Friday, October 2, 2009
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)