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Monday, November 8, 2010

Our memorandum to Tamil Nadu Agriculture University

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,

Dear Sir,

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.



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.
 - S.Kannaiyan

South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
Telephone +91 94444089543

Press Release

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 and contact:

S.Kannaiyan, South Indian Coordination committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM): 09444989543.