Patna Aug. 25: GM Free Bihar Movement, spearheading a countrywide campaign against genetically modified food, today announced that it would launch a Kisan Swaraj Yatra on October 2.
The journey by bus, slated to take two months, would cover 19 states across the country. The bus would pass through Patna, Muzaffarpur, Rajendra Agriculture University, Samastipur, and Champaran on the Bihar leg of its tour between November 22 and 24.
GM Free Bihar Movement convener Pankaj Bhusan said: “Kisan Swaraj Yatra is an effort to reach out towards self-reliant, ecological farming and for securing the rights of farmers.”
Bhusan said that the yatra would also help in creating a platform for state governments which want to assert their constitutional authority over agriculture and health as state projects.
The president of an NGO, Lokyan, Vijay Pratap, said: “It is matter of shame that in a country where nearly 70 per cent of the population is still dependent on farming and food production, hundreds of farmers are being forced to commit suicide.”
Social activist Mihir Kumar, who also took part in the seminar, said BT brinjal, the first genetically modified food crop sought to be introduced in India, has been stopped by the central government.
BT brinjal was developed by Monsanto, a multinational company based in the US in partnership with India's Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company and was approved for commercialisation in 2009 but was withdrawn after a public outcry.
Kumar Shubhamoorty, a member of GM Free Bihar Movement, said: “The yatra requires active participation and support of the people.”
Suresh Gupta, a pioneer in organic farming, said: “Throughout the yatra, the campaign is based on the philosophy of Satyameva Jayate.”
Parveen Amanullah, a member of Hum Log Trust, said: “The yatra believes that genetically modified seeds are dangerous.”
He added: “It would have adverse effects on farmers, consumers and our environment. It needs to be resisted.”
The yatra is being organised by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture and would be led by the convener of the GM Free Movement, Pankaj Bhusan, and Kavitha Kuruganti from Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab.
The yatra would commence from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat and would end in Delhi on December 11.