Memorandum to AP Chief Secretary on Loan Waiver

140622 Chief Secretary Telangana final Download

Rytu Swarajya Vedhika has a submitted a memorandum with the following demands.

  1. As a first measure, the Government must delink the loan waiver proposal from distribution of Kharif loans for the current agricultural season and should immediately take action to disburse crop loans  without delay to all the farmers including Tenant farmers.
  2. While the farming community is in deep crisis due to indebtedness, loan waiver is not a solution to end the crisis. The crisis is still continuing even after the debt waiver and relief extended during 2008.   A comprehensive solution lies in bringing in policy changes related to all aspects of agriculture (Credit, input support, extension and marketing) as well as pursuing the land reforms agenda with renewed vigour to bring about a meaningful change in the agriculture sector to help close to 85% ofsmall and marginal farmersto secure and sustain their livelihoods. . A piecemeal, myopic solution to the problem in the form of loan waivers alone is a grossly inadequate solution to the larger, complex set of problems ailing the farming sector in the State.
  3. Tenant farmers, dalits, tribal and women farmers who received lands under various land distributionschemes do not have access to institutional credit. They are taking loans from private money lenders, input dealers or Microfinance Institutions at a higher interest rate (as high as 60% Rs. 5 per Rs. 100 per month).  These farmers  are in deep crisis and constitute a large chunk of farmers committing suicides. This loan waiver is of no help  to them.
  4. Government should make immediate effort to increase access to institutional credit to real cultivators.  One of the problems often expressed by the bankers in giving crop loans to these farmers is the lack of a guarantee for repayment. The state government should establish a Credit Guarantee Fund for small and marginal farmers which can give collateral security to the tenant farmers.
  5. All the real cultivators who are not covered under institutional credit are to be organised into cooperatives and linked to the institutional credit.  All their high interest private loans can be swapped with low interest bank loans.
  6. Loans of all farmers who have committed suicides since 1997 have to be waived and their private loans be swapped with no interest bank loans.
  7. Government should introduce special budget for agriculture with an allocation of atleast 10% of the total budget.
  8. Government must ensure that the loan waiver does not benefit non-cultivating, absentee land owners who have other major sources of income or livelihood and have taken loans in the name of agriculture. Specific mechanisms must be evolved to identify and eliminate the above categories of landowners from the purview of the loan waiver scheme. Further, steps must be taken to identify the actual cultivators and update the revenue records accordingly. Government must also actively explore mechanisms (e.g. setting up a separate Committee) for evolving a set of criteria to enable eligible farmers benefit from the loan waiver scheme in a meaningful manner.
  9. Government should also take care that the loan waiver does not apply to ineligible loanees through the following measures
    1. Restricting the loan waiver only to crop loans
    2. In case government decides to waive short term and allied sector loans, it should be restricted to small and marginal farmers only (up to 4 ha in rainfed areas, 2 ha in irrigated areas)
    3. Exempting Hyderabad district from the purview of the loan waiver. A thorough enquiry should be conducted and if need be waiver can be extended in the second phase. Pending this, the crop loan waiver up to one lakh for all farmers in the other district should be done immediately.
  10. Government should with stain from any effort to impose additional taxes or issue bonds and transfer the burden on to people or the next government.

Mr. Prime Minister – You are wrong. GM crops are dangerous, and there is sound scientific evidence. says Coalition for GM Free India

Mr. Prime Minister – You are wrong. GM crops are dangerous, and there is sound scientific evidence. says Coalition for GM Free India

Coalition challenges the PM to prove that concerns about Bt Crops are prejudiced.

New Delhi, 4th Feb, 2014: Reacting to the promotional statement on Genetically Modified (GM) crops by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his inaugural address at the Indian Science Congress which started in Jammu yesterday [1], the Coalition for a GM Free India stated that the Prime Minister is wrong and wilfully misleading the nation on the issue of genetically modified (GM) crops.

The statement by the PM that the nation “should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt crop” comes at a time when there is a growing body of scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of GM crops on human health, environment and farm livelihoods. The Coalition had recently released a compilation of more than 400 abstracts of peer reviewed scientific papers that points to the various adverse impacts from GM crops [2].

The Final Report of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) set up by the Supreme Court of India in a PIL against open releases of GMOs into the environment has pointed to the inherent risks associated with GM crops and the absolute failure of the Indian regulatory system on GM crops. The TEC comprised of eminent scientists from the fields of molecular biology, toxicology, biodiversity, nutrition science etc had recommended against any open release of GM crops including for experimental trials, until a robust regulatory system is put in place. This was followed by more than 250 eminent Indian scientists including Padma awardees and 11 current and former Vice chancellors, writing to the Prime Minister about the serious concerns on GM crops[3]. They demanded that the Government of India stay clear of any vested interests and accept the recommendations of the TEC Final report as it is based on sound science, principles of sustainability and intergenerational justice.

Challenging the PM to prove his point that concerns about Bt Crops (GM crops with  toxin genes from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringenesis) are unscientific and prejudiced, the coalition also reminded that it was his own Government had agreed to serious lacunae in the biosafety studies related to Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop that came up for commercialisation and had put it under an indefinite moratorium. The Coalition for GM Free India demands Dr Manmohan Singh and his government to stop peddling risky GM crops and stand by the side of sound science and people of India.

Notes to the editor

1. The Prime Minister’s inaugural speech at the Indian Science Congress can be accessed at

http://pib.nic.in/newsite/pmreleases.aspx?mincode=3

2. The 2nd edition of the scientific compilation on adverse impacts of GM crops can be accessed at http://indiagminfo.org/?p=657

3. The letter to PM on concerns with GM crops by Indian Scientists can be accessed at http://indiagminfo.org/?p=654

For more info:

Rajesh Krishnan, Convenor, Coalition for GM Free India,

Mob: 09845650032 , email: rajeshecologist@gmail.com

Coalition for a GM-free India 

Website: www.indiagminfo.org, email : indiagmfree@gmail.com,  Facebook page – GM Watch India

Illegal planting of GM corn during field trials by Monsanto in UAS, Dharwad, Karnataka: GM Free Coalition

Coalition for GM-Free India

April 9th 2012

To

Smt.Jayanti Natarajan,

Minister for Environment & Forests ( Independent Charge )

Ministry for Environment & Forests.

Dear Madam,

Re: Illegal planting of GM corn during field trials by Monsanto in UAS, Dharwad, Karnataka

Ref : Letter from the MoEF dtd 12017/10/2012/CS-III dated 19th March, 2012.

We appreciate the response from the Ministry’s Gentic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) on the above subject; however we would like to point out that extracts from the minutes of the GEAC meeting 115 on February 8, 2012 does nothing to establish the legality of planting NK603. The GEAC minutes have not addressed or answered our representation about this serious matter of illegal GMO planting and the consequent threat to biosafety.

In fact the explanations from GEAC raises more questions, obfuscates issues and tries to avoid the issue of illegal planting without addressing it. Given below are the pertinent issues that point to the fact that our original representation about illegal planting stands valid and in addition, there now seems to be an effort to cover up the issue and make it seem legal and in order.

  1. As per point 1 (of the GEAC facts of the case from minutes of meeting 115) the protocol/experimental design submitted by the applicant (Monsanto for Biosafety Research Level-I of its GM maize) and approved by GEAC on four different occasions did not include the treatment with NK6031 as comparator. This means that at no previous stage of field trials of this transgenic corn, NK603 was used as a comparator.
  1. There were 4 different applications made to GEAC during the BRL-II trials of the same GM hybrid corns. (BRL-II, seed production and IRM). Three of them were taken up by GEAC during its 104th meeting on 15/11/2010 and the fourth one during its 105th meeting on 8/12/2010 (relevant excerpts from GEAC minutes attached for ready reference).
  1. The trial under question is the BRL-II which was discussed and approved on 15/11/2010 during the 104thmeeting of GEAC. The application from the applicant did not seek the use of NK603 as comparator. GEAC’s approval statement2 and its subsequent letter to the applicant did not carry any statement permitting the use NK603 as comparator. (Attached GEAC letter to applicant).
  1. Therefore the point 4 (of the GEAC facts of the case table from minutes of meeting 115) stating that “field design included the inclusion of the treatment with event NK603 as comparator” is completely incorrect.
  1. On the other hand, the GEAC minutes and the letter to the applicant with instructions about the trials protocols repeatedly and specifically state that the objectives of the trial (BRL-II) is to study the efficacy of transgenic corn hybrids and compare them with their non-transgenic counter parts (Attached GEAC letter to applicant).
  1. In parallel, while considering the application for IRM testing Monsanto had sought the permission to use NK603 as part of the refuge in a bag strategy. GEAC had explicitly refused permission for the use of NK603 as detailed here: “5.6.4 The Committee noted that the corn hybrids expressing NK603 has not been approved for environmental release and, therefore, rejected the request of the applicant to use transgenic corn hybrids expressing NK603 while conducting IRM trials for ascertaining refuge strategy.”3
  1. From the above points it is amply clear that GEAC had decided that the use of NK603 cannot be allowed as the GMO is not approved for environmental release.
  1. Further the notes from meeting 115 of GEAC mention that the same BRL-II of Monsanto’s maize trials going on at Anand, Gujarat is being conducted without treatment with NK603.

In view of the above how did the committee (of GEAC) during the discussions on 8th February, 2012 (meeting 115), reviewing these very facts conclude as follows: “the Committee noted the fact that the GEAC in its 104th and 105th meeting held on 15.11.2010 and 08.12.2010 respectively had approved the request of the applicant to conduct BRL-II trials with the inclusion of the treatment with event NK603 as a comparator.”4 ?

  • Where is the evidence that NK603 “unapproved for environmental release” according to GEAC’s own decision and disallowed for the IRM trial on those grounds, was for some reason allowed to be used as comparator for BRL-II trials of Monsanto maize?

  • How can we simply believe this assertion about the use of this unapproved GMO (NK603):

    • which is not backed by evidence

    • which stands contrary to GEAC’s own pronouncements in the same meeting about NK603

    • and which is not part of any previous or concurrent field trial protocol of the same crop in any other location other than UAS Dharwad?

  • Why has the applicant not been asked for any explanation in this whole process and why is the regulator defending the applicant?

  • While bringing these points we would also like to put it on record that in the sequence of events GEAC has tried more than once (Points 4, 13, 14) to obfuscate the issue with irrelevant and incorrect facts.

  • Also the regulator has cast aspersions on the head of the compliance committee in order to defend the applicant. This either means that people designated to do compliance and monitoring do not know the regulations and protocols, which in turn means that our assertion about the threat to biosafety due to unsupervised trials is again validated. If not that, then the officials are being made into scapegoats to defend a biotech-multinational like Monsanto which puts under the scanner the impartiality of GEAC and the stringency of its processes. How can we accept that the Principal Scientist of the Institute which was made into the supervising authority for these trials, which drew up the trial protocols, did not know what he was verifying and would have just made a frivolous remark without any basis during his monitoring visit on May 5th 2011 to the field trial? 

In view of the fact that no evidence and no scientific reasoning has been provided to establish the legality of the use of NK603, we believe that the planting of NK603 as comparator was illegal. We further allege that GEAC is involved in covering up this serious violation without being able to provide any reasoning or evidence.

 

 

The Coalition reiterates its demand that:

 

  • The Minister for Environment & Forests fix accountability on Monsanto and its Indian associates for violating Indian law.
  • MoEF take action against the regulators who repeatedly fail to check the violations of the corporations.

 

 

Thanking you

Yours truly

 

Sridhar Radhakrishnan,

Convener, Coalition for a GM-Free India

H-3, Jawahar Nagar, Kawdiar, Thiruvananthapuram – 695003, Kerala.

Ph : 09995358205

email : mail.thanal@gmail.com, website : www.indiagminfo.org

 

Copy to : Sri M F Farooqui, Chairman, GEAC

Ms Ranjini Warrier, Member Secretary, GEAC

1 NK603 is an unapproved GM HT corn whose planting is therefore illegal in India.

2 Minutes of the 104th meeting of GEAC on 15/11/2010 http://www.moef.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/decision-nov-104.pdf

3 Minutes of the 104th meeting of GEAC on 15/11/2010 http://www.moef.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/decision-nov-104.pdf

THOUSANDS MORE FARMERS JOINING KISAN-KHET MAZDOOR MAHAPANCHAYAT ON PARLIAMENT STREET: MAHAPANCHAYAT RESOLVES TO STAY PUT UNTIL DEMANDS MET

FAMERS’ DEMANDS TO THE PRIME MINISTER

New Delhi, March 19, 2013: On the second day of a large farmers’ rally in the heart of India’s capital here today, the Mahapanchayat (great assembly) of farmers and agriculture workers resolved to stay put until their demands are met. In a historical new formation, people’s movements and large farmers’ unions have come together to defend land rights and protect farm livelihoods. Lambasting the government for its anti-farmer policies, speaker after speaker rejected government’s development paradigm, which neglects rural India and agri livelihoods. The night saw thousands of farmers sleeping on Parliament Street in the open, with the government choosing to ignore them. “We are the Anna Daatas who keep the nation alive and the government cannot continue with its impoverishment policies towards farmers. More people are headed towards Delhi now and it looks like the government will respond only when an issue reaches a flash point”, said Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union.

The main demands of the Mahapanchayat include: (a) no land acquisition and taking back the land acquisition bill with its amendments to the standing committee, (b) enacting a farmers’ income guarantee act, (c) cancel free trade agreements, (d) promote ecological farming and stop toxic technologies like GMOs and pesticides.

 

 

The large gathering was addressed by farmers leaders and activists like Naresh Tikait, Yudhvir Singh, Ajmer Singh Lokhowal, Chukki Nanjundaswamy, Chellamuthu, Gurnam Singh, Medha Patkar, Ulka Mahajan, Kavitha Kuruganti etc.

 

 

“Two years ago, empty promises were made to us by the government; this was by the Prime Minister himself making assurances to us on March 8th, 2011. This is tantamount to cheating the largest chunk of citizens of the country and this is unacceptable. If the government does not act this time to respond to this non-violent movement, it would only reinforce the public perception and knowledge that the government is deaf to the needs of its citizens”, said a statement from the Panchayat.

 

 

The assembly saw many women farmers joining actively in the rally. Yesterday, there was a symbolic burning of the government’s land acquisition bill to show that it was unacceptable to the gathering. The Mahapanchayat also declared that unless the PMO responds to their demands, they will not move out.

 

 

 

For more information, contact: Dharmendar Kumar: 9219691168; Kannaiyan: 9444989543; Ashlesha: 9900200771

 

 

 

 

Greenpeace Challenges Sharad Pawar, says GM crops cannot offer food security Activists occupy FCI’s godown on eve of Parliament Budget session

 

New Delhi, February 20, 2013: Rejecting Sharad Pawar’s stance on GM crops being the answer to India’s food security, 17 Greenpeace activists unfurled a massive banner with the message “Say NO to GM, Yes to Food Security” at the Food Corporation of India’s godown in Delhi’s Mayapuri area. As the parliament prepares to kick off the budget session tomorrow, this act reiterates that the solution lies in adopting a holistic view of food security with focus on better food distribution systems rather than promoting false solutions like genetically modified crops (GM).

The police immediately came at the venue and detained the activists, they were later taken to Mayapuri police station. Commenting on the detention, eminent social activist Aruna Roy said, “The Greenpeace activists peacefully protesting against the position taken by Union Agri Minister, Sharad Pawar have been illegally detained. This detention is one more in a series of actions taken by the State to suppress dissent. They were infact protesting against the Minister’s attempt to trivialise the issue of food security by asserting that the controversial GM technology would, infact, offer security of food production. The Minister’s support for GM food crops is highly controversial and there is an ongoing international debate on this issue. We condemn the detention and demand immediate release of peaceful protestors.”

In the Monsoon Session of 2012, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture tabled their report on GM crops. One of the clear recommendations of the report was for the government to come up with a fresh road map to food security that does not adopt risky technologies like GM but addresses the shortcomings of storage, distribution and mismanagement of stocks. That GM food crops are a panacea for food security is an argument made to serve the interests of the biotech sector.

Echoing the voice of the Parliamentary Committee, more than 150 scientists from across the country have written to Smt Jayanthi Natarajan, expressing their displeasure at the Government of India for promoting GM crops as a way forward for food security.

Neha Saigal, campaigner, Greenpeace India said, “So far there has been no single GM crop developed for increasing yields and it has failed to show any such increase in yield in nearly two decades of its existence. Instead of forcing risky GM food down our throats, Mr Pawar needs to address the fact that millions of tonnes of grains in storage facilities across India, consistently fail to reach the people. And, as the environment minister, Smt Natarajan should take an unequivocal stand on GM crops.”

Kavita Srivastava, convenor, Right to Food campaign said, “The issue of food security is broader than production. The problem lies in the lack of a political will for a Universal Distribution System. The UPA Government must not be distracted by GM crops as a solution to food security, but focus on an inclusive food security bill..”

Greenpeace urges the Minister of Environment, Jayanthi Natarajan, who is the decision maker on the environmental release of GMOs to intervene so that the MoA does not mislead the debate of food security.

Farmer unions speak out in Hyderabad on GM crops on National Food Safety Day

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.

 

Conference organised by the Ministry of Agriculture on “Doubling Food Production in Five Years” – Ignoring Parliament – In brazen support of corporate interests at the expense of farmers

Coalition for a GM-Free India

New Delhi

29-01-2013

To

Shri Sharad Pawar,

Ministry for Agriculture,

Goverrnment of India.

Re: Conference organised by the Ministry of Agriculture on “Doubling Food Production in Five Years” – Ignoring Parliament – In brazen support of corporate interests at the expense of farmers’ – reg.

It has come to our attention that the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is organising a Conference on “Doubling Food Production in Five years” from February 1-3, 2013 at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. On the face of it, it appears to be a regular program of the Ministry. However, two things draw our attention to this particular Conference : first, the predominance of vested interests acting behind it i.e, the ones promoting the Conference with full page advertisements in national newspapers – the Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India(PMFAI), the National Seed Association of India(NSAI) and the biotech lobby group-ABLE and second, some of the “eminent” speakers selected to address the Conference – some of them controversial figures well known for their support of GM crops without supporting scientific facts or evidence.

Sir, you know very well that the Standing Committee on Agriculture of the Indian Parliament has in its path-breaking report of August 2012, come down heavily on this dangerous path that your Ministry is leading the country into. It said “In their tearing hurry to open the economy to private prospectors, the Government should not make the same fate befall on the agriculture sector as has happened to the communications, pharma, mineral wealth and several other sectors in which the Government’s facilitative benevelonce preceded setting up of sufficient checks and balances and regulatory mechanisms, thereby, leading to colossal, unfettered loot and plunder of national wealth in some form or the other, incalculable damage to environment, biodiversity, flora and fauna and unimaginable suffering to the common man.” [Para 3.48].

Many of the members of the Committee were UPA Parliamentarians, as you are aware.

It is grossly irresponsible, unscientific, misleading and completely unethical for the Ministry to blatantly promote technologies such as GM crops, when as a country, India is trying to come out of the pesticide tread-mill and make its production, agriculture and its farmers livelihood sustainable, safe and remunerative. It is also reprehensible that the Ministry of Agriculture, which is answerable to the larger public and the farmers is acting at the behest of the industries who stand to profit from these unneeded, hazardous technologies. We would also like to point out that the Ministry’s own inquiry through the Sopory Committee has brought to the fore egregious failings with regard to transgenic research and regulation in this country.

This blatant attempt by the Ministry makes it clear that MoA is not genuinely interested in addressing food security in any lasting fashion or acting in a scientific way when it comes to many problems in our farming, but is interested in blindly promoting certain technologies, for private and possibly vested and corrupt interests.

Food security of a country like India is not an issue the MoA should let vested interests sabotage; it requires serious efforts from the Ministry and its officials to listen to all stakeholders and to arrive at a well thought out and optimal solution to address it, drawing from various areas of expertise, experience and knowledge domains. We reproduce what the Parliamentary Standing Committee had said on this matter.

The present worrisome situation” as regards food security is primarily because of “faulty procurement policy, mismanagement of stocks, lack of adequate and proper storage, hoarding and lopsided distribution, massive leakages in the public distribution delivery system, etc.” It also adds categorically that “If these shortcomings and problems are attended to along with liberal financial assistance to agriculture and allied sectors, proactive measures are initiated to arrest the decreasing trend in cultivable area and farmer friendly and sustainable agricultural practices are put in use, there would not be any compelling need for adopting technologies which are yet to be proven totally safe for biodiversity, environment, human and livestock health and which will encourage monoculture, an option best avoided.”

The committee finally recommends that “the Government come up with a fresh road map for ensuring food security in coming years without jeopardizing the vast bio-diversity of the country and compromising with the safety of human health and livestock health.” [Para – 7.71].

It is unclear how your Ministry thinks that food security can be achieved with the help of the pesticide industry, the seed industry (that is increasingly playing into the hands of the biotech majors such as Monsanto) and the biotech industry with a single agenda of promoting genetically modified seed that is not only inadequately tested but also adequately patented so as to ensure a complete rout of our agricultural sovereignty!!! It is quite perplexing how the post-modern science and discourse in agriculture has evolved towards sustainability and agro-ecology all over the world, but is being denied vehemently by your Ministry in this country. The same applies to the nuanced understanding around the complexity of hunger and malnutrition, including structural poverty-related issues, whereas your Ministry wants unproven techno-fixes to be deployed as a one-size-fits-all solution.

It is surprising that solutions offered by globally recognised initiatives such as the IAASTD do not seem to have attracted your attention at all. And again here the Standing Committee on Agriculture has some excellent suggestions. It says “the Committee would like to remind the Government of India that they are a signatory to this path breaking effort (IAASTD Report) and in the opinion of the Committee, the Government would do well if they adopt this Report as the way forward for development of agriculture and allied sectors in India, in a sustainable and environmental friendly manner, and with no unwanted risks to biodiversity, human and livestock health, flora and fauna. The Committee also desire to be apprised of the concrete action taken by the Government on each of the findings contained in IAASTD Report during the four years after the release of the Report.” [Para 5.52]

All said and done, the Ministry of Agriculture seems to be least interested in anything that is even remotely connected to sustainability (farm as well as farm livelihood) and is only interested in helping corporate and MNC powers to dominate and profit, even at the cost of the lives of farmers and the hapless Indian consumer. There is also deep disrespect being shown towards the Indian Parliament, whose report your Ministry is ignoring and acting in contravention to its recommendations.

Hence, we are writing this letter to express our deep anguish and anger at the really worrying direction that your Ministry and hence the Government of India is leading Indian agriculture into. The fact that you are hosting people like Dennis Avery, Peter Raven, Patrick Moore and Mark Lynas to name a few demonstrates the desperation that your Ministry shares with the GM and pesticides industries to shove such dangerous technologies down the throats of the Indian public. As recently as last week the ruling party in its conclave promised that it will listen more to the people of the country, and this is definitely not the peoples wish!

Therefore, we are sending this letter to express our condemnation of such blatant vested interests being involved in policy-making and within the government. Moreover, there are accountability questions with public funds utilised for such promotional activities of profiteering industries and unscientific worldviews. The government should appreciate that this will only instigate a greater public outcry from citizens for their science, knowledge, experience and worldviews to be heard and taken on board, while shaping future directions.

We urge you not to go ahead with such a wrongly-founded Conference and also urge you to not host these controversial speakers and provide a platform to hazardous industries and waste precious public funds on events such as these.

With due respects and concerns

ridhar Radhakrishnan

Convener,

Coalition for a GM-Free India.

Copy to :

  1. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

  2. Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, United Progressive Alliance

  3. Sri.Jaipal Reddy, Minister for Science and Technology

  4. Smt.Jayanti Natarajan, Minister of State for Environment and Forests

Coalition for a GM-Free India is a broad national network of organizations, scientists, farmer unions, consumer groups and individuals committed to keep the food and farms in India free of Genetically Modified Organisms and to protecting India’s food security and sovereignty.

 Coalition for a GM-free India

c/o INSAF, A-124/6, First Floor, Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi 110 016, Phone/Fax: 011-26517814

Website: www.indiagminfo.org, email: indiagmfree@gmail.com, Facebook – GM Watch India

ANNEXURE:

The announcement of the Conference lists atleast two Chief Ministers, many ministers and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture. In addition there are representatives from FAO and ILRI. The CEO of one of the largest  agro-business corporations in Latin America and the President of EMBRAPA ( Brazil) find a place in the speakers list.  It also has four known  GM crop promoters. Some information on them is provided below:

A short note on the affiliations of some of the ‘eminent speakers’

  • Dennis Avery – Director of Hudson Institute1 , considered a conservative think tank, which is supported by large corporations including agri-business corporations2. He is an anti-organicfarming advocate and a strong supporter of biotechnology in agriculture, pesticides and a climate change skeptic.3 4
  • Mark Lynas  The biotech industrys newly minted star, according to his own profile is a speaker on climate change5, nowhere he is featured as an anti-GM activist. He began promotingGM crops since the last three years.6 He has claimed to have ‘helped start’ the anti-GM movement and also said to have ‘coordinated with Indian groups both untrue! The Coalition has already put out a detailed statement which can be accessed here.7
  • Patrick Moore Runs his own consulting firm which reportedly does “public relations efforts, lectures, lobbying.8According to Greenpeace (Moore uses his past link to GP even now)Patrick Moore is , “a paid spokesman for the nuclear industry, the logging industry, and genetic engineering industry, frequently cites a long-ago affiliation with Greenpeace to gain legitimacy inthe media.9 Greenpeace says “Patrick Moore frequently portrays himself as a founder or co-founder of Greenpeace, and many news outlets have repeated this characterization. AlthoughMr. Moore played a significant role in Greenpeace Canada for several years, he did not found Greenpeace.10 It is interesting to note that even in this profile for the Conference of Ministry ofAgriculture, he gives his long ago Greenpeace affiliation( which ended more than 25 years back) rather than his lobbying work of the past 20 years .
  • Peter Raven President Emeritus of Missouri Gardens which has a long standing and close relationship with Monsanto and is an advocate of GM crops.11 Missouri Gardens has beenworking with and receiving funds from Monsanto since 1999. Even as recently as May 2012 Monsanto gifted three million dollars to the Missouri botanical gardens.12 In addition many of thefacilities in Missuori Gardens are funded by Monsanto like the Monsanto Hall, Monsanto Center etc.13 Along with Monsanto the Missouri Botanical Gradens was one of the key groupsinvolved in forming the Danforth Plant Science Centre, which promotes GM crop research.14

10 ibid

Please endorse: CITIZENS’ LETTER TO DR SWAPAN KUMAR DATTA

If you want to endorse the following letter, please write back to me, at kavitha.kuruganti@gmail.com by tomorrow evening (24th May – sorry for the short notice). If you cannot write to me by tomorrow evening for some reason, please send this letter directly to the people marked in the Citizens’ Letter to Dr Swapan Kumar Datta.To:

Dr Swapan Kumar Datta,

DDG-Crop Science,

Indian Council For Agricultural Research,

New Delhi.

Email: ddgcs.icar@nic.in

 

Dear Dr Swapan Kumar Datta,

Sub: Your reported offer of Indian gene banks to MNC partners – our serious objection and resistance to the same

Ref: “India Institute seeks expertise in global seed business”, Wall Street Journal (India) on May 18th 2012, available athttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303360504577411540343437830.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs%3Darticle

In this news report, you are quoted as saying that ICAR is seeking to collaborate with MNCs, by offering its massive seed gene bank in exchange for “expertise”, to tap into an international seed market and for development of a variety of high-yielding, climate-tolerant seeds that could be used in India and elsewhere, “taking a small share of the profits”. Some of us assume that you have not said so and that you will send in a rejoinder to the journal.

However, if you had indeed said this, this letter is to highlight some pertinent points and register our serious objection to such proposals.

  1. You seem to have forgotten that such collaborations with MNCs and others have already ended up with governments, public sector bodies and the private corporations having mud on their faces. This includes the infamous Bt brinjal bio-piracy issue with the National Biodiversity Authority deciding to prosecute the offenders, the “indigenous” Bt cotton ‘contamination-with-Monsanto-event’ episode and so on. All these cases show that complicated IPR issues are involved in all such collaborations and that farmer communities are not going to be sitting idle when germplasm that they and their ancestors have evolved goes to line the pockets of private corporations or entities such as yours, ostensibly set up for public good and run with public funds. 
  1. The Indian agricultural research establishment has evolved and released many seed varieties, through established varietal release mechanisms, over the years. However, the reason why such seed is not seen in the farmers’ field is because of deliberate government policies around promoting private and proprietary seed markets, not because you did not evolve new seed lines (especially in the past).
  1. The germplasm collection, which you have so gratuitously offered, has been contributed to, by farming communities of the country. Public bodies like ICAR have been made a custodian of invaluable germplasm in good faith, and not to auction it off thereby alienating farmers from their own rightful resources and make such resources unaffordable and inaccessible for them! We have not forgotten all the scandals that abound in this country today, around the government making itself the owner of such natural resources.
  1. We would also like to remind you about the ignominous Syngenta-IGKVV deal about a decade ago and how the farming communities in Chattisgarh forced both parties to beat a hasty retreat from such murky deals. Don’t also forget the attempted Mahyco tie up with the agriculture university in Kerala in the recent past to access their rice germplasm. This is just to remind you that farmers’ unions and all political outfits which are concerned about this country’s and farming communities’ sovereignty will not allow for such proposals. The reasons are obvious, the public is aware of the history of these corporations and the results of such tie-ups in the past. Also the fact of the matter is that even if you seem to want to write the epitaph of the public sector institutions like ICAR, the public is concerned about the genuine functioning  and future of such public sector institutions, meant to support and cater to the real needs of farmers.

We are also deeply concerned about, opposed to and will continue to resist the anti-farmer, exclusionary, monopolistic behaviour of MNCs in their profit-mongering and we are unequivocally opposed to public institutions serving their interests. We are yet to see any collaboration where the farmers have actually benefited, that too in sustainable ways, from such partnerships with MNCs or other private entities. Remember that in the recent past, several state governments have realized this and decided against such collaborations in the states of Odisha, Rajasthan, Gujarat etc. In this context, ICAR coming up with such proposals demonstrates hubris and a complete lack of understanding about the real needs of the farming community.

  1. It is ridiculous to talk about India and its public sector institutions capturing global seed markets (or a share of the same) when India’s seed sector is being captured by others leading to greater distress for our farmers – the cotton seed sector is a classic example where the public sector’s ineptitude and apathy was proven beyond doubt, with an American MNC controlling 93% of the seed market today.

 

  1. The mandate for the Indian NARS is not to capture markets here or globally, but to cater to the real needs of our farmers, who are in deep distress. This is the hour when ICAR institutions should be rising to the challenge and providing sustainable solutions for farmers, not selling the germplasm of the nation and further jeopardizing our food sovereignty. Any meek or ambitious abandoning of its role and responsibility, despite the employees paying themselves good salaries and obtaining good infrastructure from public funds will not be tolerated.
  1. Dr Datta, we would also like to remind you that during the Bt brinjal public debate organized by the then Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment & Forests, the issue of seed sovereignty was raised repeatedly in the debate, as a matter of grave concern for the citizens of this country.  The Bt brinjal moratorium decision note of the MoEF also refers to potential jeopardy to national sovereignty and developing countervailing power (to Monsanto).

 

We regret having to make a personal statement about you and other people like Dr K C Bansal, who is heading the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, but this has to be said too – We don’t trust you to stand by the farmers in the country. You have personally proven yourself to be untrustworthy by interfering in the decision-making of the apex regulatory body related to GMOs in India (the GEAC – Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee), by blatantly exhibiting conflict of interest in the case of your wife’s and your earlier research project on GM rice. Dr K C Bansal has openly lobbied along with industry associations in favor of transgenics and this ardent advocate of a controversial, unproven technology has now been given the responsibility of safeguarding the germplasm collection of the country, the NBPGR, even though it is well known that transgenic seeds will contaminate other varieties, and affect diversity!

This is to communicate our deep resistance to your proposals related to India’s gene banks. We will vehemently oppose all such moves and urge you to drop them.

 

 

cc:

Director-General, ICAR, Government of India;

Minister for Agriculture, Government of India;

Prime Minister of India.

 

 

Sincerely,

  1. Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad                ramoo.csa@gmail.com
  2. Kavitha Kuruganti, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner, Bangalore
  3. Ramasubramanian, Samanvaya Consulting, Chennai
  4. Ananthasayanan, Safe Food Alliance, Chennai
  5. Usha Jayakumar, Thanal, Trivandrum
  6. Pankaj Bhushan, Tara Foundation, Patna
  7. Aruna Rodrigues, Lead Petitioner, SC PIL on GMOs