On National Safe Food Day (Feb 9, 2013), Farmer Unions and Civil Society groups in Hyderabad declare that GM crops are not required for Food Security, and demand that the government should implement Parliamentary Standing Committee and Supreme Court Tech Committee recommendations
Several farmer union leaders and civil society groups came together at press meet on National Safe Food Day to speak out about GM crops, 3 years after they raised strong concerns about Bt Brinjal which led to the Centre declaring a moratorium on Feb 9th, 2010. This day is being observed as National Safe Food Day by groups across the country.
The following points were highlighted:
(1) We reject the claims of the Bio-tech industry lobby groups and their agents pretending to speak on behalf of farmers, that farmers are demanding GM crops. As farmer organizations representing millions of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, we declare that what farmers are demanding is strong regulation of seed companies including quality, price and royalties on seed, and farmers’ rights over seed (instead of intellectual property rights by companies).
(2) We reject the claim that GM crops are essential for food security and for increasing food production. As farmer organizations representing millions of farmers in A.P., we assert that what is required for food security is urgent measures to ensure remunerative prices, provide support systems for farmers, incentives for food crops rather than risky commercial crops, and preventing diversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. Instead of acting on these real demands of farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture is batting for the GM, seed and pesticide industries as indicated by the recent conference in Delhi.
(3) In the 3 years since the Bt Brinjal moratorium, various recommendations of the Minister of Environment and Forests, such as establishing independent testing laboratories, independent regulatory and monitoring body, incorporating long-term tests for bio-safety and health impacts of GM crops, etc. have not been implemented. Still, there is a clamour from the biotech companies and Ministry of Agriculture for releasing GM crops.
(4) The Parliamentary Standing Committee and Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee made detailed, well-studied recommendations on GM crops – including stopping certain field trials and permitting certain trials only after bio-safety has been established. These recommendations should be implemented immediately by Govt of India.
(5) The BRAI Bill which is designed to fast-track the approval of GM crops should be set aside, and a new National Bio-Safety Law should be adopted to regulate GM crops.
Several programs with farmers are being taken up to raise awareness about GM crops in the next one month in various districts.
Pasya Padma from A.P.Ryotu Sangham, Sai Reddy from Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Kiran Vissa from Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Dr.Ramanjaneyulu from Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, and Dr.Narasimha Reddy from Chetana Society participated. Sarampalli Malla Reddy, National Vice President of All India Kisan Sabha, and David Showry, leader of Bharatiya Kisan Morcha (BJP) fully supported the statement but could not join due to health and unavoidable reasons.