Wednesday April 11 2007
Plea for ban on GM crops
Farmers opting for Bt cotton in bad shape: DDS Director
Scroll down to read the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity's opening demands Sangareddy: The Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity has asked the Medak administration to ban genetically engineered crops in the district, particularly Bt cotton.
Addressing the press here on Tuesday, Convener of the Coalition and Director of Deccan Development Society, P.V.Sateesh, disclosed that the five years of study that the Coalition had done in Warangal district had showed that the farmers who opted for Bt cotton were in bad shape than those that had opted for regular cotton
He said that the studies by Abdul Khayyum, a retired joint director of agriculture, showed that the chilli crop sown after Bt cotton dried up due to an attack of root rot, which was very peculiar to this region. `GM opposition' month
A large number of women farmers of the Pastapur-based Deccan Development Society, which is a member of the Coalition, submitted a memorandum to the District Collector demanding restrictions on the International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (Icrisat) and other State level research institutions from working on genetically modified crops, steps to promote ecological farming, promotion of dryland agriculture and adding millets to the public distribution system.
Earlier, the farmers formed a human chain in front of Icrisat and demanded that the international research institution should immediately stop receiving research funding from firms that produce GM crops. P.V.Sateesh submitted a petition to the Deputy Director General of Icrisat.
On April 10, as a part of the International Month of Opposition to GM, about 300 women farmers led by the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity and the Deccan Development formed a human chain in front of the International Crop Research Institute [ICRISAT] in Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, India denouncing ICRISAT for its corporate backed pro GM research agenda. Their demands included:
1. Move away from GE and move back to basics. Work with farmers and start building on the foundations of their science once again.
2. Get out of the unholy alliance with the biotech industry which has very little to do with Life and everything to do with Death. Death of the environment, death of the poor and death of food sovereignty and dignity.
3. Stop renting out your facilities which was donated to you by the international community to the biotech industry. This is a total breach of trust.
4. Bring back biodiversity and NPM on to your agenda. We hope these terms, biodiversity and NPM ring a bell in you. Can you retrace this path from where you strayed away and redeem yourself as a public research institution?
5. Start repatriating the genetic wealth you have amassed from the farmers of Asia and Africa. Farmers have the right over it but are unable to access it from you whereas the biotech industry which is accessing it from you do it as biopirates
The farmers also marched on to the office of the head of Medak District and demanded
1. Ban genetic engineering from agriculture from the Medak District. All over the dryland belts of the Deccan genetic engineering as seen in the cultivation of Bt cotton, has proved a disaster for small and marginal farmers resulting in thousands of suicides. Besides it has also started toxifying our soils and killing the livestock.
2. Genetic engineering in agriculture is the surest way of depriving farmers their control over agriculture and handing it over to large agrochemical corporations.
3. As the custodian of the farming communities in Medak, where small and marginal farmers constitute nearly 70% of the population, it becomes your duty to do everything to save their life, honour and dignity. One of the ways of achieving this is to stop institutions such as ICRISAT and the state agricultural research institutions from engaging in genetic engineering.
4. Instead, promote ecological farming which is the surest answer to the horrifying water wars and the climate change that looms threateningly on our horizon.
5. Expand the state support to food farmers, particularly in the rainfed farming systems thereby reducing the stress on natural resources. This can be done by promoting dryland crops such as sorghum, millets and pulses which still form the finest mosaic of biodiversity on the farms of Medak District.
p v satheesh