Monday, December 31, 2012
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
636, Ideal Homes Township, Raja Rajeswari Nagar, Bangalore -5600098. Karnataka.
Telephone +91 94444089543 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 4, 2012
To Whom It May Concern:
Supreme Court of India
In the case of Aruna Rodrigues Vs. Union of India
(Writ Petition (Civil) No. 260 of 2005)
Sub: Requesting the Hon’ble Supreme Court to accept the court-appointed TEC’s
interim report recommendations and order for stopping of all field trials until
The South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements(SICCFM) is an alliance of various
farmers movements from the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The members are
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Tamila Vivasaigal Sangham, Adivai Gothra Mahasabha
Kerela, Kerela Coconut Farmers Association and many others representing thousands of
Two recent reports – one, of the Technical Expert Committee set up by this Hon’ble Court
with five experts from both the petitioners’ and respondents’ side unanimously signing off on
an interim report for the court, and another, of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Agriculture which had parliamentarians cutting across all parties unanimously putting out
their report - have reiterated some main points asking for need assessment and assessment
of alternatives before proceeding with open air trials as laid down also by the Task Force on
Agricultural Biotechnology headed by Dr M S Swaminathan in 2004.
The state of the regulatory regime – its design as well as its functioning – have come under
severe criticism again and again in various inquiries including the public debate around Bt
brinjal on which the Government of India announced a moratorium in February 2010. We
would like to point out that what these various reports and inquiries are pointing out is
nothing new, and improvements are also not being witnessed in the state of affairs.
The learned Bench looking into this matter might be aware that there have been several
instances when field trials took place in violation of the existing statutory Rules and of laid
down biosafety norms. The regulators have been approving open air trials without any
capabilities for monitoring. Lack of monitoring is apparent with Bt cotton after its release too.
It is apparent from various civil society investigations, from the very way in which Bt cotton
spread in India illegally and from contamination incidents elsewhere that field trials which are
deliberate releases of untested and new organisms, pose a grave threat. One such incident
came to light in a Monsanto GM maize trial plot in Karnataka and the regulators undertook
an investigation a full year later, showing the lack of acting even on complaints! Further,
there is no liability regime in place to take care of things when they go wrong during such
field trials. It is also well known, and being pointed out by many farmers’ rights advocates
that no contamination testing has ever taken place in our country after field trials. Going by
contamination incidents elsewhere, even small contamination incidents threaten trade
security for our farmers. There has been a recent EU alert on basmati rice consignments’
contamination, as the learned Bench would be aware.
The petitioners of this PIL were therefore absolutely correct in asking for a moratorium on all
open air releases of GMOs. We write to you to kindly acceptin toto the recommendations of
the Committee that this Hon’ble Court itself had set up and ensure that unneeded GM crops
like Bt crops are not allowed into the country including for field trials and that we do not
willfully jeopardize our valuable diversity in germplasm of several crops for which we are the
Center of Origin and/or Diversity by allowing transgenic versions of those crops. WE should
bear in mind that China had prudently not opted for GM soybean, given that soy diversity is
the wealth of that country.
During the Bt brinjal public debate in the country, it became apparent that our biosafety
assessment is faulty. When international scientists started analyzing the biosafety dossiers
presented to the regulators by the company involved, that too after this Hon’ble Court
ordered for such biosafety data be put out for public scientific scrutiny, it became apparent
that our testing regime is inadequate and lacks independent testing in addition to long term
testing. Further, safety interpretation was being wrongly made from data that was obviously
pointing to health and other problems. All of this was publicly acknowledged when the
moratorium was announced by the government. Nothing has changed subsequently in terms
of improvements being brought about. The TEC is absolutely correct in asking for a reexamination
of all biosafety data for approved as well as in-the-pipeline crops.
We believe that transgenics will affect our diversity and that this is an unneeded, hazardous
technology. We welcome the interim report of the TEC of the Supreme Court. We believe
that given that the Government of India also got to nominate its experts into the TEC, they
should abide by the TEC’s recommendations. We urge the Hon’ble Court to immediately
pass all appropriate orders based on the recommendations of the TEC.
Working President, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha(KRRS), KarnatakaConvener, South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM)636, Ideal Homes Township, Raja Rajeswari Nagar, Bangalore -5600098. Karnataka. Telephone +91 94444089543 Email: email@example.com
"GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND LEGISLATIONS GOING AGAINST FARMERS" ‘Land Acquisition Bill and FDI in Retail not acceptable’: South Indian Farmers’ Leaders New Delhi, October 5th 2012: South Indian farmer’s movements, under the banner of South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements (SICCFM) have come all the way to Delhi to criticize the anti-people approach of the LARR bill as well as the undemocratic approval of FDI in retail by the UPA. "The UPA government is proving itself to be a dangerous anti-people and corrupt government. After shocking the country with the largest corruption scams in India's history, they are trying to grab our farm land to give to corporations for private profit. Land is not a commodity, it is our identity and we need it for our livelihood and to feed the nation. We farmers have an inalienable right to land. The bill should be focused on people’s real development and not for profiteering by a few," said Chamarasa Patil, the president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS).
SICCFM is criticizing the LARR bill, now called ‘The Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition’ Bill 2012 because it has not addressed fundamental questions about lands' critical role in food security, rural regeneration and livelihood security of millions. Furthermore the government’s total disregard to the parliamentary standing committee recommendations is disgraceful. The standing committee had clearly reflected the major concerns of the people in its report. When the industry did not like it, the GOI went ahead and diluted the bill and handed it over to a group of ministers.
The fundamental principle of the bill is flawed. It is mainly focused on urbanization, industrialization and ‘infrastructure development’ rather than food and livelihood security of the masses. By using the language of fair compensation they are overshadowing the real purpose of the bill which is to divert people’s land to private industries. "The wording of the bill is such that "infrastructure development" in the name of "public purpose" can mean anything notified by the government. For example, it can include projects like golf courses, elite residential housing, expensive private hospitals. In which way are these going to help the poor who are giving up their most vital resource? This type of so called development is for elite consumerism and not for the masses of India. Our local gram panchayats should decide whether a project is for real public purpose or not" said Nandini Jairam, women’s leader of KRRS. SICCFM has been asking for a national debate on what constitutes ‘public purpose’ in the law. Any land acquisition by the state for any private entity, including under PPP projects is unacceptable and does not constitute public purpose. Already lakhs of hectares of farmland have been converted to non-agricultural uses, and this is a dangerous trend. We need to conserve farmland for future generations.
Furthermore, the government has already acquired thousands of hectares that are lying idle all over the country. "The government needs to first bring out a white paper to show what is the status of past land acquisitions and farm land conversion to industry before blindly making laws to hand over land to industry. We also need a full, real picture of compensation and R&R related to past land acquisitions. Lakhs of people have not still received compensation or R&R or promised jobs. Until all these issues are resolved, we demand that all land acquisition should be suspended immediately," said KS Puttanaiah of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS).
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM) 636, Ideal Homes Township, Raja Rajeswari Nagar, Bangalore -5600098. Karnataka. Telephone +91 94444089543 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Speaking on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail, Nagendra of KRRS said, "The Government has already not kept the promises it had made when 100% FDI in single brand retail was allowed. Then they had said that there will be 30% mandatory procurement from small/village/cottage industry. Now they are conveniently saying that procurement from village industry should be just ‘preferable’, ‘where feasible’. Similarly any protection mechanisms for farmers will become diluted in the case of FDI in multibrand retail also."
Analysis from elsewhere clearly shows that big retail chains like WalMart and Carrefour operate through market concentration and monopolies. In the US, small or medium farmers cannot sell their produce to a grocery store because the chain stores have central procurement only from farms of thousands of acres. Big retail chains also practice many unfair practices such as maintaining exclusive supply list of farmers or removing them from the list at their whim. Whereas the Indian retail business today has no such domination by powerful players.
Big retail will not create much employment either. Indian retail sector employs 40 million people and is estimated at 400$ billion while Wal-Mart, with a similar turnover of $420 billion, employs only 2.1 million people. It is the Indian retail sector which is a much bigger employer. Evidence shows that farmers’ incomes would suffer too. Out of the food dollar, farmers in the US now receive only 4% while in 1950 it was 70%. Also big retail does not buy, or pay over the counter at current prices. They buy the nation’s next harvest in futures market and fix farm prices. They also import cheap goods, pulling prices down and destroying local production like they have done in the US.
"The real aim of Wal-mart and other retail giants is to control most of the supply chain, so that it will wipe out whatever little power the farmers have now. This is what the MNCs and US want and this is what the Indian government is delivering. If the government is really serious about helping farmers, they need to strengthen farmers' bargaining capacity in the marketplace," said Chukki Nanjundaswamy of KRRS.
"In a nutshell, there is nothing of benefit to the majority of the farmers of this country and we demand that the government retract this notification immediately", said Kannaiyan Subramaniam, Coordinator of SICCFM.
SICCFM shared a detailed note on both FDI and LARR bill and called upon all Parliamentarians to engage with the issue in greater detail and uphold the interests of farming communities across the country. For more information, contact: Kannaiyan Subramaniam: 09444989543; Email: email@example.com