Mahaboobnagar reeling under drought

The crisis is further aggravated by the changed cropping patterns. today has 30% area under cotton, about 30% area under orchard crops and 15% each under paddy and hybrid maize which are water guzzling.

The district which receives on average 500 mm rainfall is increasingly seeing deficit in no. of rainy days. for example in July, Amangal dist received 25% of the monthly average rainfall only in a day and rest of the days were dry.

Government should immediately focus on

  • protecting any crop which is surviving. this needs plans for protective irrigation. any tubewells in the village should be blocked for use to grow water intensive crops like paddy and be shared with other farmers to protect the crop by paying suitable compensation
  • planning short term pulse crop like greengram or horsegram in areas where sowing have not happend or where crop has already failed.
  •  completely stopping paddy cultivation in rabi season
  • discouraging organge plantations
  • provide relief in terms fodder and water to support livestock

and as a long term measure plan for

  • shift from cotton, maize and paddy to millets, pulses and oilseeds
  • insitu water harvesting at the farm level

Major study documents benefits of organic farming

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writerbenbrook-80

PULLMAN, Wash. – The largest study of its kind has found that organic foods and crops have a suite of advantages over their conventional counterparts, including more antioxidants and fewer, less frequent pesticide residues.

The study looked at an unprecedented 343 peer-reviewed publications comparing the nutritional quality and safety of organic and conventional plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables and grains. The study team applied sophisticated meta-analysis techniques to quantify differences between organic and non-organic foods.

Quality of studies improves

“Science marches on,” said Charles Benbrook, a Washington State University researcher and the lone American co-author of the paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition. “Our team learned valuable lessons from earlier reviews on this topic, and we benefited from the team’s remarkable breadth of scientific skills and experience.”

Most of the publications covered in the study looked at crops grown in the same area on similar soils. This approach reduces other possible sources of variation in nutritional and safety parameters.

The research team found the quality and reliability of comparison studies has greatly improved in recent years, leading to the discovery of significant nutritional and food safety differences not detected in earlier studies. For example, the new study incorporates the results of a research project led by WSU’s John Reganold that compared the nutritional and sensory quality of organic and conventional strawberries grown in California.

Responding to the new paper’s results, Reganold said, “This is an impressive study, and its major nutritional findings are similar to those reported in our 2010 strawberry paper.”

Organic plants produce more antioxidants

The British Journal of Nutrition study was led by scientists at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, with Benbrook helping design the study, write the paper and review the scientific literature, particularly on studies in North and South America.

In general, the team found that organic crops have several nutritional benefits that stem from the way the crops are produced. A plant on a conventionally managed field will typically have access to high levels of synthetic nitrogen and will marshal the extra resources into producing sugars and starches. As a result, the harvested portion of the plant will often contain lower concentrations of other nutrients, including health-promoting antioxidants.

Without the synthetic chemical pesticides applied on conventional crops, organic plants tend to produce more phenols and polyphenols to defend against pest attacks and related injuries. In people, phenols and polyphenols can help prevent diseases triggered or promoted by oxidative damage, like coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.

Overall, organic crops had 18 to 69 percent higher concentrations of antioxidant compounds. The team concludes that consumers who switch to organic fruit, vegetables and cereals would get 20 to 40 percent more antioxidants. That’s the equivalent of about two extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day, with no increase in caloric intake.

10 to 100 times fewer pesticide residues

The researchers also found pesticide residues were three to four times more likely in conventional foods than organic ones, as organic farmers are not allowed to apply toxic, synthetic pesticides. While crops harvested from organically managed fields sometimes contain pesticide residues, the levels are usually 10-fold to 100-fold lower in organic food, compared to the corresponding, conventionally grown food.

“This study is telling a powerful story of how organic plant-based foods are nutritionally superior and deliver bona fide health benefits,” said Benbrook.

In a surprising finding, the team concluded that conventional crops had roughly twice as much cadmium, a toxic heavy metal contaminant, as organic crops. The leading explanation is that certain fertilizers approved for use only on conventional farms somehow make cadmium more available to plant roots. A doubling of cadmium from food could push some individuals over safe daily intake levels.

Team surveys more and better studies

More than half the studies in the Newcastle analysis were not available to the research team that carried out a 2009 study commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency. Another review published by a Stanford University team in 2011 failed to identify any significant clinical health benefits from consumption of organic food, but incorporated fewer than half the number of comparisons for most health-promoting nutrients.

“We benefited from a much larger and higher quality set of studies than our colleagues who carried out earlier reviews,” said Carlo Leifert, a Newcastle University professor and the project leader.

The Newcastle study cost about $429,000 and was funded by the European Framework Programme 6, which is a research program of the European Union, and the Sheepdrove Trust, a private charity that supports research on sustainability, diversity and organic farming.

Contact: Chuck Benbrook, research professor, Washington State University, 541-828-7918, cbenbrook@wsu.edu

GM case hearing Today: Read how PMO is trying to push

A 2-judge Bench in the Supreme Court has been listening to arguments in the GMOs PIL since yesterday, on field trials, on the TEC (Technical Expert Committee) recommendations. Today’s hearing is crucial.The Government and proponents have been pushing GMOs giving arguments like:

– they are needed for the country’s food security (THE FORMER MOEF HERSELF HAS WRITTEN A STRONG LETTER TO THE PM CONTESTING THE FOOD SECURITY ARGUMENTS – text of this letter attached);

– the nation’s scientists will feel demoralised if we ban GM since we have made so much investments so far (LET THE FARMERS WHO ARE DEMORALISED AND ARE COMMITTING SUICIDES WITH THE RISKINESS OF BT COTTON BE DAMNED??),

– that nothing adverse has happened in our regulation since 2007 from the time SC gave a go-ahead for field trials (ignoring that the Ministry of Agriculture’s own Sopory Committee report pointed out that contamination has happened between Bikaneri Bt cotton and Monsanto’s Bt cotton inside an agriculture university – http://www.icar.org.in/en/node/5511; ignoring evidence brought out of violations in field trials in Jharkhand and other places; I ATTACH HERE SIX SOLID INSTANCES WHEN OUR REGULATORS HAVE FAILED GROSSLY; THE FACT THAT THERE IS SO MUCH ILLEGAL HERBICIDE TOLERANT COTTON ALL AROUND US IS PROOF ENOUGH.

– that we can’t learn better regulation from countries like Norway since only 2% of their population depends on agriculture – AS THOUGH LEARNING FROM THE USA IS OK, WHERE LESS THAN 2% OF POPULATION DEPENDS ON AGRICULTURE!!!;

– that Dr Paroda is very good with his views, ignoring how this man’s organisation receives funding from Mahyco and others;  and ignoring that the point in question is biosafety and five other independent, “un-conflicted” experts in the field of biosafety are having a unanimous view on what should be done now when they have in their majority TEC report etc).

NOW, CHECK OUT THE ATTACHED, WHICH NITIN SETHI OF BUSINESS STANDARD PUT OUT LATE LAST NIGHT IN A TWEET. THIS IS AN INTERNAL MOEF DOCUMENT WHERE JAYANTHI NATARAJAN AND HER MINISTRY ARE STRONGLY OBJECTING TO THE OTHER ARMS OF THE GOVERNMENT PUSHING PARTICULAR VIEWS ON GM AND PASSING IT OFF AS THE GOVERNMENT’S VIEWS. They are very clearly saying that these are not their views. And we know what happened to Jayanthi Natarajan ten days after these views were penned down.  (Read MOEF letter to PMO)

“Despite my insistence that MoEF should file a separate affidavit……The elaborate comments on both reports – the 5 member TEC and Dr Paroda’s dissent note and the views of Government of INdia contained from pages 6 to page 33, are not reflective of my views or that of MoEF. These are the views of MoA. It is not known on what basis these views have been taken and whether the views of environmental scientists have been recorded with agricultural scientists. These submissions require modification and may perhaps be deleted due to time constraint in sorting out the differences”, Jayanthi Natarajan says, amongst other things. While the final affidavit may or may not be the same as the draft that she is referring to, some of us who got to see the final affidavit of the UoI submitted in the Court can see what she is objecting to.  (JN-ltr-to-PM)

The GM issue has JN-ltr-to-PM always been bewildering in terms of the pressure that comes from the top-most post, the Prime Minister, ignoring all evidence that is pointing to caution. That it is a dangerous, costly distraction from real answers elsewhere. That we should just take those to our farmers.

Who is he trying to please (coalition partners, industry, America….)? On What basis does he have such views in favour of GM that they will not first sort out fundamental issues that are being raised by various credible agencies??

We wait to hear what the Bench has to say, with fingers crossed.

Courtesy: Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture

CSA complaint on Illegal spread of Herbicide Tolerant cotton

Dr. G. V. Ramanjaneyulu

Executive Director

To                                                                                                                                           Hyderabad

The Commissioner Agriculture                                                                                   8th November, 2013

Department of Agriculture

Government of Andhra Pradesh

 

Dear Sir

Sub: Illegal sales of Herbicide Tolerant Cotton in Srikakulam Dist –reg

Greetings from Centre for Sustainable Agriculture!

CSA is actively working across the state in promoting sustainable agriculture.

During one of our field visits to srikakulam district, we came across cultivation of herbicide tolerant cotton in tribal belts of seethampet mandal of srikakulam dist. Seeds were sold by a person named Nagireddy from Guntur and the brand name of the seed is KALPAVRIKSHA.  The cover has no address and name of the supplier (empty packet attached).

In and around Kotturu, near about 200 + acres is under this cotton. In Kotturu itself, one farmer by name Siridi Bhaskar Rao who has 50+ acres under this variety this year. Other villages include Bukkuduguda, Puliputti village 4 farmers growing 9 acres, Dantalaguda village 6 farmers 14 acres, Vempaliguda village  6 farmers 14 acres, Mukundapuram village 2 farmers 7 acres and Rekulaguda village  2 farmers 7 acres.  The strip tests we have done confirmed that the cotton hybrid grown here is resistant to glyphosate.

We had video recorded interviews with the farmers (DVD attached). The samples are tested positive for Glyphosate resistant event (Roundup Ready) developed by Monsanto.

http://krishi.tv/292-illegal-spread-roundup-ready-cotton-srikakulam-dist

This event is not yet approved by GEAC for commercial cultivation and biosafety tests are not completed.

There are serious health concerns with the herbicide tolerant cotton and the glyphosate which is used. The spread of such unapproved, untested and highly dangerous seeds to farmers in the tribal farmers has to be immediately curbed and action has to be initiated on the concerned officials who failed in regulation and the company which is responsible for the spread.

This is not first time such illegal cultivation of herbicide tolerant crops is noticed. In 2008, the then Commissioner Agriculture of Government of Andhra Pradesh made a complaint to GEAC that around 20,000 acres of Herbicide tolerant cotton is under cultivation.  GEAC has discussed this issue in 98th meeting in December 2009, Agenda Item 6.4 was on complaints about sale of illegal HT cotton seed. It was clearly acknowledged that illegal HT cotton, tested in laboratories with the samples testing positive for the HT trait (MON1445 event), was being supplied and grown in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh government reported suspension of seed license to one company and destruction of HT cotton crop and that more reports are awaited from some more districts, the decision was to “direct state governments to initiate punitive action against erring companies, and that follow up with respective state governments to curb the illegal cultivation of HT cotton should continue on a regular basis”. However, the presence of HT cotton in Srikakulam district showcases once again the incapable and apathetic regulatory system that refuses to take any effective action.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on GM crops and the Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court both recommended that the Herbicide Tolerant crops are not suitable for the country and also that the field trials should be stopped for atleast ten years till the regulations are improved.

The source of such illegal seeds seems to be the company which have developed them. The company has to take responsibility as they were only given permission for laboratory research and confined field trials. Escape of any form from these should be primarily be the responsibility of the company.

On 29th October, during a meeting at the commissioner office, we brought up this issue with you and showed the video of interviews with farmers and when we visited the field again on 3rd November, we found that no action has been initiated and even the concerned officials have not even visited the field.

In this context we request you to kindly

  1. Investigate to assess the extent of illegal, unapproved HT cotton cultivation in this area and all of Andhra Pradesh
  2. Fix liability on the offenders who are responsible for such spread as per the EPA rules, 1986. The state Governments should also fix liability under seed laws for unlicensed seed trade. Government of India should fix responsibility on regulators for failing to curb this illegal proliferation of unapproved GMOs.
  3. Write to GEAC to action on the company which is responsible for the leakage of the material from their research labs and confined field trials

We also bring to your kind notice that such illegal cultivation of several GM crops is happening across the state.  The companies which are permitted field trials are not taking responsibility when the trials are contaminating the neighboring crops or seeds escape and find their way into commercial market illegally.

Therefore we request the AP state government to kindly stop all permissions for the GM field trials without Biosafety approvals.

Looking forward for your immediate action

(Ramanjaneyulu)

09000699702

seed packet front side

Seed packets without any details

seed packet backside

strip test

Strip test confirming presence of Roundup Ready event

herbicide-tolerant-crops-briefing-paper

Residential Proximity to Methyl Bromide Use and Birth Outcomes in an Agricultural Population in California

Background: Methyl bromide, a fungicide often used in strawberry cultivation, is of concern for residents who live near agricultural applications because of its toxicity and potential for drift. Little is known about the effects of methyl bromide exposure during pregnancy.

Objective: We investigated the relationship between residential proximity to methyl bromide use and birth outcomes.

Methods: Participants were from the CHAMACOS (Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas) study (n = 442), a longitudinal cohort study examining the health effects of environmental exposures on pregnant women and their children in an agricultural community in northern California. Using data from the California Pesticide Use Reporting system, we employed a geographic information system to estimate the amount of methyl bromide applied within 5 km of a woman’s residence during pregnancy. Multiple linear regression models were used to estimate associations between trimester-specific proximity to use and birth weight, length, head circumference, and gestational age.

Results: High methyl bromide use (vs. no use) within 5 km of the home during the second trimester was negatively associated with birth weight (β = –113.1 g; CI: –218.1, –8.1), birth length (β = –0.85 cm; CI: –1.44, –0.27), and head circumference (β = –0.33 cm; CI: –0.67, 0.01). These outcomes were also associated with moderate methyl bromide use during the second trimester. Negative associations with fetal growth parameters were stronger when larger (5 km and 8 km) versus smaller (1 km and 3 km) buffer zones were used to estimate exposure.

Conclusions: Residential proximity to methyl bromide use during the second trimester was associated with markers of restricted fetal growth in our study.

Key words: birth outcomes, birth weight, fumigants, methyl bromide, pesticides, residential proximity