Thursday March 2 2006
Meeting Bush? Farming off the menu, says NGO
DH News Service Hyderabad:
Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO promoting organic farming and revival of local food cultures, has appealed to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy not to discuss agricultural issues with American President George Bush during his six hour visit to Hyderabad on Friday as it would only push the state on to the path of destruction and despair.
“Except for its brute power, the US has nothing to offer to a civilised state like Andhra Pradesh, more so in the area of agriculture,” said DDS Director P V Satheesh in an open letter to Mr Reddy.
Pointing out the “duplicitous” role of the US in conservation-related conventions, Mr Satheesh said the US was pushing India to sign various international charters on biodiversity and climate change when Washington itself had not signed any of them. While the state was recommending pathbreaking methods in managing pests, the US had increased by 40 times, its pesticide use in the last 50 years. Besides, it exploits 85 per cent of all its freshwater resources in that country for agriculture.
The subsidising of big, export-oriented farmers in the US to the extent of $350,000 per year had indirectly resulted in the suicides of farmers in India, he said. Also, the US agriculture actually uses 10 fossil fuel calories for each calorie of food produced. “Can we emulate this model... (that would) turn farmlands in this state into a desert?” he asked.
The DDS model of women-centric agriculture
The global strategy of the US is to push genetic engineering (GE) of crops and their export which is the future of its economy. “With the death of its manufacturing sector, outsourcing of its IT industry and a huge scarcity in manpower to maintain its knowledge economy, the US is desperately dependent” on GE. That is why it’s using its might and clout, “arm-twisting and bullying” through the WTO to force governments in Europe, Africa and Asia into accepting GE crops or removing the ban on them. This is the reason why the US is making “aggressive incursions” into agricultural research and development.
“What the US wants to do is to completely subvert all non-GE research by luring, tempting and bribing major research institutions. If it fails, it will bully them to accept biotech as the sole area of research. That is the reason why Mr Chief Minister, Bush’s visit to the (Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University) sends shivers down several spines,” he said.
Giving an example of the bulldozing by American-controlled organisations like the World Bank and IMF, Mr Satheesh said Haiti was forced to liberalise its rice markets in the mid-1990s and cheap US imports flooded its market. Local production collapsed along with the livelihood of tens of thousands of rural people. The country, which was self-sufficient a decade ago, today spends half of its export earnings on importing US rice.
Urging the chief minister to show all hospitality to the guest by offering him all the delicacies of the state, Mr Satheesh pleaded that he should not discuss agriculture with him since it was the sure path to destruction and despair.
Read more from the DECCAN DEVELOPMENT SOCIETY