflict Of Interest.”  If you think there's something wrong with all of this, you're dead right. But if you think nothing can be done about any of this, you're wrong.

In the past few weeks, we've proven that huge amounts of public pressure – whether against rogue corporations or shady government departments – does have an effect. We might not always get what we want in the end, but we get closer to it every time more people join us in the fight.
This is the time to increase our numbers, and our strength. I've already said there's still a chance to stop the final decision on Bt Brinjal. If we are to achieve that, we have to grow into a force no-one can ignore.
Click here to know how we can get there together, and what else you can do to win this long and hard battle.
And thanks again for your invaluable support!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stop GM corn trials at PAU, says mission

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 7
The Kheti Virasat Mission, an NGO engaged in environment protection, has urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to order the immediate termination of genetically modified (GM) corn trials at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.
In an open letter to the Chief Minister, the organisation has raised serious concern over allowing the seed giant, Monsanto, to use PAU facilities for the trials. Incidentally, the letter is signed by 10 eminent persons, including Dr L.S. Chawla, former Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid Medical University, Dr Daljeet Singh, eye surgeon, and Dr Sucha Singh, economist.
Based on a permission letter issued by the Department of Biotechnology for an open-air trial of Monsanto’s transgenic corn hybrid (HiShell and 900M Gold containing MON 89034 event and NK603 event), PAU has gone ahead with the GM corn trials.
The open letter says that genetic engineering or genetic modification is a technology that involves the insertion of foreign genes, most often, into agricultural crops so that new traits that do not exist in the crop before can be obtained. However, given that many changes are brought about at the molecular level due to such forcible insertion of genetic material from elsewhere, the results are unpredictable and hazardous.
Several independent researches the world over indicate that herbicide-resistant crops will intensify and increase dependence on herbicide use in agriculture rather than lead to any significant reductions. A variety of herbicides will have to be reintroduced to control glyphosate-resistant volunteers, feral populations of crops and resistant weeds.
Further, an increase in the use of chemicals in farming is not desirable from a health and environment perspective.
It is not clear whether the state administration is aware of the trials, as laid down by the Environment Protection Act’s 1989 Rules. The state Biotechnology Coordination Committee is apparently not functional, says the letter.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

हमारा बीज बिहार नेटवर्क

दिनांक ५ एवं ६ अक्टूबर २००९ को स्थानीय ए एन सिन्हा इंस्टिट्यूट  में हमारा बीज पर दो दिवसीय कार्यशाला का आयोजन तारा फाउंडेशन के तत्वाधान में स्विश एड इंडिया के सहयोग से आयोजित हुआ. कार्यशाला की मुख्य वक्ता कविता कुरुगंती (कृषि विरासत मिशन पंजाब) ने कार्यशाला का उद्घाटन करते हुए कहा की अनुवांशिक रूप से संशोधित खाद्य पदार्थों से भारत को मुक्त करने का यह एक अभियान है. अनुवांशिक रूप से संशोधित खाद्य पदार्थ बनाने के लिए असंबंधित जीव जैसे जीवाणु, विषाणु तथा अन्य जानवरों के जींस यानि अनुवांशिक गुणों को हमारे खाद्य पौधों जैसे बैंगन, चावल, टमाटर, भिन्डी, गोभी, आलू आदि की कोशिका में कृत्रिम रूप से प्रत्यारोपित  कर दिया जाता है. अनुवांशिक अभियांत्रिकी का विज्ञान एवं प्रौद्योगिकी अधूरी व अपरिवर्तनीय है और यह प्रमाणित है की ये हमारे महत्वपूर्ण अंगों जैसे गुर्दे, लीवर  और दिमाग, जीवन की रोग प्रतिरोधक क्षमता और प्रजनन क्षमता  पर हीं नहीं बल्कि पर्यावरण पर भी बुरा असर डालते हैं. शोध बतातें हैं की ये खाद्य पदार्थ आने वाली पीढी पर भी बुरा असर डाळ  सकते हैं.
कार्यशाला को संबोधित करते हुए तारा फाउंडेशन के सचिव पंकज भूषण ने कहा की यह प्रक्रिया भारत की धरती पर अब अनजान नहीं रही क्योंकि यह हमारे देश में जड़ जमा चुकी है. अब तक बी टी कपास को उगाने  व प्रचारित करने की खबर इतनी फ़ैल चुकी है की किसान इस नई फसल को अपनाने के लिए मजबूर हो गए हैं. भारत में पहली जैव संशोधित फसल मुनाफाखोर संस्थाओं द्वारा बी टी बैंगन के रूप में प्रचारित की गई है. बी टी बैंगन बनाने के लिए बैंगन के जीनोम में बैक्टेरिया के जीन प्रत्यारोपित कर पौधे के अन्दर हीं ऐसा ज़हर पैदा किया जाता है जो फसल नष्ट  करने वाले कीडो को मार देता है. ऐसे विषैले बीजों के निर्माता ये दावा करते हैं की किसान इन बीजों के उपयोग से रासायनिक कीटनाशक का इस्तेमाल कम कर सकेंगे. ध्यान दीजिये बी टी बैंगन हीं  अकेला संशोधित फसल नहीं है. भारत में चावल, आलू, टमाटर, पत्तागोभी, गोभी, भिन्डी आदि को मिला कर कुल ५६ प्रकार के पौधों को अनुवांशिक रूप से संशोधित किया जा रहा है.
कार्यशाला में हम लोग ट्रस्ट, महिला विकास सेवा संस्थान नालंदा, निखिल रुरल देवेलोप्मेंट सोसाइटी पटना, हनुमान प्रसाद ग्रामीण विकास सेवा संस्थान, सर्व सहयोग संघ बरबीघा, दिशा विकास केंद्र, अभिनन्दन, ऐड इंडिया बिहार, चाइल्ड केयर पटना, आकांक्षा   सेवा सदन, ग्लोबल देवेलोप्मेंट आरगेनाइजेशन के गणमान्य पदाधिकारी  शामिल हुए.
कविता जी ने उपस्थित व्यक्तियों को जी एम् के दुष्प्रभाव से अवगत कराया एवं इस से सम्बंधित कई फिल्मो को  दिखाया.         
यदि जैव संशोधित फसल को इस देश में अनुमति मिल गई तो ये आपके और मेरे - हमारे लिए विकल्पों का अंत होगा.
अगर आप इस पर भरोसा करते हैं तो हमारा साथ दीजिये;
* दावा कीजिये की भर्त्ये किसी प्रयोशाला के चूहें नहीं हैं; खाद्य पदार्थों के चुनाव व सुरक्चित भोजन के अधिकार को हासिल कीजिये.
* गर्व से कहिए- मैं किसी प्रयोगशाला का चूहा नहीं हूँ.
* भारत के प्रधानमंत्री को एक ऑनलाइन पेटिशन इस पर भेजें: www iamnolabrat .com

Friday, October 2, 2009

दिलों को जोड़ने निकला कृषि जागरूकता रथ

पटना (हि० ब्यूरो०)   अधिकारियों और किसानो के दिल को जोड़ने सभी जिलों के लिए रवाना हुए किसान जागरूकता रथ. सरकार और किसानों के बीच की दूरी को कम करने निकले इन ३८ रथों को गुरुवार को मुख्यमंत्री नीतिश कुमार ने हरी झंडी दिखा कर विदा किया. २ से ३१ अक्टूबर  तक राज्य की २६७० पंचायतो में शिविर का आयोजन होगा. हर प्रखंड में कम से कम एक हजार किसानों को इसके माध्यम से कृषि एवं संबध विषयों की जानकारी दी जायेगी. मौके पर अनुदान के लिए आवेदन लिए जायेंगे तथा लंबित मामलों का निबटारा होगा.

Madhya Pradesh farmers rally to demand ban on GM crop trials.

Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh): Thousands of farmers from 20 districts of Madhya Pradesh held a peaceful demonstration here on Oct 1 to protest against the GM Corn field trial and demanded that the state government declare the state as a GM-free state. "Companies like Monsanto are notorious for their anti-farmer activities and if GM seeds like Monsanto's GM Corn are allowed, farmers' rights over their seeds and their agriculture would be seriously jeopardized," said Jayant Verma of Hamara Beej Abhiyan - an NGO working for the welfare of farmers in the state.
"The state government should, as a real solution to the current agrarian distress in the state, shift farmers towards low-cost, toxic-free ecological farming practices," he said.
The GM Corn trial underway in Jabalpur consists of Monsanto's proprietary technologies centred around herbicide tolerance and insect-resistance and has been sown with the permission of the central government.
The protesters burnt the effigy of Monsanto and presented a memorandum in the name of the chief minister to the district authorities.
A traditional tribal ritual for banishing evil forces, in this case symbolising Monsanto and GM Corn, was also enacted by the activists.
A funeral procession of GM Corn was taken in a rally through the city.
"Since both agriculture and health are state subjects as per the Indian constitution, the state government should therefore immediately intervene and exercise its policy of making Madhya Pradesh into an organic state," demanded Nilesh Desai of Beej Swaraj Abhiyan. "It is apparent that the state level apparatus laid down under the Environment Protection Act's 1989 rules is missing in Madhya Pradesh," he alleged.
Brij Kishore Chaurasia of Adivasi Sushasan Sangh, another NGO, said, "It is ridiculous to pump in crores of rupees for supporting rural employment in the form of NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and then take away existing employment potential in agriculture, especially for women and poor agricultural workers, by bringing in technologies like herbicide tolerance."
Ishwar Tripathi of Bharatiya Kisan Union opined that GM crops do not increase yields as claimed by the industry and pro-GM scientists and it is apparent in the case of Bt Cotton in Madhya Pradesh.
This technology, which is irreversible and uncontrollable, will be a bigger trap for farmers than the earlier corporate-driven agricultural technologies. The state government, for the sake of farmers and agricultural workers, should immediately destroy this trial plot and not allow any more trials in the state like Kerala, Tripathi demanded.
"In this kind of neo-colonialism, agriculture and seeds have become the medium to enslave Indian farmers and we should resist this at all costs," he lamented.
Sachin Jain from the Right To Food Campaign explained that GM foods are known to cause many adverse health effects and with such unsafe foods, a precautionary approach is the only way forward. He demanded that GM foods should be prohibited through the proposed Right to Food/National Food Security Act.
More than 40 networks, groups and organisations that joined this huge protest included: Coalition for a GM-Free MP, Beej Swaraj Abhiyan, Hamara Beej Abhiyan, Lok Jagriti Manch, Bhartiya Kissan Union, Dalit evam Adivasi Mahapanchayat and Right to Food Campaign. (IANS)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meeting India's tree planting guru

By Amarnath Tewary

BBC News, Bihar

        Mr Raju is single-handedly organising the re-forestation of his state (All pics: Prashant Ravi)
An Indian civil servant, SM Raju, has come up with a novel way of providing employment to millions of poor in the eastern state of Bihar.
His campaign to encourage people to plant trees effectively addresses two burning issues of the world: global warming and shrinking job opportunities.
Evidence of Mr Raju's success could clearly be seen on 30 August, when he organised 300,000 villagers from over 7,500 villages in northern Bihar to engage in a mass tree planting ceremony.
In doing so the agriculture graduate from Bangalore has provided "sustainable employment" to people living below the poverty line in Bihar.
'Lack of awareness'
Mr Raju has linked his "social forestry" programme to the central government's National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) which is also designed to provide employment to poor people.

Under NREGA - initiated in February 2006 as the government's most ambitious employment generation scheme for poor people - the authorities are bound by law to provide a minimum of 100 days of employment a year to members of families living below the poverty line.
About 44% of Bihar's population fall into this category.
"The scheme has brought benefits to thousands of families since its implementation," said a recent International Labour Organisation report.
But Mr Raju says that Bihar - being the poorest and most lawless state of India - has not been able to spend the allocated NREGA funds.
"This is because of a lack of awareness among officials about the scheme," he said.
The poor monsoon this year has led to lower agricultural outputs, while flash floods in some northern districts has made the situation even worse, he said.
"So the idea struck to my mind, why not involve families below the poverty line in social forestry and give them employment under this scheme for 100 days?
"Under the scheme, each family can earn a minimum of 10,200 rupees ($210)."
The civil servant immediately made a blueprint of his idea and got the support of senior state officials.

In June Mr Raju released a comprehensive booklet of "dos and don'ts" and distributed it to village heads and district officials.
His initiative meant that NREGA funds were fully utilised - in the past this has not always been the case.
"I told the villagers that they would get 100 days employment in a year simply by planting trees and protecting them. The old, handicapped and widows would be given preference," he explained.
Every village council has now been given a target of planting 50,000 saplings - a group of four families has to plant 200 seedlings and they must protect them for three years till the plants grow more sturdy.
"They would get the full payment if they can ensure the survival of 90% of the plants under their care. For a 75-80% survival rate, they will be paid only half the wage. If the survival rate is less than 75%, the families in the group will be replaced," the guidelines say.
Under NREGA rules, each worker has to be paid 100 rupees ($2) per day for 100 days in a year.
Increase in funds
Mr Raju even came close to planting one billion saplings on a single day.

"I started preparing for this and motivating villagers by announcing the date as 30 August," he said.
"The target for every village panchayat (council) was to plant 6,000 saplings from 6am to 6pm to achieve the target of one billion. At the end of the day, we found out that we were just just short of the target, but it was still a world record," the beaming civil servant said.
Significantly, his scheme has even stopped the migration of poor labourers from the area in search of employment elsewhere during monsoon time.
"We never thought we would get employment for planting trees and protecting them," said Paigambarpur village head Indra Bhusan, whose community - like many others - planted over 30,000 saplings mostly on both flanks of the 14km embankment which criss-crosses their village.
The saplings planted are both fruit and non-fruit trees. The non-fruit seedlings have been planted on the banks of the embankment and on state and national highways - while fruit bearing trees are planted inside the villages.
This year the central government has given more money to the scheme.
Meanwhile, the Bihar civil servant is busy collecting the facts and figures to get his feat listed by Guinness World Records.
"Bihar has edged out Pakistan from the record book," he said flashing a confident smile.
"Its all become possible due to villagers. I owe them a lot."

Govt reach out to farmers

News Desk - September 30, 2009

PATNA — The Bihar government has decided to send 38 ‘raths’ to help farmers tackle the situation in 26 drought-hit districts in the state, officials said here today.
The ‘Kisan Jagrukata Raths’ will tour the districts till October 31 to collect applications for grants, tractors, harvesters and power tillers from farmers, the officials said.
These ‘raths’ would also assess the requirements of the farmers in the districts for early sowing of rabi crops, as part of a comprehensive strategy drawn by the State Agriculture Department with thrust on rabi yield.

- AGENCIES (jaibihar.com)

Minister Advocates Organic Farming

Patna: September 24, 2009

State Agriculture Minister Renu Kushwaha, at an awareness program organized by the Insecticides (India) Ltd. at Hotel Maurya in Patna on Thursday said that Bihar could not expect to develop by ignoring the farming sector of the state and overlooking the interests of the farmers.
Kushwaha said that the state government was preparing an agricultural road map that would offer ways and means to increase productivity from the early stage of sowing seeds to the distribution of farm produce using state of the art warehousing and transportation facilities.
The minister thanked Insecticides Ltd and other private companies for offering products like insecticides, and irrigation and farming tools, that, she said, helped farmers raise their agricultural productivity at the fraction of a cost while giving them a chance to maximize their profits.
The Agriculture minister also stressed the need for expansion in organic farming saying over use of chemical and fertilizers eventually kill the fertility of the land, as is the case in Punjab and Haryana.