Monday, November 8, 2010
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
636, Ideal Homes Township,
Raja Rajeswari Nagar, Bangalore -5600098. Karnataka.
Telephone +91 94444089543
October 29, 2010
The Vice Chancellor,
Tamil Nadu Agriculture University,
Sub: Cancelling all collaborative research projects with corporations like Mahyco, Monsanto & others – stopping appropriation of farmers’ resources
This is with regard to the various collaborative research projects that your University has with corporations like Mahyco, Monsanto and others, especially with regard to transgenic seed development (Bt Brinjal, for instance) and testing (Monsanto’s GM Maize, for instance).
We, farmers and consumers representing more than 15 states of the country, have come into your University as part of Kisan Swaraj Yatra today, to highlight the agrarian distress that Indian farmers are steeped in and the lack of accountability displayed by agricultural universities/NARS to stem the distress by way of promoting sustainable technologies and stopping toxic, ‘treadmill’ technologies that are making farming unviable, eroding natural resources and providing toxic food to consumers.
The Kisan Swaraj Yatra is a nation-wide mobilization drawing fresh attention to the continuing agricultural crisis in India, and calling for a comprehensive new path for Indian agriculture – that will provide livelihood and food security for small farmers, keep our soils alive, and our food and water poison-free. It set off on Gandhi Jayanti at Sabarmati Ashram and will end on December 11th 2010 at Rajghat, Delhi, after covering 20 states in all. Thousands of farmers and consumers are joining this Yatra around the country to highlight the role of anti-farmer policies adopted by the government in deepening the distress and in particular, to highlight the contribution of faulty agricultural technologies promoted by the agri-research establishment.
We are concerned in particular about the role that TNAU has played in allowing corporations like Mahyco to appropriate farmers’ varieties in the guise of collaborative research. Your University, as a sub-licensee to Mahyco, provided the company with brinjal varieties that were essentially derived from farmers’ varieties and after backcrossing for the Bt gene, these varieties were returned as Bt Brinjal varieties to you. However, Mahyco has proprietary rights over the EE1 event and we would like to know from the University who the Bt Brinjal varieties now belong to – who owns them?
Further, we would like to find out from the University why Bt Brinjal is needed when ecological pest management options exist for controlling pests and diseases in crops like Brinjal. TNAU has itself evolved several such NPM (Non pesticidal management) options for brinjal pest management along with groups like NRI, UK, as we are aware. Why can’t the technology transfer gap be bridged for technologies like NPM rather than going in for hazardous, unproven-to-be-safe technologies?
We would like to know from the University whether there has been any analysis taken up by the University on the current agrarian crisis in the country and the role of agricultural technologies in increasing indebtedness, eroding/contaminating resources and making farming unviable.
We would also like to know what independent tests has the University taken up to assess the biosafety of Bt Brinjal apart from falling back on a corporation’s word for it, of which you are a sub-licensee? As a public sector body being run by taxpayers’ funds, why was not any independent study taken up by your University on conclusive evidence related to biosafety, including long term implications?
We are concerned about disproportionate investments going into transgenic research compared to sustainable, ecological options and would like to know from the University whether this has been assessed and analysed in the University and which technologies have been assessed to be more sustainable, for the benefit of farmers and consumers.
WE would like the University to assure the farmers of Tamil Nadu that it would stop facilitating appropriation of farmers’ varieties by corporations, that it would immediately stop all transgenic trials that it is taking up, that it would recast its agriculture research mandate to keep sustainability as a key parameter for all projects and that it would promote existing environment-friendly, affordable & safe technologies as the way forward for the extension system to pick up too. It is also important for the University to document and disseminate farmers’ practices that are sustainable, viable, safe and affordable.
We request you to address all these issues of concern and we hope to hear from you at the earliest on these issues.
Signed by farmers leaders and kisan Swaraj Yatra participants.
“FARMERS DONATE MONEY TO TAMIL NADU AGRI UNIVERSITY (TNAU) & URGE IT TO TAKE UP RESEARCH FOR THEM ON SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE”
Here is the press release of SICCFM which was shared to the media during a demonstration organised by South Indian Coordination Committee of farmers movements( SICCFM) during Kisan Swaraj Yatra's arrival in Coimbatore on 29th October, 2010 to oppose anti people land acquisition acts and TNAU's US Aid led research for TNCs . This press release was widely ignored by English media including The Hindu, the reason is known only to them.
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
Telephone +91 94444089543
Coimbatore, October 29, 2010: Accusing the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) of taking up research that benefits only agri-business corporations in various collaborative research projects and of facilitating appropriation of farmers’ varieties, hundreds of farmers raised money to donate the TNAU, urging it to take up research for them and not just for corporations. This was done as part of the Kisan Swaraj Yatra, which arrived in Coimbatore today, on its last day in Tamil Nadu. Farmers here also picked up the issue of land appropriation for more than 150 SEZs, road Neelambur bye pass road construction and airport expansion and demanded that the government of Tamil Nadu stop appropriating farmers’ resources. Various farmers associations affiliated to South Indian Coordinated Committee of Farmers Movements staged a Dharna in front of Red Cross society.
Speaking about large scale acquisition of land in the state, Dr M R Shivasamy, President, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam said, “The central Land Acquisition Act is a colonial Act even as the Tamil Nadu Land Acquisition Act is more draconian than the Central Act. The various departments of state and central governments are empowered to acquire farmers’ lands under these objectionable laws. The large scale farm lands acquisition underway in the state for SEZs and to formation of lands to road construction such as Neelambur Bye Pass road and airport expansion is uprooting farmers from their land and destroying their livelihoods. Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam demands an immediate repealing of these Acts and an immediate end to diversion of agricultural land to other purposes and forcible land acquisition” He has also said that all the bye pass road schemes in Coimbatore and Triupur districts to be canselled.
Chellamuthu, President , Uzhavar Uzhaipalar Katchi said, “The TNAU going ahead with Bt Brinjal development and other GM crop trials is objectionable given that the Chief minister of Tamil Nadu and the state government has already expressed its apprehensions to the Centre on this front. The University has to draw its mandate from what farmers need and want, and from the state government and not get into these partnerships with corporations like MNC since they are bringing in a little money into the University. Today, we have come to tell the University symbolically that the farmers would also pay it if that is the only way this public sector body will take up pro-farmer research agendas”.
Referring to the Tamil Nadu State Agricultural Council Act of 2009, L K Sadagopan of Uzhavar Periakkam demanded that the government should immediately drop the Act. “This is an anti-farmer piece of legislation. It completely de-recognises the knowledge of farmers and believes that agricultural knowledge and skills come only from universities. IN the garb of regulating agricultural practice in the state, it seeks to legitimize corporate control over farming here, it seeks to convert knowledge of agriculture into the exclusive domain of those holding a degree from the universities listed. This is completely unacceptable”, he said.
Kannaiyan, Convenor of South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements (SICCFM), objected to the University facilitating the appropriation of farmers’ varieties. “Farmers’ varieties, given in good trust to the University by farming communities, are being allowed by the University to be appropriated by corporations like Mahyco in the name of collaborative research projects. We will not allow the University, which has been set up in our name, to use taxpayers’ funds for acting as corporate agents. We demand that the University immediately scrap all agreements with Monsanto, Mahyco and such other corporations”, he said.
Subbu Ravikumar of Bhavani Riverwater and Groundwater Protection Committee brought up the issue of mindless industrialization around rivers like Bhavani and Noyyal which is polluting the river waters. “Discharging of effluents into these water bodies should be stopped immediately. The water is rendering much irrigated land useless”, he said.
Farmers from Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, as part of the Kisan Swaraj Yatra, extended their solidarity to the Tamil Nadu farmers who are taking up the cause of conserving and protecting farmers’ resources and rights.
The Kisan Swaraj Yatra is a nation-wide mobilization drawing fresh attention to the continuing agricultural crisis in India, and calling for a comprehensive new path for Indian agriculture – that will provide livelihood and food security for small farmers, keep our soils alive, and our food and water poison-free. It set off on Gandhi Jayanti at Sabarmati Ashram and will end on December 11th 2010 at Rajghat, Delhi, after covering 20 states in all. So far, the Yatra traversed through Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and will enter Kerala tomorrow.
For more information, visit www.kisanswaraj.in and contact:
S.Kannaiyan, South Indian Coordination committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM): 09444989543.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Date:25/10/2010 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2010/10/25/stories/2010102560250300.htm
Karnataka - Bangalore
There is no alternative to organic farming: farmer
PROGRESSIVE:Kodihalli Chandrashekar (left), president, KRRS, Kultar Singh, progressive farmer from Punjab, Kavitha Kuruganti, convener, Kisan Swaraj Yatra, in Bangalore on Sunday.
Addressing farmers and civil society members at the Institute of Agricultural Technologists here on Sunday, he said that Punjab was at a point of no return. “The country should learn from Punjab's mistake. Today, multi-national companies are funding research in agriculture universities. There is no option but to go organic and green,” he said.
Mr. Singh was here as part of the Kisan Swaraj Yatra, a pan-Indian bus tour by Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) for the cause of “Food, Farmers and Freedom”.
The yatra that began at Sabarmati Ashram on October 2 will reach Raj Ghat, New Delhi, on December 11.
Kavitha Kuruganti of Kheti Virasat Mission said that the yatra has received tremendous response from farmers across the State. “There was a near-unanimous understanding of the corporate stranglehold over farming which is making agriculture unviable and eroding our resources,” she said.
Later, she presented data compiled from official records of the past several years of Bt cotton cultivation in Karnataka. She pointed out that Bt cotton has not lived up to its claims or promises.
She said that organic farming was the only hope for the revival of agricultural sector in the country. “Organic farming can be self-reliant, environmentally-friendly and profitable. We have to bring back farmers to the sector. The people who should go out of the sector are Prime Minister and Union Agriculture Minister and multinational companies such as Monsanto,” she said.
Kodihalli Chandrashekar, president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, said that the State Government should step up its efforts in promoting ecological farming and set an example for other States to follow. There should be greater efforts to conserve seed diversity, to build capabilities of farmer-breeders and to promote agro-diversity.
He said that Bt cotton was not a success, as was being claimed. “No new cotton variety has been developed by our agriculture universities over the past decade. The farmers have no option but to cultivate Bt cotton. Our scientists should hang their heads in shame for not being able to develop a new variety,” he said.
He said that MNCs were only interested in profiteering at the expense of farmers. “Earlier, farmers would exchange seeds among themselves. Today, seed business is done at an international level. One kg of tomato seeds is priced at Rs. 1 lakh, while one kg of brinjal seeds is Rs. 40,000,” he said.
He said that punishment envisaged under the Seed Bill should be made stringent and urged the State Government to take a more pro-active role in Central legislation so that farmers' interests are protected. Farmers from Orissa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and other States interacted with farmers here. The yatra has covered Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa. It will enter Tamil Nadu on Monday. The aim of the 71-day tour is to create awareness about ill-effects of biotechnology and promote ecological farming.
© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu
Sunday, October 17, 2010
FREE OUR FOOD, NO “FREE” TRADE
16th October 2010
New Delhi, India
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) observes 16th October every year as World Food Day. As per the FAO itself, hunger remains higher than before the food crises, making it ever more difficult to achieve the hunger-reduction targets of the World Food Summit and Millennium Development Goal 1-- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The driving force behind this failure has been the corporatised agriculutre system where agribusiness has been striving to control the total extent of the food production chain – from technology, to trade, to retail distribution coupled with financial speculation. Alternative modes of agricultural production and distribution do exist and have shown the potential of food sufficiency and ecological harmony. Peoples' organisations all over the world have been struggling to promote these against a dysfunctional global agricultural system that cannot but lead to world food-less days. At a time when India is set to sign FTAs with a number of countries that are the domains of agribusiness we reiterate our call against the “free” global trading system and call attention to how it aggravates hunger and the food crisis.
“Free” trade is actually binding countries and impacting the freedoms ability of large numbers of small food growers to survive and provide much needed food. FAO’s projections for 2010 indicate that the number of undernourished people will decline in all developing regions, although with a different pace. The region with most undernourished people continues to be Asia and the Pacific. Ironically, it is also the region with the highest number of food producers. The State of Food Insecurity (SOFI) Report 2010 says that the majority of the world’s undernourished people live in developing countries. 77% of India's population survive on less than Rs. 20 a day and early this week India has got the distinction of being ranked at 67 out of 84 countries in a new Global Hunger Index 2010. The IFPRI’s Global Hunger index ranks India in the company of a block of 25 countries, including sub-Saharan Africa, where the hunger level is ‘alarming’. Two-thirds live in just seven countries (Bangladesh, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan) and over 40% live in China and India alone. And this is also precisely the area where free trade policies are being pushed even more to wrench the world out of the financial crises that the very same system created in the first place.
Bilateral investment treaties (BITS) and free trade agreements (FTAs) seriously impact the lives of farmers, and consumers of food. They are increasingly being used to further liberalise farming sectors, in the hope of gaining access to new markets for agricultural exports. FTAs are being used to try to force open markets for agricultural products which have been exempted in previous trade negotiations like the WTO, and to also target non-tariff barriers like product standards which relate to food. The rules they impose are designed for and by large and powerful companies’ economic interests, and not for the majority of the world's food producrs -- small farmers, indigenous people, farm workers, traditional farmers or fisher folk. The rules are simply about how to control markets while reducing the very basic foundations of life like seed and food into commodities. Financial speculators also make a killing betting on food prices leading to artificially inflated prices and artificially created famine like situations. India is quite gung-ho about BITs and FTAs and today over 25 such agreements are under negotiations by the Government of India, and 6 are under implementation.
The UN Special Rapporteur, Right to Food, has already pointed to the impact of commodity speculation on food price volatility which played a decisive role in the food crises of 2008 – leading to food riots all over the world. We need agreement that food is first and trade later.
“India is increasingly becoming a food importing country. India has started importing pulses, sugar and edible oil. Policy makers think that free trade is a solution to feed hungry people. But importing food from one continent to another is not a solution when farmers can grow food locally. SICCFM believes in food sovereignty. Food grains should be grown locally and distributed locally. Free trade in agriculture is a disaster for humanity.” said S Kannaiyan of South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements.
Small food producers have been feeding the world for centuries and various studies demonstrate that smaller farms produce far more per acre/hectare than larger ones. In the context of the climate change, small farm agriculture provides a way forward. The expansion of the industrial food system is the leading cause of climate change. Through its reliance on fossil fuels, massive exports, market concentration, erosion of soils and expansion of plantations, it generates 44-57% of the total global green house gas (GHG) emissions. This industrial food system is also completely incapable of assuring people's food and livelihood needs. Yet trade rules are only furthering the agro industrial model. This is coming at a huge cost to both our peoples and the planet.
On 16 October, the World Committee on food security, dubbed as the premier forum to discuss global hunger completed a 6-day long intergovernmental meeting along with civil society to discuss the global governance of World Food Security at FAO in Rome. Peoples' organisations have demanded “real solutions” for the worldwide permanent food crisis, as well as concrete measures to tackle the problems of speculation with food commodities and land-grabbing. They demand that small farmers voices must be heard and that processes pushed by the corporate drive for benefit should not be given legitimacy. Their demands must be heeded if we are really serious about combatting hunger worldwide.
Issued in solidarity with all those fighting against free trade agreements and for food sovereignty:
- Kerala Coconut Farmers Association
- Tamil Nadu State Farmers Association
- South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
- La Via Campesina South Asia
- Focus on the Global South
For more details please contact: <email@example.com>
Monday, September 20, 2010
Home News Opinion Sport Business Arts Life & Style S & T Education Health Classifieds Today's Paper Topics
Published: July 2, 2010 00:00 IST | Updated: July 2, 2010 04:25 IST BANGALORE, July 2, 2010
Farmers demand amendments to Seed BillStaff Reporter
The South Indian Coordination Committee on Farmers' Movements (SICCFM), comprising the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam (TVS) and Kerala Coconut Farmers' Association, has demanded amendments to the Seed Bill. The Bill will be discussed in the coming monsoon session of the Rajya Sabha.
Speaking to presspersons here on Thursday, KRRS president Kodihalli Chandashekahar said, “The State governments must have powers under the Act to regulate company seed prices, otherwise companies will raise prices, monopolise seeds market and exploit farmers. Because of this, the food security and sovereignty of the county will be under threat.” He said he would speak to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Thursday and urge him to write to the Union Government.
Mr. Chandrashekar said that SICCFM wants this Bill to have stronger infringement clauses such as compensation to farmers as well as fines that are proportionate to value and volume of company sales.
Mr. Nallagounder of TVS said, “According to the Bill, farmers have to revoke the Consumer Protection Act for compensation. This is hardly possible for a poor farmer with no legal knowledge or resources.” He said that local committees should be appointed by the State Government, so that farmers can approach them easily to receive quick and reasonable compensation within 60 days.
Imported seeds must be tested and produced on Indian soil. Imported seeds should prove their environmental and health safety according to Indian standards as well as match up to claims of performance made by companies, said SICCFM member Ashelsha Khadse.
Convener of SICCFM S. Kannaiyan said members would meet various political parties, Rajya Sabha members and governments of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala to make their demands before the monsoon session of the Parliament commences. He said the Seed Bill should be passed only if it protects farmers' interests.
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements [SICCFM]
Meeting on the Seed Bill, 30 June 2010
Meeting on the Seed Bill, 30 June 2010
The South Indian Farmers Coordinating Committee (SICCFM) comprising of Karnataka
Rajya Ryotha Sangha (KRRS), Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Thamizhaga Vivasayigal
Sangam (TVS) and Kerela Coconut Farmers Association held an urgent meeting on the
seed bill at the Indian Social Institute in Banglore on the 30th June 2010. The meeting was
attended by eminent farmer’s leaders like Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, Nallagounder of
Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Mr.Sadagopan - President of Uzhavar Periyakkam,
Kannaiyan, Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam( TVS) and eminent agriculture policy
analyst Dr. Ramanjaneyalu.
This crucial seed bill will be discussed during the upcoming monsoon session of the Rajya
Sabha and has the potential to change the face of Indian agriculture. This bill seeks to
regulate the quality of seeds sold commercially in India – i.e. sold under brand names for
profit. This bill was brought into being because of the changing face of the Indian seed
industry with many seed companies and technologies entering Indian agriculture like
GMOs and hybrids -already some crops like cotton, maize and sunflower are totally
controlled by very few companies. The bill aims among other things to ensure that Indian
farmers receive quality seeds from companies and commercial seed sellers.
On the face of things this bill might seem like it is really great for farmers as it seeks to
save them from spurious seeds, however in reality the SICCFM said that that bill lacks
teeth and is letting companies off the hook as there is no control on seed prices – which is
the major issue when it comes to company seeds. Also incase
company seeds fail to perform then the act asks farmers to approach Consumer courts –
this is a weak and unfeasible provision. There is no provision to control huge company
royalties – letting seed companies have one of the highest profit margins compared to any
other industry. State governments as well do not have powers to regulate these companies
in their states due to the current weakness of the laws. In AP for example, the state
government has been taken to court various times by seed companies on charges of
harassment when the state government tried to regulate exorbitant prices, royalties and
seed failures to protect their farmers.
The SICCFM made a few sharply focused amendment demands to this bill. They demand
firstly that this bill needs to regulate not only the prices of seeds but also the royalties
received by companies – currently 75% of some seed prices go as royalties to companies –
probably the highest royalties in any industry. Kodihalli Chandrashekhar of KRRS said
that, “State governments must have powers under the act to regulate company seed prices
otherwise companies will raise prices, monopolize seeds and exploit farmers and the food
security and sovereignty of the country will be under threat.” Secondly SICCFM
demanded that this bill needs much stronger infringement clauses - both compensation to
farmers as well as fines that are proportionate to value and volume of company sales.
SICCFMF commented that Rs 30,000 is hardly a fine for a large company and that the
state governments should have the power to impose fines. Nallagounder of TVS said that,
“According to the bill farmers have to approach the consumer protection act for
compensation – this is hardly possible for a poor farmer with no legal knowledge or
resources. Sharad Pawar has proposed an amendment to create a different compensation
committee for compensation purposes but we demand that localized committee should be
appointed by the state government in a manner which is easily approachable by the
farmer and so that he can receive quick and reasonable compensation within a time frame
of 60 days.” Lastly they demanded that all imported seeds must be tested and produced
on Indian soil. Imported seeds should prove their environmental and health safety
according to Indian standards as well as match up to claims of performance made by
Kannaiyan the convener of SICCFM said, “We will be meeting various political parties,
Rajya Sabha MPs and state governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and Kerela to
make our demands before the monsoon session of the parliament starts and unless the
farmers interests are not protected then this bill should not be passed in the parliament.”
For further details:
S.Kannaiyan - 09444989543.
Kodiahally Chandrasekar- 09844293908
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Date:04/06/2010 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2010/06/04/stories/2010060453060400.htm Back
Karnataka - Bangalore
Three farmers detained at GIM venue
Bangalore: Three farmers from Shimoga were detained after they allegedly tried to barge into the Global Investors Meet venue at Palace Grounds here on Thursday.
The police said that the farmers had planned to shout slogans against the GIM as well as the State Government for allegedly acquiring agricultural lands for development works, particularly for setting up industries.
The arrested have been identified as Mallikarjun, Nittur Raju and Narasimha Murthy. Mallikarjun is the Shimoga district president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) while others are members of KRRS.
The three young farmers, waving green shawls, entered the Palace Grounds gate on Thursday, when Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa was addressing the gathering, and shouted slogans against the State Government for allegedly acquiring fertile lands to give to the industrial sector.
The police stopped the protestors before they entered the grounds.
“The government has been acquiring agricultural lands across the State for the past two years. Already the farming community has lost thousands of hectares of land, especially in Bellary, Mysore, Shimoga, Mangalore, Udupi and other districts,” the protestors told presspersons.
Meanwhile, about 250 activists of various Kannada organisations and farmers group were taken into preventive custody by the Cubbon Park police for allegedly holding a demonstration against GIM in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue on Mahatma Gandhi Road here on Thursday.
The arrested persons, including the KRRS leader Kodihalli Chandrashekar, K.S. Puttannaiah, Rakshana Vedike (KRV) leader Narayana Gowda and others, were later released on certain conditions.
The protestors shouted slogans against the government and requested it not to “grab” lands from farmers.
Activists of KRRS, KRV, Karunada Sene, Samata Sainika Dal and Praja Vimochana Chaluvali participated in the demonstration.
‘Global Looters' Meet'
Activists from various non-governmental organisations, later in the evening, held a demonstration in front of Town Hall and shouted slogans against the State Government and described the GIM as “Global Looters' Meet”.
© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu
Friday, April 9, 2010
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
636, Ideal Homes Township,
Raja Rajeswari Nagar, Bangalore -5600098. Karnataka.
Telephone +91 80 286042250
Honourable Union Minister for Environment and Forest,
Government of India.
SICCFM -Memorandum on BT Brinjal .
South Indian coordination committee of Farmers’ Movements (SICCFM) is a coalition of Farmers movements in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu working for development of agriculture, food sovereignty and rural development.
Now that only a few days are left for you to make a decision on the first GM crop Bt Brinja’ls fate in this country, we want to convey to you that the farmers of South India strongly reject it! We stand besides our states who have already taken the progressive stand to reject it. We want to assure you that we do not come here because we are emotional and irrational. Rather we come here because we transcend the regular currents of good and bad and only support what we see as the truth. Bt Brinjal, an unjust technology that we farmers have not chosen, need or want, it has not proven to be safe and has been approved under corruption. Therefore we reject it, whether you approve it or not. Below are some points we would like to stress on:
- India is in the midst of agrarian crisis and hunger crisis – nearly 2 lakh farmers have ended their lives. It has also been unfortunately noted that a 3rd of the hungry in the world are the food producers themselves. We need to focus our agriculture on feeding people and providing our majority small farmers dignified livelihoods in the countryside. Therefore the day calls for strengthening the food producers of our nation by giving them control over their means of production including seeds and land and not making them dependent on companies or expensive credit for these. Government needs to ensure that farmers own, safe and affordable technologies are given to them, not untested corporate technologies. Furthermore, it is the right of farmers to produce food, for themselves and for society. We therefore demand food sovereignty and not dependence on Monsanto-Mahyco.
- Noted and respected scientist Mr. Pushpa Bhargava himself has noted that less than 12 of the required 30 tests were carried out before giving Bt Brinjal the clearance. Furthermore, he has also said that clearance was given on account of great pressure from Monsanto –Mahyco.
- We absolutely condemn corporations interfering in the matters of such great public importance and governments’ collusion with them as was demonstrated by GEAC.
- Members of SICCFM- had public debates with scientists of Tamil Nadu Agriculture University and Dharward Agriculture universities on BT Brinjal. These Universities have failed to convince the farmers on the GM crops particularly BT Brinjal. The former Vice chancellor of TNAU Mr.Ramasamy asked farmers that why don’t we accept BT technology from Monsanto, where as we have accepted Nokia and other MNCs. This is not a scientific argument appreciated by farmers and consumers.
- Unfortunately the public media has wrongfully labelled all anti Bt brinjal voices farmers as anti- technology. We beg to clear this false assumption. Technology like Bt that is harmful cannot be allowed just because it is ‘technology’. We farmers have our own technologies and science, and we want the government to promote these. We have been successfully adopting technologies developed by our Agriculture universities and research stations. We reject this BT technology as it denies our choice of choosing the crop as a farmers and choice of choosing non BT food. And also this will contaminate our bio diversity.
- Our sister and brother farmers in the Bt Cotton belt have already proven to us that Bt cotton has not been successful. It has caused great debts and hunger and worst of all – suicides.
- We SICCFM strongly feel that the problem of solving the food crisis cannot be solved by the Multinational corporations like Monsanto- Mahyco. It can’t be a technical solution, but a political solution by empowering small and marginal peasants of the country.
Lastly, once Monsanto-Mahyco contaminates our brinjal, how can we hold them liable? Who will pay us compensations? Who will ensure the food security of our future generations? There is no mechanism in place to hold them responsible. Already most noted scientists, international conventions –CBD, Cartagena protocol and also the IAASTD show that GMOs are undesirable- not only in centres of origin (as India is for Brinjal) but also for solving hunger or solving poverty.
We therefore appeal the government of India not to introduce BT Brinjal and other GM crops.
Kodiahally Chandra Sekher
Karnataka Rajya Ryotha Sanga (KRRS)
Kerala Coconut Farmers Association( KCFA)
Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi.
Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam.
Bhavani river water and ground water protection centre.
In India, it’s called Brinjal and thousands are taking to the streets to defend it. The Indian media has generally good coverage, here, here, and here. At issue is whether a genetically modified version ought to be allowed. Government scientists have declared it safe and productive, but many have their doubts, especially when 1500 native varieties are at risk from contamination. Unlike Europe, where consumers led the charge against GM crops, India’s farmers are out front and centre. A press release from one of the many Indian farmers’ movements below the fold.
By Raj patel in his blog : http://rajpatel.org
By Raj patel in his blog : http://rajpatel.org
SOUTH INDIAN COORDINATION COMMITTEE OF FARMERS’ MOVEMENTS (SICCFM)
636, Ideal Home Layout, Rajarajeswari Nagar,
“BT BRINJAL IS ONLY AN EXCUSE FOR TAKING OVER INDIAN AGRICULTURE – REJECT GM SEEDS”Coimbatore, January 19th 2010: Pointing out that multinational companies are using Indian agriculture universities as their acceptable front and that these institutions run by Indian taxpayers’ funds should reject all such attempts by MNCs, leaders of various farmers’ organizations of South India called for a complete rejection of Bt Brinjal and other GM seeds. They said that any seeds that enslave Indian farmers and poison our food and soils are not acceptable, whether they come from agriculture universities or from multinational corporations. Farmers’ leaders from various organizations were taking part in a Conference on Bt Brinjal and Seed Sovereignty organized by the South Indian Coordination Committee of Indian Farmers’ Movements. The Conference unanimously passed a resolution demanding that Tamil Nadu government also reject Bt Brinjal seeds just as the other three neighboring states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have done.
Mr K Sellamuthu, President of Uzhavar Uzhaipalar Katchi urged the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to take a stand against Bt Brinjal and such other seeds and expressed his hope that Chief Minister will continue to show long term vision in sustaining farmers’ livelihoods in the state. He also called upon the government to ignore the faulty advice of some scientists in the state.
“Recently, the Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister’s assurances to the Assembly on the issue of Bt Brinjal were incorrect and misleading. He had reportedly claimed that tests have been performed by the University on Bt Brinjal – this is not true since the University has been allowed to dispense away with even Large Scale Trials on the agronomic front. On the health and environmental safety front, scores of questions still remain on the studies done by and data produced by the crop developer, which is the Indian partner of Amercian company Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company. When other states are using their scientific capabilities to point this out to the Central government, why is Tamil Nadu government so complacent in resting its trust on the regulators who have been thoroughly discredited? If a Congress-led state like Andhra Pradesh can also take a stand against Bt Brinjal, why can’t Tamil Nadu take a stand in favour of people and not corporations?”, asked Dr Sivasamy, senior farmers’ leader.
Adding that Bt Brinjal’s assessment has not touched upon some fundamental questions to this day, Kodihalli Chandrasekhar of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) said, “While it is true that brinjal crop does take up higher number of pesticide sprays in certain plots of intensive cultivation, the pesticide consumption figures being projected to rationalize the introduction of Bt Brinjal are not scientific at all. In Karnataka, the horticulture department data shows that brinjal is ranked fourteenth amongst horticulture crops in terms of its pesticides consumption and is not the main guzzler of toxic chemicals in fact. Further, there are many practices which need to be taken to all brinjal farmers by the government which are eco-friendly, sustainable and affordable for successful pest management. There is no point in replacing one toxic, unsustainable technology with another, that too irreversible technology. That shows the lack of foresightedness of our rulers. I urge all farmers to understand the conspiracy of enslavement that is behind Bt Brinjal and reject these seeds. I urge them to demand from the government the promotion of sustainable solutions in farming”.
“It is a shame that the Indian regulators, rather than being proud of our invaluable diversity in this crop and rather than putting out recommendations to conserve such unique diversity are actually negating the fact that Brinjal originated in this country. Rewriting a scientific fact on its contamination possibilities or its origins or its ill effects on our health would not fool alert Indian farmers and consumers. The government should also realize this or face the wrath of awakened citizens if it does the mistake of approving Bt Brinjal in India”, warned Mr P Raveendranath, President of Kerala State Coconut Farmers’ Association and Fr George Pottakkal of INFAM.
Pointing out that farmers’ organizations have not asked for this and rejecting the need for this toxic product to be more or less directly consumed by all Indians, Mr N S Palanisamy, former legislator and President of Tamizhaga Vyavasayigal Sangam said, “No Bt Brinjal has ever been introduced anywhere in the world. In fact, American agencies invested their resources to develop Bt Brinjal in India as well as to re-write our regulatory guidelines. When a majority of the countries around the world are rejecting this technology at this point of time, it is unacceptable that the Indian government decided to go with America on this and is not acting in the best interests of farmers and consumers here”.
“We also demand that Mahyco and Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, along with the Tamil Nadu government immediately let the world know where their original seed material had come from, for creating the Bt Brinjal varieties. Where are the initial varieties from and where is the consent from the farming communities that evolved the original varieties used for the university varieties? Who now owns the Bt Brinjal varieties given that Mahyco has patented the genetic ‘event’ in Bt Brinjal? We will not allow this kind of appropriation of seed material that belongs of farmers and this blatant violation of our rights by MNCs, through agriculture universities. We had already seen that in the case of Bt Cotton, non-GM cotton seed has been wiped out of the market and not many cotton seeds exist in this country today that cannot be claimed as the proprietary material of Monsanto, given that their ‘events’ have been inserted into our lines and that most Indian companies are sub-licensed to this corporation. This kind of appropriation will not be tolerated by us”, said Mr Sadagopan, President of Uzhavar Periyakkam.
The farmers’ organizations put out a call to everyone interested in protecting India’s seed and food sovereignty to join the public consultation on January 25th in Bangalore and to communicate our message of rejection of GM seeds in India to the Minister for Environment & Forests.
The following farmers leader’s participated in the consultation.
For more information, contact:
1. S Kannaiyan of South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (0) 9444989543