Transforming Rice Production with SRI (System of Rice Intensification) Knowledge and Practice

The book “Transforming Rice Production with SRI (System of Rice Intensification) Knowledge and Practice” written by Dr. T.M. Thiyagarajan and Dr. Biksham Gujja, is an attempt to explain the origin, principles and practices of SRI and the developments so far in communicating the importance of SRI to rice farmers, students, scientists and policy makers so that the material could be used for extension, research and policy support. The contents have been assembled from various sources, especially from SRI websites, WWF-ICRISAT project and its partner organizations and Institutes, presentations made in national SRI symposia, publications and reports on SRI, field visits and interaction with farmers.
Below provided is the direct link for downloading the pdf file of the book.

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Why genetically engineered food is dangerous

http://earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/GMO_Myths_and_Truths/GMO_Myths_and_Truths_1.1.pdfNew report by genetic engineers

Press release for immediate release
Earth Open Source
17 June 2012
Contact: Claire Robinson +44 (0)752 753 6923 (UK) claire.robinson@earthopensource.org
Dr John Fagan +1 312 351 2001  jfagan@earthopensource.org
Dr Michael Antoniou +44 (0)20 7188 3708  michael.antoniou@kcl.ac.uk

LONDON, UK – Aren’t critics of genetically engineered food anti-science? Isn’t the debate over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) a spat between emotional but ignorant activists on one hand and rational GM-supporting scientists on the other?

A new report released today, “GMO Myths and Truths”,[1] challenges these claims. The report presents a large body of peer-reviewed scientific and other authoritative evidence of the hazards to health and the environment posed by genetically engineered crops and organisms (GMOs).

Unusually, the initiative for the report came not from campaigners but from two genetic engineers who believe there are good scientific reasons to be wary of GM foods and crops.

One of the report’s authors, Dr Michael Antoniou of King’s College London School of Medicine in the UK, uses genetic engineering for medical applications but warns against its use in developing crops for human food and animal feed.

Dr Antoniou said: “GM crops are promoted on the basis of ambitious claims – that they are safe to eat, environmentally beneficial, increase yields, reduce reliance on pesticides, and can help solve world hunger.

“I felt what was needed was a collation of the evidence that addresses the technology from a scientific point of view.

“Research studies show that genetically modified crops have harmful effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials and on the environment during cultivation. They have increased the use of pesticides and have failed to increase yields. Our report concludes that there are safer and more effective alternatives to meeting the world’s food needs.”

Another author of the report, Dr John Fagan, is a former genetic engineer who in 1994 returned to the National Institutes of Health $614,000 in grant money due to concerns about the safety and ethics of the technology. He subsequently founded a GMO testing company.

Dr Fagan said: “Crop genetic engineering as practiced today is a crude, imprecise, and outmoded technology. It can create unexpected toxins or allergens in foods and affect their nutritional value. Recent advances point to better ways of using our knowledge of genomics to improve food crops, that do not involve GM.

“Over 75% of all GM crops are engineered to tolerate being sprayed with herbicide. This has led to the spread of herbicide-resistant superweeds and has resulted in massively increased exposure of farmers and communities to these toxic chemicals. Epidemiological studies suggest a link between herbicide use and birth defects and cancer.

“These findings fundamentally challenge the utility and safety of GM crops, but the biotech industry uses its influence to block research by independent scientists and uses its powerful PR machine to discredit independent scientists whose findings challenge this approach.”

The third author of the report, Claire Robinson, research director of Earth Open Source, said, “The GM industry is trying to change our food supply in far-reaching and potentially dangerous ways. We all need to inform ourselves about what is going on and ensure that we – not biotechnology companies – keep control of our food system and crop seeds.

“We hope our report will contribute to a broader understanding of GM crops and the sustainable alternatives that are already working successfully for farmers and communities.”

ENDS

Notes

1. The report, “GMO Myths and Truths, An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops”, by Michael Antoniou, PhD, Claire Robinson, and John Fagan, PhD is published by Earth Open Source (June 2012). The report is 123 pages long and contains over 600 citations, many of them from the peer-reviewed scientific literature and the rest from reports by scientists, physicians, government bodies, industry, and the media. The report is available here: http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58
A shorter summary version will be released in the coming weeks.

News points from the report

1.      Genetic engineering as used in crop development is not precise or predictable and has not been shown to be safe. The technique can result in the unexpected production of toxins or allergens in food that are unlikely to be spotted in current regulatory checks.
2.      GM crops, including some that are already in our food and animal feed supply, have shown clear signs of toxicity in animal feeding trials – notably disturbances in liver and kidney function and immune responses.
3.      GM proponents have dismissed these statistically significant findings as “not biologically relevant/significant”, based on scientifically indefensible arguments.
4.      Certain EU-commissioned animal feeding trials with GM foods and crops are often claimed by GM proponents to show they are safe. In fact, examination of these studies shows significant differences between the GM-fed and control animals that give cause for concern.
5.      GM foods have not been properly tested in humans, but the few studies that have been carried out in humans give cause for concern.
6.      The US FDA does not require mandatory safety testing of GM crops, and does not even assess the safety of GM crops but only “deregulates” them, based on assurances from biotech companies that they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. This is like claiming that a cow with BSE is substantially equivalent to a cow that does not have BSE and is thus safe to eat! Claims of substantial equivalence cannot be justified on scientific grounds.
7.      The regulatory regime for GM foods is weakest in the US, where GM foods do not even have to be assessed for safety or labelled in the marketplace, but in most regions of the world regulations are inadequate to protect people’s health from the potential adverse effects of GM foods.
8.      In the EU, where the regulatory system is often claimed to be strict, minimal pre-market testing is required for a GMO and the tests are commissioned by the same companies that stand to profit from the GMO if it is approved – a clear conflict of interest.
9.      No long-term toxicological testing of GMOs on animals or testing on humans is required by any regulatory agency in the world.
10.     Biotech companies have used patent claims and intellectual property protection laws to restrict access of independent researchers to GM crops for research purposes. As a result, limited research has been conducted on GM foods and crops by scientists who are independent of the GM industry. Scientists whose work has raised concerns about the safety of GMOs have been attacked and discredited in orchestrated campaigns by GM crop promoters.
11.     Most GM crops (over 75%) are engineered to tolerate applications of herbicides. Where such GM crops have been adopted, they have led to massive increases in herbicide use.
12.     Roundup, the herbicide that over 50% of all GM crops are engineered to tolerate, is not safe or benign as has been claimed but has been found to cause malformations (birth defects), reproductive problems, DNA damage, and cancer in test animals. Human epidemiological studies have found an association between Roundup exposure and miscarriage, birth defects, neurological development problems, DNA damage, and certain types of cancer.
13.     A public health crisis has erupted in GM soy-producing regions of South America, where people exposed to spraying with Roundup and other agrochemicals sprayed on the crop report escalating rates of birth defects and cancer.
14.     A large number of studies indicate that Roundup is associated with increased crop diseases, especially infection with Fusarium, a fungus that causes wilt disease in soy and can have toxic effects on humans and livestock.
15.     Bt insecticidal GM crops do not sustainably reduce pesticide use but change the way in which pesticides are used: from sprayed on, to built in.
16.     Bt technology is proving unsustainable as pests evolve resistance to the toxin and secondary pest infestations are becoming common.
17.     GM proponents claim that the Bt toxin engineered into GM plants is safe because the natural form of Bt, long used as a spray by conventional and organic farmers, has a history of safe use. But the GM forms of Bt toxins are different from the natural forms and could have different toxic and allergenic effects.
18.     GM Bt toxin is not limited in its toxicity to insect pests. GM Bt crops have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials.
19.     GM Bt crops have been found to have toxic effects on non-target organisms in the environment.
20.     Bt toxin is not fully broken down in digestion and has been found circulating in the blood of pregnant women in Canada and in the blood supply to their foetuses.
21.     The no-till method of farming promoted with GM herbicide-tolerant crops, which avoids ploughing and uses herbicides to control weeds, is not more climate-friendly than ploughing. No-till fields do not store more carbon in the soil than ploughed fields when deeper levels of soil are measured.
22.     No-till increases the negative environmental impacts of soy cultivation, because of the herbicides used.
23.     Golden Rice, a beta-carotene-enriched rice, is promoted as a GM crop that could help malnourished people overcome vitamin A deficiency. But Golden Rice has not been tested for toxicological safety, has been plagued by basic development problems, and, after more than 12 years and millions of dollars of research funding, is still not ready for the market. Meanwhile, inexpensive and effective solutions to vitamin A deficiency are available but under-used due to lack of funding.
24.     GM crops are often promoted as a “vital tool in the toolbox” to feed the world’s growing population, but many experts question the contribution they could make, as they do not offer higher yields or cope better with drought than non-GM crops. Most GM crops are engineered to tolerate herbicides or to contain a pesticide – traits that are irrelevant to feeding the hungry.
25.     High adoption of GM crops among farmers is not a sign that the GM crop is superior to non-GM varieties, as once GM companies gain control of the seed market, they withdraw non-GM seed varieties from the market. The notion of “farmer choice” does not apply in this situation.
26.     GM contamination of non-GM and organic crops has resulted in massive financial losses by the food and feed industry, involving product recalls, lawsuits, and lost markets.
27.     When many people read about high-yielding, pest- and disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, and nutritionally improved super-crops, they think of GM. In fact, these are all products of conventional breeding, which continues to outstrip GM in producing such crops. The report contains a long list of these conventional crop breeding successes.
28.     Certain “supercrops” have been claimed to be GM successes when in fact they are products of conventional breeding, in some cases assisted by the non-GM biotechnology of marker assisted selection.
29.     Conventional plant breeding, with the help of non-GM biotechnologies such as marker assisted selection, is a safer and more powerful method than GM to produce new crop varieties required to meet current and future needs of food production, especially in the face of rapid climate change.
30.     Conventionally bred, locally adapted crops, used in combination with agroecological farming practices, offer a proven, sustainable approach to ensuring global food security.

About the authors

Michael Antoniou, PhD is reader in molecular genetics and head, Gene Expression and Therapy Group, King’s College London School of Medicine, London, UK. He has 28 years’ experience in the use of genetic engineering technology investigating gene organisation and control, with over 40 peer reviewed publications of original work, and holds inventor status on a number of gene expression biotechnology patents. Dr Antoniou has a large network of collaborators in industry and academia who are making use of his discoveries in gene control mechanisms for the production of research, diagnostic and therapeutic products and human somatic gene therapies for inherited and acquired genetic disorders.

John Fagan, PhD is a leading authority on sustainability in the food system, biosafety, and GMO testing. He is founder and chief scientific officer of Global ID Group, a company with subsidiaries involved in GMO food testing and GMO-free certification. He is a director of Earth Open Source. Earlier, he conducted cancer research at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and in academia. He holds a PhD in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology from Cornell University.

Dr Fagan became an early voice in the scientific debate on genetic engineering when in 1994 he took an ethical stand challenging the use of germ line gene therapy (which has subsequently been banned in most countries) and genetic engineering in agriculture. He underlined his concerns by returning a grant of around $614,000 to the US National Institutes of Health, awarded for cancer research that used genetic engineering as a research tool. He was concerned that knowledge generated in his research could potentially be misused to advance human germ-line genetic engineering (for example, to create “designer babies”), which he found unacceptable on grounds of both safety and ethics. For similar reasons, around the same time, he withdrew applications for two additional grants totalling $1.25 million from the NIH and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). In 1996 he started Global ID when he saw that GMO testing could be useful to assist industry in pr
oviding
consumers with the transparency that they desired regarding the presence of GMOs in foods.

Claire Robinson, MPhil is research director at Earth Open Source. She has a background in investigative reporting and the communication of topics relating to public health, science and policy, and the environment. She is an editor at GMWatch (www.gmwatch.org), a public information service on issues relating to genetic modification, and was formerly managing editor at SpinProfiles (now Powerbase).

Earth Open Source

Earth Open Source (www.earthopensource.org) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assuring the sustainability, security, and safety of the global food system. It supports agroecological, farmer-based systems that conserve soil, water, and energy and that produce healthy and nutritious food free from unnecessary toxins. It challenges the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture on the grounds of the scientifically proven hazards that they pose to health and the environment and on the grounds of the negative social and economic impacts of these technologies. Earth Open Source holds that our crop seeds and food system are common goods that belong in the hands of farmers and citizens, not of the GMO and chemical industry. Earth Open Source has established four lines of action, each of which fulfils a specific aspect of its mission:
•Science and policy platform
•Scientific research
•Citizens’ learning and action
•Sustainable rural development.

ICT in Agriculture Sourcebook

Offers practical and up to date information on ICT in Agriculture focusing on rural development

BACKGROUND

Realizing the profound potential of information and communication technologies in developing country agriculture, the Agriculture and Rural Development Department (ARD) of the World Bank in collaboration with infoDev (part of the World Bank Group) embarked in an effort to explore and capture the expanding knowledge and use of ICT tools in agrarian livelihoods.  In November 2011, the World Bank released an electronic Sourcebook (e-Sourcebook) to initiate further (and better) investment in this sector.
Called “ICT in Agriculture”, the e-Sourcebook provides practitioners within and outside of the World Bank Group with lessons learned, guiding principles, and hundreds of examples and case studies on applying information and communication technologies in poor agriculture.

Learn more:

Walmart Effect: for those who are batting for FDIs in retail sector

We are hearing Manmohan Singh and his gang, Saharad Pawar, Jaiprakash Narayan and others batting for FDIs in Retail oector and saying that FDIs in retail sector will increase employment opportunities and provide better prices to farmers.  In US the organised retail sector led by Walmart has successfully pushed down the prices for the farmers and killed all the small time shop keepers.  Read from various sources, Universities on the ‘Walmart Effect’.

Unfortunately in India no Academic institute is interested in this.  Fortunately the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce has made a critical analysis on this.

Understanding Wal-Mart Effect

Wal-Mart and Local Enemy

The new Wal-Mart Effect: Role of private contracting in global governance

The Effect of Wal-Mart on local labour market

Impact Wal-Mart phenomenon on Rural Communities

Wal-Mart and Country wide poverty

Wal-Mart’s impact on America’s Economy, Environment and Communities

Wal-Mart’s Economic Foot print: a literature review

 

Locational impact of Wal-Mart entrance

Wal-Mart effect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Virtuous circles’ can help secure food supplies and address climate change

Submitted by Mike on Tue, 22/11/2011 – 00:01

A book published today by IIED paints a vivid picture of an alternative future in which food, energy and water supplies are sustainable and in the control of local communities.

The book show how the linear systems that shape our world are flawed as they assume a limitless supply of resources and a limitless capacity for the environment to absorb waste and pollution.

The global food system’s dependence on fossil fuels that contribute to local pollution and global warming is just one example of an unsustainable system.

The authors call instead for circular systems that mimic natural cycles to produce food, energy, materials and clean water.

“Circular economy models that reintegrate food and energy production with water and waste management can also generate jobs and income in rural and urban areas,” says co-author Dr Michel Pimbert, a principal researcher at IIED. “This ensures that wealth created stays within the local and regional economy.”

One example is a system that recycles food waste and chicken manure to feed a worm farm. The worms in turn feed the chickens and farmed fish whose bones are used as fertiliser in a market garden. Human waste via a compost toilet also enriches the garden, whose crops — together with the farmed fish and meat and eggs from the chickens — feed the people.

The system is a closed circle with loops within it. All the nutrients stay in the system and just move about through the circle, rather than being pumped as sewage into the sea and leaving the soil forever poorer.

“A transformation towards re-localised food systems will significantly help to address climate change and other challenges,” says Pimbert. “Circular systems also provide the basis for economic and political sovereignty – the ability of citizens to democratically manage their own affairs and engage with other communities on their own terms.”

Dr Caroline Lucas, a member of parliament from the Green Party of England & Wales, has written the book’s foreword.

“I warmly welcome this book’s contribution to the debate on how food systems can be redesigned and re-localised to sustain diverse local ecologies, economies and human well being,” she writes.

“The authors rightly emphasise the need for a systemic and fundamental transformation of industrial food and farming in the face of peak oil, climate change, biodiversity loss, the water crisis, food poisonings, and the impoverishment of farmers and rural communities.”

“The challenge is to design resilient food systems with, by and for citizens – to reduce ecological footprints and foster local democratic control over the means of life. But rather than look at food and agriculture in isolation, we need to consider ways of re-integrating food and energy production with water and waste management in a diversity of local contexts in rural and urban areas, – and at different scales. “

To mark the launch of the book – Virtuous Circles: Values, systems and sustainability — IIED invites bloggers to join a virtual circle to share their blog posts about the book. Once you have posted a blog on your own site please send us the link (toSuzanne.Fisher@iied.org). IIED will then profile the best posts on its own blog and via Twitter with the hashtag #vcircles.

Download the book: Virtuous Circles: Values, systems and sustainability

Genetically Engineered Food An Overview

Since the 1996 introduction of genetically engineered crops — crops that are altered

with inserted genetic material to exhibit a desired trait — U.S. agribusiness and
policymakers have embraced biotechnology as a silver bullet for the food system.
The industry promotes biotechnology as an environmentally responsible, profitable
way for farmers to feed a growing global population. But despite all the hype,
genetically engineered plants and animals do not perform better than their traditional
counterparts, and they raise a slew of health, environmental and ethical concerns.
The next wave of the “Green Revolution” promises increased technology to ensure
food security and mitigate the effects of climate change, but it has not delivered.
The only people who are experiencing security are the few, massive corporations
that are controlling the food system at every step and seeing large profit margins.

http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/GeneticallyEngineeredFood.pdf