దిగుబడులకు బీటీ దెబ్బ: జి.వి. రామాంజనేయులు

http://www.andhrajyothy.com/EditorialShow.asp?qry=2012/aug/26/edit/26edit3&more=2012/aug/26/edit/editpagemain1&date=8/26/2012

ముఖాముఖి

జన్యుమార్పిడి పంటలపై మరిన్ని పరిశోధనలు, సరైన నియంత్రణ వ్యవస్థ లేకుండా ఫీల్డ్ ట్రయల్స్‌కు అనుమతించకూడదని పార్లమెంటరీ స్థాయీ సంఘం చేసిన సిఫార్సులపై దేశవ్యాప్తంగా చర్చ జరుగుతోంది. ఈ నేపథ్యంలో జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటలకు సంబంధించిన అంశాలపై పరిశ్రమవర్గాలు చెబుతున్న దానికి, పరిశోధనలలో తేలుతున్న నిజాలకు మధ్య చాలా వ్యత్యాసం కనిపిస్తుంది. ఈ నేపథ్యంలో జన్యుమార్పిడి పంటలకు సంబంధించిన వాస్తవాలు, భ్రమలపై అధ్యయనం చేస్తున్న ‘సెంటర్ ఫర్ సస్టేయనబుల్ అగ్రికల్చరల్’ సంస్థ ఎగ్జిక్యూటివ్ డైరక్టర్ జి.వి. రామాంజనేయులుతో ఈ వారం ముఖాముఖి..

బీటీ విత్తనాల వల్ల అనేక ప్రయోజనాలు ఉన్నాయని కంపెనీలు ప్రచారం చేస్తున్నాయి. కాని పరిశోధనలలో తేలుతున్న నిజాలు వేరే విధంగా ఉంటున్నాయి..?
బీటీ విత్తనాలు కరువు పరిస్థితులను కూడా తట్టుకొని నిలబడతాయని.. దిగుబడి ఎక్కువ వస్తుందని.. ఈ పంటలకు కలుపు మందులు వేయాల్సిన అవసరం లేదని.. పురుగులు ఎక్కువ రావనే ప్రచారం జరుగుతోంది. కాని ఈ ప్రచారం నిజం కాదు. బీటీ విత్తనాల వల్ల దిగుబడి బాగా పెరిగిందనేది పూర్తి అవాస్తవం. ఉదాహరణకు బీటీ పత్తిని తీసుకుందాం.

2001 నుంచి 2005 దాకా మన దేశంలో పత్తి దిగుబడి 78 శాతం పెరిగింది. దీనిలో కేవలం ఆరు శాతం విస్తీర్ణంలో మాత్రమే బీటీ విత్తనాలను వేశారు. ఇదే విధంగా 2006-11 సంవత్సరాల మధ్య చూస్తే- మొత్తం విస్తీర్ణం 80 శాతం పెరిగితే- దానిలో దిగుబడి రెండు శాతం పెరిగింది. ఈ రెండింటి «ఆధారంగా చూస్తే దిగుబడి పెరగటానికి బీటీ విత్తనాలు మాత్రమే కారణం కాదని అర్థమవుతుంది. అదనంగా సాగు కిందకు వచ్చిన భూమి పెరగటం మొదలైన ఇతర కారణాలు చాలా ఉన్నాయి.

వాస్తవానికి ప్రపంచవ్యాప్తంగా బీటీ విత్తనాలు వేసిన ప్రాంతాల్లో దిగుబడులు తగ్గిపోతున్నాయి. ఇక బీటీ విత్తనాలు పురుగులను తట్టుకుంటాయని చేస్తున్న వాదనలో కూడా నిజం లేదు. పురుగులు బీటీ విత్తనాలను తట్టుకొనే శక్తిని పెంచుకున్నాయి. మన ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్ ఉదాహరణనే తీసుకుంటే- గులాబీ రంగు తొలిచే పురుగును బీటీ పత్తి విత్తనాలు తట్టుకోలేకపోతున్నాయని మోన్‌శాంటోనే ప్రకటించింది. ఇదే విధంగా బీటీ విత్తనాలు కాయి తొలిచే పురుగులను కూడా తట్టుకోలేకపోతున్నాయి.

బీటీ పత్తికి సంబంధించి కంపెనీలు గుజరాత్‌ను ఒక రోల్ మోడల్‌గా ప్రచారం చేస్తూ ఉంటాయి. గుజరాత్‌లో నిజంగానే బీటీ పత్తి విజయం సాధించిందా?
గుజరాత్ ప్రభుత్వ నివేదికల ఆధారం చూస్తే పత్తి సాగు చేసే ప్రాంతం దాదాపు 45 శాతం పెరిగింది. అదనంగా సాగులోకి వచ్చిన ప్రాంతం 43 శాతం పెరిగింది. వీటికి తోడుగా హైబ్రీడ్ పత్తి వేసిన ప్రాంతం కూడా పెరిగింది. ఈ కారణాల వల్ల గుజరాత్‌లో దిగుబడి పెరిగింది తప్ప- బీటీ విత్తనాల వల్ల మాత్రమే కాదు. ఇక్కడ మనం ఒక విషయాన్ని తప్పకుండా చెప్పుకోవాలి. చాలా సార్లు జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటల వల్ల కలిగే ప్రయోజనాలను ప్రచారం చేసేవారు- తమ వద్ద ఉన్న సమాచారాన్ని పూర్తిగా అందించరు. తమకు అనుకూలంగా కనిపించే కొంత సమాచారాన్ని ఇస్తారు. దీనిని చూస్తే- అంతా సజావుగా ఉన్నట్లు అనిపిస్తుంది. కాని ఇది నిజం కాదు.

బీటీ వంకాయ ఫీల్డ్ ట్రయల్స్‌కు సంబంధించి పెద్ద వివాదం నడుస్తోంది కదా. దీని వెనకున్న కథ ఏమిటి?
బీటీ వంకాయ విత్తనాల వల్ల కలిగే దుష్ఫరిమాణాలను జాగ్రత్తగా అధ్యయనం చేయకుండా అనుమతించవద్దని ప్రభుత్వం ఏర్పాటు చేసిన నిపుణుల కమిటీ సిఫార్సు చేసింది. ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్‌తో సహా పది రాష్ట్రాలు బీటీ వంకాయ ఫీల్డ్ ట్రయల్స్‌ను అనుమతించబోమని ప్రకటించాయి. అయితే మనం ఇక్కడ ఒక విషయాన్ని గమనించాలి. జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటల వల్ల వచ్చే లాభనష్టాలను సమీక్షించటానికి మన దగ్గర సరైన నియంత్రణా వ్యవస్థ లేదు. ఉదాహరణకు బీటీ పత్తినే తీసుకుందాం. దీని లాభనష్టాలను 2005లో చివరి సారి సమీక్షించారు. ఆ తర్వాత ఎప్పుడూ మళ్లీ సమీక్ష జరగలేదు.

బీటీ పత్తి వల్ల అనేక దుష్ఫరిణామాలు ఏర్పడుతున్నాయని ఈ లోపులో అనేక పరిశోధనలు వచ్చాయి. ఉదాహరణకు వరంగల్ జిల్లాలో బీటీ పత్తి ఆకులు తిని పశువులు మరణించాయని కొన్ని పరిశోధనలు చెబుతున్నాయి. ఇలాంటి వాటిని ప్రభుత్వం వెంటనే పరిగణనలోకి తీసుకోవాలి. చాలా సార్లు ప్రభుత్వం ఈ చర్యలు తీసుకోదు. పైగా జన్యుమార్పిడి పంటలపై పరిశోధనలకు పెద్ద ఎత్తున నిధులను కేటాయించి, తామే పరిశోధనలు చేస్తామని ప్రకటిస్తోంది కూడా. ఈ మొత్తం వ్యవహారం వెనక పెద్ద పెద్ద కంపెనీల లాబీయింగ్ కూడా ఉంటుంది.

మన కన్నా ముందే కొన్ని దేశాలలో జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటల పరిజ్ఞానం ప్రవేశించింది కదా. వారి అనుభవాలేమిటి?
ప్రపంచంలో పన్నెండు దేశాల్లో మాత్రమే జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటలను వేస్తున్నారు. వారి అనుభవాలు కూడా అంత సంతృప్తికరంగా లేవు. అమెరికాలో తాజాగా చేసిన పరిశోధనలలో- ఈ పంటల వల్ల దిగుబడి బాగా తగ్గుతోందని తేలింది. అంతే కాకుండా ఈ పంటలను తట్టుకొనే చీడ పురుగులు తయారయ్యాయి. వీటిని సూపర్ వీడ్స్ అని పిలుస్తున్నారు.

దీనికి తోడు పేటెంట్స్ పేరిట మొత్తం విత్తన మార్కెట్ అంతా కొన్ని కంపెనీల చేతిలోకి వెళ్లిపోతుంది. ఈ ప్రక్రియ మన దేశంలో కూడా ప్రారంభమయింది. ఉదాహరణకు మన దేశంలో బీటీ పత్తి విత్తన మార్కెట్‌లో 98 శాతం మాన్‌శాంటో చేతిలోనే ఉంది. ఇక్కడ ఇంకో ఆశ్చర్యం కలిగించే విషయాన్ని చెబుతాను. బీటీ విత్తనాలకు సంబంధించిన అంశాలలో కంపెనీని ప్రభుత్వం నియంత్రించాలి. కాని పరిస్థితి ఆ విధంగా లేదు. చాలా సార్లు కంపెనీయే ప్రభుత్వంపై కేసులు పెట్టింది.

ఈ పరిస్థితిని చక్కదిద్దటానికి ఉన్న మార్గాలేమిటి?
ప్రత్యామ్నాయ వ్యవసాయ పద్ధతులపై ప్రభుత్వం శ్రద్ధ చూపించాలి. పరిశోధనలకు నిధులను కేటాయించాలి. పరిశోధనాశాలలకు అవసరమైన మౌలిక వసతులు కల్పించాలి. వీటిన్నింటితో పాటుగా నియంత్రణ వ్యవస్థను కట్టుదిట్టం చేయాలి. ఈ విత్తనాలకు సంబంధించిన అంశాలలో కొందరిని బాధ్యులను చేయాలి. ప్రస్తుతం ఈ పద్ధతి లేకపోవటం వల్ల ఇటు ప్రభుత్వం కాని, ఈ విత్తనాలను అనుమతించిన రెగ్యులేటర్ కాని, తయారు చేసిన కంపెనీ కాని బాధ్యత తీసుకోవటం లేదు. దీని వల్ల సామాన్య రైతులు నష్టపోతున్నారు.
– ఇంటర్వ్యూ : సి.వి.ఎల్.ఎన్. ప్రసాద్

Parliamentary panel seeks probe into Bt Brinjal

Last Updated: Thursday, August 09, 2012, 23:56

Parliamentary panel seeks probe into Bt BrinjalNew Delhi: A parliamentary panel Thursday recommended a probe into the issue of Bt Brinjal, saying that adequate tests had not been carried out and the approval committee was under “tremendous pressure” from the “industry and a minister” to approve it.

Basudeb Acharia, who heads the parliamentary standing committee on agriculture, said: “The issue needs to be probed as the co-chairman of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) Arjula Reddy was under tremendous pressure as he was getting calls from the industry, GEAC and a minister to approve Bt Brinjal.”

He said the probe should cover the period right from the beginning to the imposing of a moratorium on Bt Brinjal’s commercialisation by the government in February 2010.

“We are convinced that these developments are not merely slippages due to oversight or human error but indicative of collusion of a worst kind,” Acharia told reporters.

A moratorium was imposed on Bt Brinjal by then environment minister Jairam Ramesh in February 2010 following protests by NGOs and environmentalists. Bt Brinjal was being pushed in India by the US multinational Monsanto.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had criticised the move by Ramesh, saying in the long run Bt Brinjal will only prove to be an advantage for India.

Without naming the minister concerned, Acharia said the parliamentary committee has been highly disconcerted to know about the confession of the co-chairman of the GEAC.

According to him, genetically modified crops should not be pursued in India as most of the farmers are small and marginal ones and their interest has to be protected.

Acharia also suggested that an agency, other than GEAC, should examine research reports on Bt Brinjal.

The parliamentary panel chief sought to counter the pro-GM crop lobbies in the country by saying that the targets to meet the concerns over food security could be easily met without the GM technology and organic farming should be pursued to achieve these goals.

He also said that the issue of GM crops should be debated in parliament as there was a link between Bt Cotton and farmers’ suicides.

“Lakhs of tonnes of oil extracted from Bt Cotton seeds has entered the food chain in the past decade… we have asked the consumer affairs ministry for its views,” said Acharia.

The panel also highlighted the need to label GM products.

International NGO Greenpeace welcomed the report and said it has come at a time when the union government is trying hard to introduce a new regulatory system for GM crops “by the name of Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill”.

“The report exposes the serious gaps in our country’s GM regulatory system and the lopsided GM technology promotion policies of the government,” said Neha Saigal, sustainable agriculture campaigner, Greenpeace India.

The politics of food for the hungry

ARUNA ROY & NEHA SAIGAL

The 28th of May, marked as “World Hunger Day,” has come and gone but for Pannu Bai Bhil, every day is hunger day. How does someone dealing with chronic hunger view a day marking her plight? Let those of us who overeat at least take stock of a hungry India pitted against bumper crops, number crunching, technologies for profit, markets, and growth rates. The solution for hunger lies in proper distribution of grain, and not in bringing technology as the Prime Minster avers when talking of GM crops. If this government cannot prevent the huge stocks from rotting by distributing food grain adequately and equitably, other questions remain mere rhetoric.

Whenever issues of deprivation, hunger and social security are raised, the government deliberately talks of the declining Sensex, the rupee exchange, growth rates, and balanced budgets. Most innocent readers and viewers of news blame the demands of the marginalised for pulling down a rising India. Nationalist India will have to make a choice. Can we shift from fighting the ‘foreign hand’ to fight the biggest enemy within — the hunger of millions? India has not addressed the unpardonable sin of letting bumper crops and huge dumps of grain rot, when millions of Indians battle with endemic hunger and lack of access to food.

Since it is a global event, a quick overview of international standards would be useful. The World Food Summit (1996) defined food security as “access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” The Global Hunger Index released by the International Food Policy Research Institute ranks India 66th among 88 vulnerable countries. Ironically farmers are amongst the millions who go hungry. A principal reason is that the economy has neglected agriculture, continuously discriminated against and exploited to subsidise the manufacturing and service sectors.

How to lie with statistics : The first method to downplay the issue is to crunch numbers, and reduce the statistics of hungry people. There are many contradictory reports and studies commissioned by the government. Conclusive figures vary. For example, according to the Planning Commission’s contentious Tendulkar Committee Report, calorie consumption is calculated at 1776 calories per person per day for urban areas, 1999 for rural areas. This is much below the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) norms for the average person in India which is 2400 calories in rural areas and 2100 calories in urban areas. Having already restricted the supply of subsidised food grains to BPL families, the government brought down the BPL figures from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 29.8 per cent in 2009-10. In one stroke, the government absolved itself of the responsibility of providing affordable food grain to those who, by medical standards, needed them. Yet while releasing the ‘Hungama’ report (2012), the Prime Minister was shocked to find 42 per cent of children malnourished, calling it a “national shame”.

The technology fix : “The country cannot feed its hungry millions, unless there is high tech Corporate agriculture!” According to the figures of the Ministry of Agriculture, in the last three years of 2009-10, 2010-2011 and 2011-12 food grain production broke records. The country produced approximately 240 million tonnes of cereals and 17 million tonnes of pulses last year. If this is procured and distributed efficiently, it should be enough to provide the stipulated calories for the entire population of the country. Instead, there is poor procurement, and potential wastage of millions of tonnes of food grain that will rot in railway yards, mandies , FCI godowns across the country. The population that will and has benefited most from this stark inability to deal with distribution are rats! Exporting food now, far from being a solution, will only aggravate hunger further.

Technology or political will : Facts and figures proclaim surplus despite accusations that the agriculture sector pulls down growth. But, the government has been making hunger and low production the reason to push a series of techno-fix solutions. It is part of a mindset that sees the solution in Northern style Agro-Business Corporations. The balance sheet of a technological solution can now be better measured in the cradles of the Green revolution — Punjab and Haryana — where the costs to the land and water table, and dependent relationship on the financiers and agro companies were never factored in. This model, propagated across the country, spelt rapid depletion of the natural capital for farming — soil, water and biodiversity. It also resulted in indebted farmers. It is inexplicable that a set of market economy policymakers, with a commitment to cost benefit analysis, should ignore depletion of basic capital — land that produces, and the (in)security of farmers in the market. There is also the wider national impact of these agrochemicals on health.

The latest addition to this treadmill of technologies being sold to farmers is Genetically Modified (GM) crops. It represents a paradigm shift in agriculture, with the potential to affect the consumers (food safety) and farmers (livelihood) security.

GM crops are controversial all over the world. Questions have been repeatedly raised against this technology being introduced in food and farming. When Bt Brinjal was introduced, it was the first GM food crop proposed for commercial cultivation. There was public opposition from all sections of society, including the fact that the bio-safety assessment on Bt Brinjal was not satisfactory. Jairam Ramesh, then Union Minister for Environment and Forests, concluded a series of public consultations on this contested policy, with a decision to enforce an indefinite moratorium on the proposal.

Alarm bells

In fact, the assessment of Bt cotton, the only commercially approved GM crop in the country, should ring alarm bells for policymakers obsessed with the idea of increased food production through GM technology. While the area under Bt cotton cultivation has certainly gone up over the last decade, data analysis shows productivity has not significantly increased, nor has pesticide use markedly decreased. In fact, cotton productivity has been on the decline in the last five years — a period when Bt cotton covered the majority of the cotton cultivated area in the country. Far from being a technological solution to rural poverty, Bt cotton has only increased the distress of those dependent on farming, and acutely so in the semi-arid cotton belt. Costs have increased due to the appearance of new pests and others developing Bt resistance, higher water and fertilizer requirements, and no major benefit in the output. The main beneficiaries of this transfer to Bt Cotton seem to be multinational seed companies like Monsanto which have profited through patents and royalty.

Attempts to flood agriculture with GM crops — around 71 at different stages of development in the pipeline — in fact pose a threat to long-term food security. The government seems unconcerned that this technology will further shift the control of agriculture to seed companies and corporate intermediaries. There is a growing body of science that points to the risk that GM food might pose to human health and environment. What insures us against the potential disaster to life and environment when side-effects emerge a few decades later?

While hasty techno-fixes to deal with the crisis in the farming community are afoot, malnutrition and genuine problems in the agricultural sector in the country fail to be seriously addressed. Farmers committing suicide are linked to the commercial pressures of tech dependent agriculture, along with the controls of companies, the market, and credit agencies. Increasing production is not the only solution to hunger in an unequal society. The debates around the National Food Security Bill reveal the lack of political intent to use food stocks to help remove malnutrition and address inequity. While talking of food security (a much larger right than just PDS), policymakers are reluctant to grant universal entitlements of even food grain to eradicate hunger.

India is, and will be, an agricultural economy. Communities dependent on farming have tremendously difficult jobs and very low incomes. In shifting to intensive mono cropping during the Green Revolution, farmers stopped cultivating diverse and subsistence crops, undermining their own basic food security. We need to ensure that people in agriculture lead economically secure lives. A rationally calculated Minimum Support Price is non-negotiable. Agricultural workers and farmers must have the purchasing power, for their own food security needs.

If we take “hunger day” seriously, every Indian who feeds more than twice a day, wasting food, and critiquing food entitlements, should feel contrite and join the campaign for a universal entitlement through the PDS. We should take a serious look at the politics of food, and not be taken in by potentially dangerous technological solutions like GM foods. The Indian government must move from platitudes to action. Undistributed grains must be moved immediately to people through the PDS and increased universal allocations under the proposed Right to Food Bill. Can we afford to wait for Parliament debates in the monsoon session as rains soak and rot open food stocks, and farmers struggle to find the money for inputs to sow their next crop?

(Aruna Roy is a social activist. Email: mkssrajasthan@gmail.com, arunaroy@gmail.com Neha Saigal is Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace India)

 

Policymakers talk of food security

but are reluctant to give universal

entitlements to eradicate hunger

GM and the PM

http://www.asianage.com/columnists/gm-and-pm-648

Vandana Shiva

To impose a failed technology with high social and ecological costs in the name of ‘science’ is anti-science and anti-democracy

In an interview to the journal Science (Feb. 24 edition), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose to focus on two hazardous technologies — genetically engineered seeds and crops in agriculture and nuclear power — as vital to the progress of science in India and the “salvation for finding meaningful new pathways of developing our economy”. He also talked about foreign-funded NGOs that were blocking this development.

What Dr Singh said in the interview saddened me because he seems out of touch with science as well as the people of India whose will he is supposed to represent in a democracy. To label the democratic voices of the citizens of India as “foreign” and unthinking is an insult to democracy, to the people of India and to the scientific community. The scientific community is dedicated to developing science in public interest and to understanding the safety aspects of hazardous technologies like nuclear and genetic engineering.
Dr Singh’s statements also trivialised the regulatory framework for biosafety and nuclear safety. Biotechnology and nuclear science have safety implications in the context of the environment and public health. We have national and international laws on biosafety in the context of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and nuclear safety in the context of nuclear power and Dr Singh should be legally bound by these frameworks. The debate on safety is vital to our science, our democracy and our ecological food and health security.
Dr Singh is misleading the nation by making it appear as if the voices raising caution are only of “foreign-funded NGOs”. The most significant voice on biosafety is of Dr Pushpa Bhargava, the father of molecular biology in India and Supreme Court Appointee on the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, which is the statutory body that regulates GMOs for biosafety under the 1989 Environment Protection Act. The most important voice for nuclear safety is of Dr A. Gopalakrishnan, the former chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. Dr Singh should listen to these eminent experts for developing a responsible and democratic science rather than creating the bogey of “foreign interference” and starting a witch hunt of public interest groups which are the very life and blood of a democracy.
This attack on movements engaged in safety issues of genetic engineering and nuclear power needs to be viewed in the larger context of the megabucks foreign corporations pushing GMOs and nuclear power plants are looking at in India. Dr Singh has succumbed to these pressures and has sacrificed India’s food and energy sovereignty. He signed the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement and the deal got the approval of Parliament only through the “cash for votes” scandal. Dr Singh also signed the Indo-US Agriculture Initiative which seeks to put India’s food and agriculture systems in the hands of global corporate giants like Monsanto, Cargill and Walmart, though the push for foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail was stopped by Parliament.
The recent Uttar Pradesh and other Assembly election results show that the people have rejected those policies of the UPA that focus on the interests of global corporations while trampling on the livelihood and democratic rights of the people of India.
We still haven’t recovered from the huge price we had to pay when our seed sovereignty in cotton was destroyed after the entry of Monsanto: Seed costs jumped 8,000 per cent, use of pesticides increased, as did crop failure, and that in turn increased farmers’ debt. And with debt came the epidemic of farmers’ suicides. Today, 95 per cent of our cotton seed is owned and collected by Monsanto through licensing agreements with 60 Indian seed companies.
Dr Singh talks of the “double whammy” of disease but he describes it as an “opportunity”. He fails to address the “double whammy” in the food and agriculture crisis — 250,000 farmer committed suicide and half of India’s children are malnourished. The GMOs are not a solution to this double whammy. They are aggravating and deepening the crisis of debt linked to capital intensive, non-sustainable agriculture based on seed monopoly, which destroys food systems that produce nutritious food. The solution to farmers’ suicide and children’s malnutrition is the science of agro-ecology and the development of ecologically intensive, low-cost agriculture that increases the production of nutritious food as we have shown in the Navdanya report titled, “Health Per Acre”.
Navdanya’s report “The GMO emperor has no clothes” provides empirical evidence about the performance of GMOs in farmers’ fields. The GMOs have failed to increase yields or reduce the use of pesticides. The prevalence of pests and weeds hasn’t decreased either. GMOs have, in fact, increased chemical use and led to the emergence of super pests and super weeds.
To impose a failed technology with extremely high social and ecological costs undemocratically on India in the name of “science” is anti-science and anti-democracy. It is anti-science because real science is based on the new disciplines of agro-ecology and epigenetics, not the obsolete idea of genetic determinism and genetic reductionism. The latest science in energy is renewable energy and not nuclear.
Yet, the Prime Minister, under the influence of global corporations, will stop at nothing to destroy the nation’s seed, food and energy sovereignty, as well as health and nutrition security. His attack on NGOs should be seen along with the attack on Biosafety Regulatory Framework in India. There is an attempt to dismantle the biosafety rules and replace them with the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (Brai), which would rob states of the powers they have under the Constitution and in the current biosafety laws. After all, 13 states stopped the Bt brinjal. To blame the moratorium on Bt brinjal on NGOs “funded from the US and Scandinavian countries” is to turn a blind eye to the concerns of the states. The proposed Brai will also rob citizens of their right to justice and biosafety by blocking them from approaching civil courts. The corporations will be deregulated and citizens will be policed.
Dr Singh’s attack on NGOs is part of this larger attack on democracy and people’s rights, to undemocratically promote global corporations in the vital sectors of food and energy.
The debate on genetic engineering and nuclear power is a test case of the intense conflict between corporate rule and democracy, between corporate science pushing hazards and public science calling for safety. It is a contest between science and democracy on one hand and propaganda and dictatorship on the other.

The writer is the executive director of the Navdanya Trust

India and Foreign Hand

 Indian toiling people like the peasants, workers, Adivasis and dalits have suffered the cruellest aspects of the foreign hand. The deceit, sadism and the helplessness of a colonized people cannot be worse when the British imperialists under the premiership of Winston Churchill diverted grain for British war abroad, resulting in the Great Bengal Famine where millions of people died of starvation. “We got a taste of foreign hand”. Hence, we really cannot forget the foreign hand and so we are still struggling to fight that foreign hand. Broad masses of the working people and other artisans cannot forget the fact now that their indigenous textile industries and other crafts were destroyed.

The Adivasis are offering stiff resistance to the present foreign hands like Wall Street, hot money flowing via POSCO, Vedanta, Areva, etc., and their local agents like Manmohan Singh who have thrown open their resources, forests, livelihood and habitats cheaply for rapacious national and multinational corporations. It is the continuation of a glorious tradition of Adivasis’ rebellions led by Birsa Munda, Sidhu Kano, in the Santhal Parganas, and Chhitu Kirad in the Bhil region of western MP and eastern Gujarat. From Rajmahal Hills in the east to Khandesh in the west, the heroic Adivasi uprisings fought against the then foreign hand – the marauding British imperial invaders, who were out to usurp their land, livelihood and territories. They brutally colonized northeast; even in the post-independent era the Indian state betrayed the democratic aspiration of the people of northeast and resorted to the worst kind of neo-colonial plunder, brutally suppressing the peoples’ aspirations for a dignified life with barbaric state repression under draconian laws like AFPSA. The Adivasis had the bitter taste of foreign hand when their forests were snatched away by the British imperialists. Under the Indian Forest Act, they were declared intruders in their own habitat. There was massive deforestation for the sleepers for British Railways to plunder the natural resources of India, most of which is in Adivasi regions. Even after the transfer of power in 1947, the neo-colonial extractive plunder continues for cheap natural resources for world imperialism and their junior partners in the third world.

In India, the contemporary symbol of Uncle Sam’s hand is Manmohan Singh; like the earlier foreign hand, the British imperialists, the present dispensation is continuing with extreme repressive measures like Operation Green Hunt.

The post-war era was also the defining moment of national liberation struggle and decolonization. After the victory of the Chinese revolution and the emergence of an assertive socialist bloc, Sputnik was sent to space and Valentina Tereshkova created hopes in working women that socialism provides the necessary base for every working woman to develop her potential. Socialism was in the air, it was hope of the oppressed masses. The idea of socialism reinvigorated the trajectory of history towards national liberation, equality and dignity. World imperialism, now led by the USA, faced its nemesis socialism. Socialism was the guiding compass for the struggle for justice, democracy and equity. The European bourgeoisie took recourse to social democracy and welfare state to legitimize itself and fend off challenges posed by the socialist camp and militant trade union movement in their own countries trying to co-opt its own working classes.

Therefore, one has to deconstruct the project of decolonization in the third world countries in the context of growing attraction of the idea of socialism and the need for legitimacy of the third world ruling classes. Foreign hand again played a significant role in the lives of the oppressed masses in the third world in the so-called post-colonial world. Post-colonialism is the biggest myth because of the neo-colonial exploitation of the people and natural resources of the third world.

Absolutely intellectual slaves of imperialism and the compradors of the third world helped to perpetuate this neo-colonial exploitation. For the past two decades, Manmohan Singh has been the most crucial foreign hand in India for ruthlessly implementing the policies of neo-colonial exploitation in India. The so-called project of “Decolonization” proved to be fraudulent. Imperialism changed it from colonial exploitation to neo-colonial exploitation where the broad masses of people of the third world have entered into a direct contradiction with world imperialism.

The Bretton Woods Institutions like World Bank, and IMF of late WTO, were used as instruments of neo-colonial exploitation of the third world. In the post-war period, the cruelty of the foreign hand did not stop despite the rhetoric of “Decolonization” and “Non-Alignment”. It became more ruthless, cruel, barbaric and genocidal in the post-war period, under the leadership of the super imperial state – United States of America. The imperial horror continued. Vietnam was carpet-bombed, people sprayed up poisonous chemicals, Korea was invaded, Allende and Patrice Lumumba were murdered, hundreds of plots were made to assassinate Fidel Castro, and the great revolutionary Che Guevara was murdered. Tin-pot dictators imposed on Latin America to further enlarge the open veins of neo-colonial exploitation of its natural resources and sucking the blood of its working people. Compradors were installed in the name of regime change and so-called democracy (truly meaning exploitative bourgeois democracy and class rule). The predatory rule of the imperialist camp was managed by the local elites for their western masters as Manmohan Singh is doing now. The foreign hand was its most repulsive and sadistic impact in the recent decades.

Iraq and Afghanistan were mercilessly invaded by US-led NATO troops. Millions were killed, while the ordeal of Palestine continues under Zionist Imperialist designs. Another anti-people predatory weapon of the foreign hand has also used the anti-democratic arbitrary instrument of economic sanctions. It tried to strangle Cuba through sanctions; for appeasing the Zionist lobby, the criminal cowboy has used it against Iran recently. But the most savage, cruel and sadistic exploitative use of this monster US foreign hand was the sanction against Iraq to capture Iraq’s oil and the US imposed sanction has murdered 5 million Iraqi children much before its fascist attack on Iraq in 2003, overriding the democratic protests of the entire globe. The invasion on Iraq was most barbaric, ostensibly in the name of democracy and the non-existent weapons of mass destruction camouflaged to capture Iraq’s oil and to bring it under US imperial hegemony. Left thinker Ravi Sinha explains the attack on Iraq in the following words:

“We are all witness to and victims of the times characterized by monstrous brutalities of war and deep scars of deprivations, inequities and oppressions. We live under a world order wherein those who brought, for example, untold tragedy and destruction of Iraq, will never be brought to justice because they are global hegemons. They will not be questioned about the hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqi men, women and children; they will not be questioned about the thousands of dead and decapitated American soldiers; they will not be questioned about the trillions of dollars spent on the war and further trillions destroyed by the war; and they will not be questioned about the kind of Iraq they are leaving behind.”

Further, Ravi Sinha says about our immediate neighbourhood:

“We on the sub-continent, too, have suffered grievously and felt the heat form far too close. Afghanistan is a continuing saga of tragedy; Pakistan has been made to pay too heavy a price; and India too has not managed to steer clear of catastrophe. And we know very well that when we count the countries that have suffered, the loss is borne invariably by the people and not by their rulers. [See Ravi Sinha’s ‘Three Formidable Barriers to the Advance of Democracy’ keynote address at the joint convention of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) at Allahabad from 29 to 31 December 2011].

Well, this is the foreign hand “US imperialism”. This is the story of real foreign hand, Uncle Sam’s monstrous brutalities. The obscene saga of Yankee Imperialism. The recent global economic crisis in 2008 was created by the favourite nieces and nephews of Uncle Sam, the greedy Wall Street operators of finance capital supported by the super imperial US state, or the emperor of the modern empire. Therefore, it is necessary to expose the economic basis of US imperial power. Explaining the economic basis of imperial power, James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer write: “Imperialism has taken diverse forms over time: ‘pre-modern’, ‘modern’, or ‘post-modern’ – to use the language of Robert Cooper, advisor to Tony Blair – or, in more analytically useful terms, pre-capitalist or capitalist. Lenin, one of the major 20th century theorists of capitalist development and socialism, defined imperialism as the most advanced stage of capitalism, in which financial and industrial forms of capital are merged into large corporate monopolies that, through the dynamics of state power (military force, principally), engage in a process of carving up the world into markets for their capital and surplus production, converting subordinate countries into colonies and local ruling classes into satraps and clients. However, whatever the form taken by imperialism, it entails the projection of state power in its various forms (economic, political and military) – whatever it takes for some nations to dominate others – to advance their class or national interests and subordinate other countries to these interests.

The dominant actor involved in this projection of power and creating the resulting relations of domination-subordination within the current arena of global politics is the capitalist nation-state. It has evolved diverse forms: democratic or authoritarian, and (with reference to its dominant policy agenda) liberal or neo-liberal. Other agents of imperialism include the largest capitalist corporations, which, in popular imagery or the dominant political “imaginary” of academic, roam the world in search of returns on their investment or capital. However, these corporations are not footloose or free from consideration of national interest. Indeed, the economic interest advanced and protected by the nation-states that make up what can be termed the “imperial state system”, a system currently dominated by the US state.

Furthermore, it is these states, in their projections of military and political power, that create the conditions needed for the home-based multinational corporations to take advantage of and operate profitably in the world’s “emerging markets”. The US imperial state, both directly (via the departments of state and defense) and indirectly (via control over financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF), constitutes a directorate to manage the global systems. Just like the government of the country, the decision-making power concentrated in this directorate of the new world order (the world capitalist or imperialist system) is backed up by a repressive apparatus, the armed forces of the US State, whose maintenance and global operations cost US tax payers and US capital around $300 billion a year in 2003, at least $480 billion in 2004, and over $500 billion in 2005, including Iraq and Afghanistan supplementary budgets. (See “Empire with Imperialism – The Globalizing Dynamics of Neoliberal Capitalism”, James Petras and Henry Veltmayer. Aaakar Books, New Delhi.)

Foreign Hand and the Post-Colonial Developmental Trajectory of India :

Like elsewhere in the third world, the project of decolonization in India was equally fraudulent. Behind the veneer of “Nehruvian socialism”, “self-reliance”, “import substitution” and “non-alignment”, the Indian ruling classes maneuvered their path in the cold war rivalry to build what Prof. Randhir Singh calls “India specific capitalism”. True to the new Indian states commitment to the pre-independent “Bombay Plan”, the consumer goods sector was dominated by multinational corporations for which public money was spent to provide them infrastructure.

The public sector was projected as socialism, while in reality it was facilitating ruthless accumulation by imperialists and their Indian junior partners. Nehruvian socialism was extremely deceptive, American think-tanks like Ford Foundation imposed the so-called “Green Revolution” taking advantage of the humiliating PL-480 arrangements. Green Revolution opened up Indian agriculture for predatory penetration of imperialist capital. It was a big blow to the self-reliance and dignity of the Indian farmers. Hybrid seeds, pesticides (which were developed from Agent Orange used on Vietnamese) and chemical fertilizers were imposed on India to fill the coffers of the multinational corporations who control the seed and pesticide market. The entire Indian agriculture and the peasantry was mortgaged to the international agri-business, especially companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, etc. This is the foreign hand. Indian farmers still suffer the worst symptom of this –  the suicide of hundreds of thousands of farmers, unprecedented in Indian history.

Primitive Accumulation: Neo-Liberal Regime and Manmohan Singh the Contemporary Foreign Hand in India :

Due to the accumulation crisis suffered by global capitalism, world imperialism gave up Keynesian “demand management”, “welfare state” to adopt neo-liberalism. Oil price shock, falling rate of profit and stagnation led to the abandonment of the Bretton Woods arrangements, dollar was delinked from gold, and the collapse of the socialist camp led the imperialist masters to “Washington consensus”. The third world rulers were arm-twisted to adopt the new mantra “market fundamentalism”, where “liberalization”, “privatization” and “globalization” became the buzzword. Pauperisation, dispossession and commodification were the order of the day. Public sector, built on the sweat and toil of the working class, was sold to private players at throw-away prices. The imperialist camp, led by the US, unleashed the worst kind of primitive accumulation on the third world peasantry under the neo-liberal world economic order, forcible depeasantizationwas ruthlessly imposed on the third world peasantry to create the new reserve army of labour for predatory capital.

Following the balance of payment crisis, this World Bank employee Manmohan Singh, a slave of imperialist economic training, was imposed on India as the Finance Minster. The rest is history. World imperialism never had a faithful puppet like Manmohan Singh. This foreign hand was most useful and loyal to the imperialist masters, and institutions like IMF, World Bank and WTO dictated their policies to Manmohan Singh who sincerely implemented them. After the Narasimha Rao government, India has seen various formations like the United Front and the “India Shining” NDA rule marked by the ghastly Gujarat pogrom. Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister in 2004 entrenching neo-liberalism in India. Explaining this phase and the hegemony of the neo-liberal project, my friend Shanker writes about the hegemony of the Indian neo-liberal project, “In itself the media’s behavior may seem nothing surprising. The alienation of the English media from India’s polity, and the solipsism and blindness of the elite it speaks for are hardly anything new; indeed, if anything, 2004 was only a further exposure of what was already increasingly obvious”.

But, in a way, this was precisely the reason why it was significant, for it hence had direct implication for the role that the English media has played in the rise of Indian neo-liberalism. To discuss this role, it is first important to note that, in the absence of a political/institutional formation that has generated and detained Indian neo-liberalism as an ideology (in contrast to Thatcherism, Reaganism or other such forces), the effort to push neo-liberalism as a political project in India has taken place in a far more diffused and complex manner. The functions that such formation would play, rather than being concentrated and organized, have instead been dispersed to multiple centres of power in the Indian system.

For instance, one such function – the individual policy changes and reforms that are required has worked not through “public opinion” or the legislative system, but instead through backdoor operations primarily focused in the bureaucracy (and in cases that do require legislation, through “consensus” achieved by cross party action through neo-liberal elements without an organized formation). This was described by Rob Jenkins as a process of “reforms by stealth”.

The second such role, increasingly appropriate in a time of shifts towards accumulation by dispossession, has been played by the judiciary. This has been the elimination and dilution of, on the one hand, legal protection for labour and criminal procedure, and on the other the strengthening and widening of state, coercive powers over resources (forests and urban land being the two most striking examples).

However, the third, and in our context the most important function, has been the evolution and projection of a hegemonic ideological project for neo-liberalism in the Indian context. (See Shankar Gopalakrishnan: The UPA Moment: Shadows of a Growing Crisis for the Indian State? In: Neoliberalism, Primitive Accumulation and Politics in India.)

This loyal foreign hand Manmohan Singh’s biggest regret in his tenure in UPA-1 and UPA-2 has been the opposition of the mass movements of the urban and rural working classes, the peasantry and Adivasis to his big ticket reforms like:

(1)      Dismantling of labour laws facilitating longer working hours, contractualisation of the workforce including the right to hire and fire.

(2)      Withdrawal of food subsidies and withdrawal of PDS

(3)      Privatisation of all major public sector enterprises

(4)      Withdrawal of fertilizers and other subsidies to agriculture

(5)      Pushing FDI in retail sector

(6)      Pushing financial deregulators, banking and insurance sector reforms

(7)      Unprecedented forcible land grab and expropriation of the peasantry

(8)      Pushing the dangerous option of nuclear energy upon an unwilling population

(9)      Severe repression of the mass movements

…. the list is endless.

Like the British imperial invaders, under this foreign hand Manmohan Singh, the peasants and Adivasis are facing the brunt of most violent dispossession in this neo-liberal regime of accumulation through dispossession. Millions of hectares of land are forcibly snatched, turning them into paupers and converting them into an impoverished army of reserve to serve as cheap contract labour for the private sector.

Singur, Nandigram, Kalinganagar, Kashipur, Bhatta Parsaul, etc., speak about the horrors of the 21st century primitive accumulation in India pushed by Manmohan Singh. This loyal foreign hand not only has forced hundreds of thousands of farmers to commit suicide, but is also responsible for the extreme brutalization of the Indian is policies have produced poverty, destitution and marginalization. It is this foreign hand – the loyal slave of  World Bank, that has created Arjun Sengupta’s 77% subsisting on Rs. 20/- a day. His push to primitive accumulation has turned fertile lands into the deserts of destitution. All this is done to please his masters at the Capitol Hill and Wall Street. For this, I want to underline the role of International Finance Capital and its third world agent Manmohan Singh – the loyal foreign hand in India.

International Finance Capital, through its myriad institutions and the exercise of diplomatic pressure, has put in place most developing countries, local servitors in key decision-making positions to implement that particular set of policies which serve the interests of global finance and, to a lesser extent, of global industry. The core elements of these policies include, as is well-known by now, trade and investment openness, income deflating fiscal and monetary measures which reduce public development spending and social sector spending, privatization of public sector undertakings, an attack on labour unions, and an attack on the livelihood and assets of small producers mainly comprising peasants and artisans, in order to promote corporatization. In most developing countries, the peasantry and artisans numerically outnumber by far the class of wage paid workers.

The attack on the peasantry’s land assets and forest resources by the corporate sector – both domestic and foreign – usually aided by the ruling state power, is seen virtually everywhere in countries as diverse as India and China in Asia, and in Tanzania, Madagascar and Ethiopia in Africa. The bitter reaction which it has provoked, the resistance of the peasantry to corporate and state acquisition of its assets, is the stuff of the most significant unfolding of social and political mass mobilization to be seen today. What we see is a new phase of what Karl Marx had called “primitive accumulation of capital,” comprising the separation of small producers from their means of production. The difference between the earlier phase of primitive accumulation and the present one, however, is all-important. Earlier phases were transitional to industrialization in Europe and in the lands settled by Europeans and the new world. The present phase of primitive accumulation in developing countries is transitional not to capitalist industrialization but to the accumulation of riches at one pole of the social structure, with rising unemployment, pauperization, the proliferation of small-scale services, and increased absolute poverty at the other pole.

This conclusion of absolute immiserization is not generally accepted in the extant mainstream or even the so-called “heterodox” discussions of globalization. (See Utsa Patnaik: “Capitalism and the Production of Poverty”, Social Scientist Vol. 464-465.)

Manmohan Singh and his camp followers like Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chidambaram (with their unflinching loyalty to World Bank/IMF guidelines to cut subsidies on essential items like food grains and kerosene, despite rising food prices) have made the working people’s life hell. On the other hand, the working people have been subsidising the corporate sector. According to P. Sainath, since economic reforms led by this World Bank stooge Manmohan Singh, the Indian government has subsidised the corporate sector to the tune of Rs. 20 lakh crores, while his lackeys in the media and Planning Commission make a big hue and cry over MNREGA, proposed Food Security Act, etc.

POSCO is a test case, where this shameless comprador Manmohan Singh bends backwards to please his imperialist masters. Under pressure from the Korean President, the PMO directed the Ministry of Environment to give forest and environment clearance to the POSCO project. It is to be noted that both the Meena Gupta Committee and Saxena Committee had written in their reports about the serious violations of the Forest Rights Act and had recommended cancellation of the forest clearance. However, under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Environment was forced to give forest and environmental clearance to POSCO. These examples are numerous.

Biodiversity, GM Foods and the Foreign Hand :

India has very rich flora and fauna with several agro-climatic zones – from the Himalayas to thick rain forests of the Western Ghats and various types of traditional agricultural practices, to food grains. Manmohan Singh is the biggest robber of India’s biodiversity and our seeds. He is the cruel imperial foreign hand to wipe out our seeds, traditions and agricultural practices.

Manmohan Singh is the foreign hand that facilitates “the great gene robbery” by multinational seed companies, especially Monsanto. Manmohan Singh is the foreign hand which has pushed Bt cotton down the farmers’ throat. He is that foreign hand which like a vulture feeds on the corpses of tens of thousands of Bt cotton farmers who were forced to commit suicide. It is a cruel paradox of history when this imperialist lapdog talks about the foreign hand behind the anti-GM seed campaign. The reality is Manmohan Singh is trying to work very hard to be the best area sales manager for Monsanto.

Protesting against Manmohan Singh’s interview to Science magazine about the foreign hand behind Kudankulam anti-nuclear struggle and anti-GM food campaign, eminent people like Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Prof. Romila Thapar and 17 others say in their letter to Manmohan Singh, “There has been vide coverage of your interview with the journal ‘Science’ on 24 February 2012, concerning the opposition to nuclear power plants and GM crops in India. You choose to resurrect the old bogeyman of a ‘foreign hand’, this time pointing to external funding of NGOs to oppose Indian development, as if they are some sort of a fifth columnist operating to undermine that nation’s interest. This, we feel, is a highly inappropriate misrepresentation of facts. The misdemeanours of these NGOs, if any, may well be only minor infringements of the letter of restrictive law that enables government to harass them as is now being undertaken. In reality, what we are all fighting against is indeed a foreign hand operating at the behest of and from within your Government, supported by Indian and foreign commercial entities, to corporatize Indian agriculture and farming practices and the energy sector, without in-depth and impartial analyses which prioritise the country’s security and safety. If this is their sin, it is our too!

Your remarks, in essence, indict every signatory to this letter. Our individual and collective “unthinking state”, an unlikely charge as that is, does not unduly perturb us; on the other hand, your charge that all those who voice dissent of your government’s policy on GM crops and nuclear power do not belong to the “thinking segment” of society, is an indictment of a large section of our citizenry. It betrays an inappropriate distinction between “thinkers” and “non-thinkers” solely on the basis of agreement or disagreement with government policy. Surely, this cannot be. Informed dissent and a healthy response to it by our government through trusted dialogue are vital for a functioning democracy. The absurdity of this position is therefore self-evident and it absolutely requires us to make a measured and robust response through addressing the key issues surrounding GM crops and the nuclear power sector.

The prominently visible foreign hand of the US, in these greatly important issues with ramifications of our country far into the future (and with regard to GM crops, irreversibly so), is squarely created and abetted by the UPA government. One indication of such collusion is the line-up of support your government has sought or received thus far from ABLE (Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises). The Indo-US knowledge initiative on agriculture, the Indo-US CEOs Forum, the Indo-US Business Council, etc., all of which expose the distinct foreign influence, are deliberately brought into these critical policy areas. Along with your investigations of the so-called ‘anti-national misdeeds of the NGO’, why is your government not probing the influence peddled by these agencies and entities who are primarily furthering the interests of foreign governments and private multinational corporations? Or, is it that only those who support your policies are helping the nation, while those raising legitimate and scientifically based dissent are all branded as traitors working against the national interest?

(See the letter written by Krishna Iyer, Romila Thapar, Praful Bidwai, Admiral Ramdas and others to Manmohan Singh, dated 5 March 2012).

In fact, this insidious foreign hand Manmohan Singh (who is trying to devastate Indian agriculture and forcing farmers to commit suicide), is behaving like a ruthless field marshal of a foreign invading army. The great Second Green Revolution has been declared with much fanfare after turning the fields of Punjab and Haryana barren and poisonous. Now this salesman of international agri-business is casting his greedy eyes on the eastern states of India.

The aim of Indo-US knowledge initiative on agriculture is a conspiracy to recolonise India. The plan is being implemented through the present day Mir Jafar Manmohan Singh.

By submitting the Biotechnology Authority Bill in Parliament, this foreign hand is trying to impose legislative sanction for destroying Indian agriculture and handing it over to US-based seed giants. GM crops will not only damage health and environment, but our seeds will be lost forever and the entire peasantry will be mortgaged to the international agri-business led by Monsanto.

In the context of GM crops, Manmohan Singh’s loyalty to his imperial masters is self-evident. GM crops were invented by the US; given their raison’d’etre of profit for the industry patent laws in that country and their commercialisation promoted at the behest of the White House to “foster the biotech industry” led by Monsanto, the international market leader holding 90% of crop patents. No GM crop is approved “as safe” by the US regulatory authorities in the US when they are put to market GM cotton and other crops. The industry has held sway; there is little regulatory oversight.

Indo US Nuclear deal, Kudankulam Struggle and the Foreign Hand

Yankee imperialism can never find such an obedient puppet like Manmohan Singh in the entire world who even staked his own Government to implement Indo US nuclear deal. The entire episode was akin to feudal loyalty of the peasant serf to the lord of manor. It is a well known fact that nuclear energy is an extremely obsolete screw driver technology which is not even preferred in Manmohan Singhs ideological Mecca the United States.

Manmohan Singh’s imperial masters who have themselves abandoned this in their own country found a loyal slave in Manmohan Singh to bail out their private nuclear corporations like Westinghouse to make super profits in a poor third world country like India, when in their own country the technology is destined for oblivion. After Fukushima disaster when the ruling classes of advanced capitalist countries are giving up nuclear power this intellectual slave of the neo-liberal west is so blind informationwise. So blocked in his thinking that while his master have outgrown the nuclear option this loyal slave still thrusting nuclear energy into our throat. Nuclear Energy in India becoming an instrument for super profits of American nuclear corporations. They have  imposed their obsolete and dangerous technology in India.

The Indo US nuclear deal was not only an instrument for bailing out the American nuclear corporations but it was an brazan attack on our sovereignty. It allows unrestricted entry into our nuclear installations by the Americans, it was an outrageous act by the US imperialists to consolidate their hold in South Asia for their defense and geo strategic interests. This foreign hand Manmohan Singh did everything in his capacity including striking a deal with Samajwadi Party to thrust the imperialist Indo US nuclear deal on Indian people. The loyal Foreign hand in India was at full play during the debate on Indo US nuclear deal. A conservative estimate puts it that the US nuclear corporation will make around 6 lakh crores of the business facilitated by the  Indo US nuclear deal, Uncle Sam will never find such loyal agent like Manmohan Singh any where else.

It is a common sense world over that nuclear energy is undesirable ad dangerous. The per megawatt cost of nuclear energy is much higher than any other forms of power generation. Yet this extremely dangerous and price wise exorbitant this killer energy is being forcibly  thrust on Indian people by this loyal Foreign hand Manmohan Singh Nuclear Energy hardly provides 1% of our power generation, and the official claim of being a clean and green source of energy is pure bullshit. The nuclear establishment clearly fails to account the embedded energy requirement to build a nuclear power plant. There is genuine and increasing public concern over the dangers of nuclear technology, particularly because the Indian nuclear establishment is directed by the government to expand their nuclear power activity on the basis of the import of untested reactors and in the absence of an independent and transparent nuclear safety regulator.

No nuclear power plant is 100% safe and for the government to make such a statement, as have been made only recently, stretch credulity and cone across as glib assurances in the back drop of the Fukushima accident, which has been particularly devastating and is fresh in people’s minds. The accidents at Three Mile Island (1979) Chernobyl (1986) also involved human error and weak nuclear safety regulation. Japan is a technologically savvy country. Despite this, they have not been able to respond till date to the sheer Scale of the Fukushima disaster to contain its impacts. In India, with our dense population, our lack of management skills, the unilateral decision-making at the highest political levels on the purchase of very complex and hither to untested nuclear reactors and technology systems with out involving the national safety evaluation process, refusal to constitute a totally independent and transparent nuclear safety regulatory system in the country, and our singularly inefficient disaster mitigation abilities, etc. could altogether land us in a major nuclear disaster soon, if these deficiencies are not immediately corrected, cost estimates of the Fukushima accident are currently placed at more than immediately corrected. Cost estimates of the Fukushima accident are currently placed at more than US $16 billion and it is still rising.

It will take decade to cleanup Fukushima and the significant strech of surrounding areas of radioactive contamination, and the clean up may never be complete, as evident from the Chernobyl experience where the Russians are setting up a sarcophagus to shield the stricken reactors from humanity and the environment.

Despite an assurance given by the Prime Ministers office on April 26, 2011 that “Action taken on previous safety reviews will be put in the public domain”, neither the DAE Nor NPCIL seems to make a mockery of the spirit of Article 19 of the constitution that entitles every citizen, as a fundamental right, to be informed about the functioning of any public authority, to the extent that its acts of omission and commission affects individual life. AERB, which is required to oversee and regulate the activities of DAE and NPCIC, continues to be subordinate to DAE and the new regulatory authority bill introduced by DAE before parliament, further more, does not ensure the independence of the regulator from the executive that controls it.

At many of our nuclear sites including Kudankulam, no truthful and comprehensive EIAs have been made and associated public hearing conducted as stipulated by law. Where representations of the local population have prepared scientific reports to the best of their ability, on their own, on pertinent safety deficiencies of a nuclear plant, and DAE has ignored those reports and not responded to the concerns expressed. A typical example is the recent PMANE expert groups report dated 12th Febuary 2012, which the Kudankulam protest groups prepared and submitted to the DAE. This report highlights serious questions about the safety of the Kudankulam site based on geotechnical and oceanographic considerations, backed by independent and scientific data ands publications from academic and research institutions. Through all this, the AERB which must come forth and defend the safety of these plants, has maintained a stoney silence, whereas, in any civilized country, it is the regulator’s duty to defend what they have approved as safe. In India, it is because the AERB is a captive regulator who seeks permission of the DAE before they speak publicly on any issue.

Let us be clear that nuclear power, like most other power technologies, is not 100% safe and can never be. But, given that the downside risk of a nuclear accident can be immeasurable and the empirical evidence from the past three core meltdowns  the world has witnessed reinforces such a possibility, how safe it can be will depend on the integrity of our regulators and our leaders who on the other hand are constantly manipulating the system, including the safety regulator. Our government has not yet realized that there is a strong positive correlation between the transparency of a safety regulator and the degree of eventual safety obtained. While the public is kept entirely in the dark on how safety is assured, the Prime Minister personally continues to endorse the relentless claims of DAE and NPCIL that nuclear power technology is 100% safe. On that basic there is little reason for comfort.

The enactment of the current civil liability law by the government betrays the PM’s stance on safety claims. The government has gone out of its way to bow to pressures and demands exerted by the US and Western MNCs to ensure that civil nuclear liability law shields reactor suppliers from accident liability in excess of the ridiculously low cap of Rs 1500 crore (equivalent to US $ 300 million). Evidently, foreign reactor suppliers themselves are not as confident as the PM seems to be of the safety of their own reactors and want the Indian tax payer to bear what could be an astronomical part of the liability in case of a nuclear accident. The latest estimate of the Fukushima liability has touched US $ 16 billion, compared to the cap of US $ 300 million imposed by the civil nuclear liability law that the Indian government has enacted. Further more, yielding further to MNCS’ pressure, the government has framed the rules under the liability law, exceeding the limits set by the law itself, imposing limitations on the definition of “consequential” casts and the timespan within which the Indian operator can prefer accident claims against reactor suppliers. The easy terms that the Indian government has agreed to in this matter are truly a national betrayal; a constitutional aberration in letter and spirit.

As far as Kudankulam unit 1 and 2 are concerned, the sketchy EIA report completed several years ago does not contain a comprehensive risk analysis, estimation of the probabilities of core-melt down or major radioactive releases, the factoring in of potential human errors, or a proper site evaluation from the geotechnical and oceanography points of view. We believe not even a cursory examination of such issues was done when the site was finalized, or thereafter. Even if NPCIL claims that such an analysis has been carried out, they have not placed it in public domain. When DAE and NPCIL choose to function in a shroud of secrecy with the implicit approval of the Prime Minister, it hardly seems fair of prudent on the part of the government to demand that the people who are going to be directly affected should refrain from raising their concerns. Why should this be? If the government has decided to investigate NGOs who have allegedly received foreign funding, it is appropriate and even more necessary to investigate thoroughly, the circumstances under which unusual accommodation with western MNC’s has been made by the same government. (See the appendix to the letter written to the Prime Minister by eminent citizens)

The US pressure on the civil nuclear liability bill shows the impact of foreign hand in the nuclear matters in India. The struggle against the nuclear power plat at Kudankulam is the struggle against this foreign hand.

Conclusion: Manmohan Singh, operation Green hunt and state repression in India:

This foreign hand Manmohan Singh whose grips are tightening over throats of helpless peasants, Adivasis women, religious and national minorities has proved to be the most cruel henchman of Yankee imperialism in the third world, Manmohan Singh outclasses puppets like Batista, Marcos, Pinochet and other monsters in his competition to appease his imperial masters. How he crawls in front of his masters from the white house is proved by the fact he broke the tradition and protocol and went to receive Obama personally at the Delhi Airport. How he behaves as a starry eyed teenager was noticed when to meet President Bush he fell into love with him. This Uncle Sams favorite butler whose entire training has been in institutions like world bank designed for imperialist hegemony, has been ruthlessly commodifying every necessary life needs of Indian people, food, shelter, water, rivers, land, forest and so on. Life for the poor has become most difficult in the era of forward trading and speculative finance capital.

 

As soon as Manmohan Singh was sworn in as Prime Minister, he declared Maoists to be the greatest internal threat to India. Thus he declared a war on the poorest and poor people who are struggling for survival and dignity against snatching away their water, forest land, life livelihood and dignity. At the behest of his imperial masters Manmohan Singh has launched a war on his own people to snatch away their land, forest, mines and water for rapacious plunder by international and national corporates. He installed another running dog of imperialism Chidambaram as Home Minister who in equal desperation to please his imperial masters launched “Operation Green Hunt”. Tens of thousand of paramilitary forces with the tacit help of the army were deployed to severely crush the poorest of the poor’s uprising against total destitution and state repression. Hounds of the Indian ruling classes BSF, CRPF, COBRA, GREYHOUND were unleashed on the struggling Adivasis’ from Jangalmahal to Chattisgarh to Narayana Patna. Thousand were murdered, raped and tortured. Custodial torture, death and rape has became order of the day in the name of “Operation Green Hunt”. The recent brutal custodial torture of Soni Sori will put to shame even the most cruel dictators. There is a witch-hunt on oppressed nationalities and minorities. Kashmir, North-east and the Batla house encounter are stark indicators of what is being done to the oppressed nationalities and minorities in this country. The recent arrest of the Delhi based journalist Mr Kazmi under pressure from the imperialist Zionist lobby is a test case, how Manmohan Singh operates on behalf of CIA and Mossad. This Foreign hand Manmohan Singh’s hand is dripping in Blood from Kashmir to North-east, and regions from Bastar to Jangalmahal. We have seen blood dripping from this hand at Jaitapur, Kalinganagar, Nandigram, Narayan Patna, Kashipur, Sompetta, Bhatta parsaul and Tappal, the list is endless.

 

The people in Fatehabad, Jaitapur, Mithivirdi, Chutka are fighting to shove off this foreign hand off their back, to save themselves from the disasters of nuclear power plant. The struggle in Kudankulam is a struggle against this Foreign hand Manmohan Singh who is forcibly pushing the nuclear power plant into their throat. To save the people and environment of this and to free ourselves from the clutches of US imperialism this hand needs to be chopped off.

Blog:

www.stormingthewinterpalace.blogspot.com & www.revolutionarynucleus.blogspot.com

Email: asit1917@gmail.com

Rice 2.0

Of the world’s 50,000 edible plant species, only a few hundred find their way to menus around the globe. Of those, just three — rice, wheat and maize — make up two-thirds of the human food supply. And only rice is responsible for feeding half the world, or more than 3.5 billion people. In other words, rice is important. So important, in fact, that a tweak to the way rice is grown, sold or eaten can send ripples through the world economy. Rice 2.0 is GlobalPost’s look at a tiny grain with a giant footprint.Rice 2.0: Golden rice a golden opportunity?

Genetically modified golden rice could save millions of lives, but in India it may never get into the ground.

November 28, 2011 06:28

Editor’s note: Of the world’s 50,000 edible plant species, only a few hundred find their way to menus around the globe. Of those, just three — rice, wheat and maize — make up two-thirds of the human food supply. And only rice is responsible for feeding half the world, or more than 3.5 billion people.

In other words, rice is important. So important, in fact, that a tweak to the way rice is grown, sold or eaten can send ripples through the world economy. Earlier this year, government subsidies for rice in Thailand, where 30 percent of the world’s crop originates, did just that. Prices everywhere shot up, though it looks like any looming instability has been offset by other exporters, namely India, steadying the market.

Still, the point is rice in one place affects millions. Tainted crops in China mean two-thirds of the country’s people ingest toxins everyday. In Japan, global warming changed rice and an entire culture. Rice 2.0 is GlobalPost’s look at a tiny grain with a giant footprint.

NEW DELHI, India — When Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer unveiled genetically modified golden rice a decade ago, they promised to save millions of lives across India and other developing countries by providing the poor and malnourished a ready source of betacarotene.

But in India, opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMO) may well kill the initiative before it takes off.

“I have no hesitation in saying that we will make all efforts to stop it,” said Devinder Sharma, an agricultural researcher and farmers’ advocate based in the Punjab.

In many respects, golden rice represents the fantastic potential of GM foods. But because of the method used to create it — piggybacking genes from the common daffodil on a kind of bacteria found in the soil to induce the plant to produce betacarotene in the rice kernel — opposition remains fierce.

Environmentalists fear the new variety might spread and overwhelm other native crops. Anti-globalization activists fear that the new technology represents the thin end of the wedge for multinational corporations seeking to make slaves of the small farmer. And advocates of organic farming fear that “tampering with nature” may result in unknown health costs.

“Sensible people should be aware that this [opposition] is not scientifically justified at all,” said Adrian Dubock, executive secretary of the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board and the architect of the project designed to distribute golden rice to the world’s poor.

“The reasons for objections are complicated. Sometimes they’re religious. Sometimes they’re related to fears about globalization.”

And those fears could be costly, according to Dubock. While the vision problems associated with Vitamin A deficiency are better known, it also causes immune system problems that are especially vicious among pregnant women and newborn children.

More Rice 2.0: Happy farmers, hungrier planet?

“The latest WHO figures [from 2005] have shown that between 23 and 34 percent of child mortality could be prevented by having a universal source of vitamin A,” Dubock said. “Similarly, with mothers about 40 percent of maternal mortality could be prevented.”

Proponents of technological solutions to the world’s food and nutrition problems believe golden rice could be the answer.

After some tweaks to the original strain, the latest generation of the genetic modification — known as the r event — promises to provide as much as 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A for poor people who consume as little as 40 grams of golden rice a day. At least one study of a theoretical plan to give the modified rice to poor farmers claims that it would be 50 percent more efficient than the current efforts to provide dietary supplements.

More Rice 2.0: Toxic rice in China

And the technology’s inventors compelled the owners of the patent, a biotechnology company called Syngenta, to allow poor farmers around the world free access to the new variety as long as they earn less than $10,000 a year — ostensibly eliminating fears about industrialized agriculture that have plagued other GMO crops like Monsanto’s Bt Cotton.

“All the normal arguments don’t apply here,” said Dubock. “This is a gift from the inventors.”

Here in India, however, farmer advocates and environmental activists view that gift as a Trojan Horse.

“They are using the humanitarian window to actually push for GM acceptance. This is a PR exercise, nothing beyond that,” said Sharma. “Once you accept golden rice, you’re accepting all kinds of GM crops. That’s their agenda.”

How paranoid that sounds depends on your faith in the world’s multinational corporations and multilateral aid agencies. According to a Golden Rice Project backgrounder, “If golden rice is successfully introduced, it will additionally facilitate similar projects in the future.”

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, research is already underway on genetically modified bananas, cassava and sorghum — as well as another version of golden rice that incorporates iron, zinc, protein and Vitamin E. And Bayer, Mogen, Monsanto, Novartis and Zeneca all waived patents to allow golden rice to be given away free to poor farmers. That was not the case for Bt Brinjal or Bt Cotton.

Researchers in the Philippines are optimistic that they will submit all the necessary safety information to the government as early as 2013 and many believe that the introduction of golden rice as a staple crop will follow in short order.

But in India — where the problem of Vitamin A deficiency is much larger in scale — it promises to take much longer.

India has already introduced the golden rice gene into locally grown varieties in isolated greenhouses, as mandated by law. But before it can be distributed to farmers, researchers must conduct additional trials in real-world conditions in isolated fields and satisfy additional safety regulations.

Assuming that goes well, then planners must work out a strategy for introducing the crop without damaging India’s lucrative export trade in Basmati rice — since contamination of a single shipment with a few grains of GMO rice could scare off importers in the European Union, where consumer anxiety over GM food is high.

“Currently we can say we are in the product development phase,” said S.R. Rao, who in his former role as director of India’s Department of Biotechnology first pushed for introducing golden rice in India.

“The future of golden rice will depend on how we address regulatory concerns, how we communicate to the public and how we generate public acceptance. That is the challenge.”

In India, opposition to GMOs has never been stronger. Despite three years of research that cleared a GM variety of eggplant as safe for cultivation and consumption, last year activists succeeded in blocking the introduction of Bt Brinjal — a pesticide-resistant strain developed by Monsanto and Maharastra-based Mahyco.

Opposition to Bt Cotton — which now accounts for more than 40 percent of the cotton grown in India — has also gathered steam as activists link corporate control over seeds to debt-related farmer suicides that have killed upwards of 5,000 farmers in the cotton-growing region of Maharashtra since 2005, though researchers have attributed the problem to various other causes as well.

As New York Times columnist David Rieff argued recently, advocates of organic farming are gaining sway over the technology-friendly agriculturalists bred by the green revolution with the ascendency of India’s right to food movement.

“Because of the Bt Brinjal fiasco, there is a lot of demoralization in the scientific community,” said Rao. “While the regulatory system is working to an extent and the guidelines are getting slowly, slowly built up, at the end of the tunnel there is no light.”

For golden rice, that leaves a complex web of opposition that goes beyond health and safety concerns that GMO proponents argue have no foundation in science.

For example, initially Indian opponents of GMOs used some cocktail-napkin math to claim poor women would have to eat seven to nine kilograms of rice per day to get the benefits that golden rice advocates promised. When researchers created new varieties to deliver more betacarotene, their opponents moved the goalposts, introducing the problem of too much Vitamin A — which can reach toxic levels through supplements, but not from the body’s conversion of betacarotene.

Simultaneously, critics question whether the poor people targeted by the program have the reserves of body fat needed to absorb and process a micronutrient like betacarotene into Vitamin A. Moreover, they argue that pushing a “monoculture” that would reduce the biodiversity of rice might put India at risk of an ecological disaster like the Irish potato famine — in which a potato blight killed around a million people dependent on a single staple crop for food.

“We are faced with what happened during the potato famine at any time,” said Sharma, in a characteristic example of the activist reaction to technology-based solutions. “It can happen in the case of rice. The narrower the genetic base, the greater the problems you are facing.”

That’s an alarmist view. Despite decades of industrialized agriculture around the world, there has been no event similar to the potato famine since the 19th century.

However, some farmers and health workers in India and other countries have noted detrimental effects from the so-called monocultures brought about by the introduction of high-yield hybrids — particularly during India’s green revolution.

In the Garwhal region of the Himalayas, for instance, activists from Beej Bachao Andolan (Seed Savers) re-introduced indigenous strains of rice after a drought decimated the green revolution’s high-yield hybrids. And in the breadbasket region of Haryana and Punjab, environmental groups allege that high rates of certain cancers are the result of the massive doses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides required for green revolution crops.

That means that, at least in India, golden rice could face a long wait.

“It’s still in the advanced research stage,” said Rao. “We want to determine by the end of the year whether we are ready to enter the regulatory approval phase, through field trials. So we are scheduled for a major review in the next month.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/111122/rice-20-golden-rice-genetically-modified-organisms-vitamin-Ahttp://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/111122/rice-20-golden-rice-genetically-modified-organisms-vitamin-A

How Much Insecticide Do Bt Plants Actually Produce?

Testbiotech, Germany
Press Release
21 November 2011
New publication shows inadequacies in risk assessment
Munich – A new publication by an international research consortium has revealed several inadequacies in current approaches to risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. The publication deals with methods used for measurement in so-called Bt-plants. These plants produce an insecticidal protein ( a so-called Bt toxin) that originates from soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). One example is maize MON810 which is cultivated in some countries in the EU, many others can be imported and used in food and feed. Now for the first time, joint research involving four laboratories has shown that the results produced by industry and other institutions so far are not reliably reproducible and comparable because they are not determined and validated by standardized methods.
The actual content of these Bt toxins is highly relevant for assessing risks for the environment, and also for preventing resistance in pest insects. Without reliable data, the safety of these genetically engineered plants cannot be properly assessed.
András Székács from the Plant Protection Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences summarized relevant findings: „Our data emphasize the importance of standardized protocols among laboratories and provide compelling evidence that, currently, reproducibility and comparability of reported Bt toxin measurements is low. Hence, individual results of Bt toxin concentrations cannot be taken at face value as a definitive result without further validation. An outstanding example is the reporting of Bt concentrations in pollen of MON 810 maize, stemming from very few individual studies only.‰
The content of Bt toxin in pollen is a pivotal question when it comes to environmental risk assessment and regulatory decision-making. The pollen can be taken up by various pollinating insects such as honey bees and wild bees, hoverflies and many more. It can also be ingested by butterfly caterpillars that feed on pollen-dusted plants. Toxic pollen is extremely rare in nature but has become wide-spread where genetically engineered Bt-plants are grown. Of similar importance is the Bt content in roots since it might affect important soil organisms and their food web. But also the Bt content in those parts of the plants that are used for food and feed is critical since open questions remain concerning their potential effects on health. Additionally, only very little research has investigated the impact of various environmental factors on the Bt toxin production in different Bt plant varieties and plant parts. Thus, reliable methods for measuring Bt concentrations in Bt plants that can be compared among studies are indispensable and urgently needed.
Currently already ten different Bt toxins are allowed in the usage of genetically engineered plants imported to the European Union. In many cases, these toxins are even combined in the plants. For example, a maize called SmartStax, developed jointly by Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences produces six different Bt toxins. As a recent report from Testbiotech shows, these plants were never tested properly for possible interactions of the various Bt toxin combinations, nor were reliable methods or data presented regarding the actual content of the insecticidal proteins.
The research and publication were funded as a pilot project by civil society institutions in Germany such as Gekko foundation, Foundation on Future Farming, Testbiotech and Gesellschaft für ökologische Forschung.
Furthermore, this work was carried out as a joint project of members of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER).
Reference to the article:
András Székács, Gabriele Weiss, David Quist, Eszter Takács, Béla Darvas, Matthias Meier, Trilochan Swain & Angelika Hilbeck (2011):
Inter-laboratory comparison of Cry1Ab toxin quantification in MON 810 maize by enzyme-immunoassay, Food and Agricultural Immunology,
DOI:10.1080/09540105.2011.604773
Contact:
András Székács (corresponding author of the article), Department of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Analysis, Plant Protection Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary aszek@nki.hu
Christoph Then, Testbiotech, Munich, Germany, +49 15154638040info@testbiotech.org.
link to the article:
link to the report about SmartStax: http://www.testbiotech.de/en/node/515

బీటీ పత్తి నిలువునా ముంచింది: 16.36 లక్షల ఎకరాల్లో ఎండిన పంట; రూ.6,545 కోట్లు కోల్పోయిన రైతులు

పత్తి రైతుల ఆశలను కరవు మింగేసింది. తీవ్ర వర్షాభావంతో పంట పూర్తిగా పోవడంతో పెట్టిన పెట్టుబడులు కూడా తిరిగి రాక అప్పుల ఊబిలో చిక్కుకుపోయేలా చేసింది. తెగుళ్లను తట్టుకుని అధిక దిగుబడులిస్తుందని, కాసుల వర్షం కురిపిస్తుందని నల్లబజారులో అధిక ధరలకు కొని సాగుచేసిన బీటీ పత్తి ఎండలకు తట్టుకోలేక నిలువునా ఎండిపోయింది. ఈ రకం వంగడాలు రాష్ట్రంలో నెలకొన్న అధిక వేడి వాతావరణాన్ని తట్టుకోలేకపోయాయి. స్థానిక పరిస్థితులకు అనుగుణంగా ఎన్నో ఏళ్లుగా పండించే సాధారణ పత్తి వంగడాలను సాగుచేస్తే వర్షాభావ పరిస్థితులకు తట్టుకుని కొంత పంటయినా చేతికొచ్చేదని ఆచార్య రంగా వ్యవసాయ విశ్వవిద్యాలయ శాస్త్రవేత్తలు తెలిపారు.
చిరాష్ట్రంలో కరెంటు కోత, తీవ్ర వర్షాభావంతో ఎండిపోయిన పత్తిపంట విస్తీర్ణం 16.36 లక్షల ఎకరాలకు చేరిందని వ్యవసాయ శాఖ తాజాగా ప్రభుత్వానికి నివేదించింది. వేరుశెనగ తరవాత అత్యధికంగా ఎండిపోయిన పంట ఇదే. ఈ ఏడాది 43 లక్షల ఎకరాల్లో పత్తి సాగుచేశారు. మిగిలిన 27 లక్షల ఎకరాల్లోని పంటయినా సక్రమంగా వస్తుందా అన్న ఆందోళన నెలకొంది.
చిసాధారణంగా ఎకరం పొలంలో 10 క్వింటాళ్ల పత్తి దిగుబడి వస్తుంది. ప్రస్తుతం క్వింటా ధర రూ.4వేలు ఉంది. ఈ ధర ప్రకారం లెక్కవేసినా మొత్తం ఎండిపోయిన 16.36 లక్షల ఎకరాలకు సంబంధించి పత్తి రైతులు కోల్పోయిన సొమ్ము రూ.6546 కోట్లని అధికారిక నివేదిక చెబుతోంది. ఈ నష్టం మరింత పెరిగే అవకాశమూ ఉంది.
చిసాధారణంగా ఎకరం పొలంలో 10 క్వింటాళ్ల పత్తి దిగుబడి వస్తుంది. ప్రస్తుతం క్వింటా ధర రూ.4వేలు ఉంది. ఈ ధర ప్రకారం లెక్కవేసినా మొత్తం ఎండిపోయిన 16.36 లక్షల ఎకరాలకు సంబంధించి పత్తి రైతులు కోల్పోయిన సొమ్ము రూ.6546 కోట్లని అధికారిక నివేదిక చెబుతోంది. ఈ నష్టం మరింత పెరిగే అవకాశమూ ఉంది.

చిబీటీ విత్తనాలను నల్లబజారులో 450 గ్రాముల ప్యాకెట్‌ను రూ.2500 చొప్పున కొని ఐదెకరాలు సాగుచేస్తే...ఇప్పుడు విత్తనాల ఖర్చు కూడా తిరిగి వచ్చే పరిస్థితి కానరావడం లేదని మెదక్‌ జిల్లా కొండపాకకు చెందిన రైతు నర్సింహ వాపోయారు. ఎకరానికి విత్తనాల ఖర్చే రూ.5 వేలు తేలిందని ఆవేదన వ్యక్తం చేశారు.

జీవ వైవిధ్యం లేకనే నష్టం 
రైతులు మూకుమ్మడిగా బీటీ విత్తనాలే సాగుచేయడం వల్ల జీవ వైవిధ్యం లేకుండా పోయింది. బీటీ పత్తి కొంత, మరికొంత స్థానిక రకాలైన నర్సింహ, ఎల్‌కే861 వంటివి సాగుచేయాలి. స్థానిక రకాలు ఒకసారి ఎండలకు కాత, పూత రాలిపోయినా...మరో వర్షానికి మళ్లీ చిగురించి రైతులకు కొంతయినా పంట చేతికొచ్చేది. అసలు తేలిక నేలల్లో వర్షాలను నమ్ముకుని పత్తి సాగుచేయడం కూడా సరైంది కాదు. వాతావరణం ప్రతికూలిస్తే...ఇక్కడ నష్టాలు తప్పవు.

- మొవ్వ రామారావు, మాజీ వ్యవసాయ శాస్త్రవేత్త
బీటీ వేయాల్సింది 30 శాతం విస్తీర్ణంలోనే... 
రాష్ట్రంలో బీటీ పత్తి సాగు వేలం వెర్రిలా మారింది. కరవు పరిస్థితుల నెలకొనడంతో రైతులు నష్టపోయారు. వాస్తవానికి 30 శాతం విస్తీర్ణంలోనే బీటీ సాగుచేయాలని శాస్త్రీయ పరిశోధనలు చెబుతున్నాయి. కానీ 90 శాతానికి మించి వేయడం వల్ల ఎండలకు తేలికపాటి నేలల్లో పంట ఎండిపోతోంది. బీటీ అనేది తెగుళ్ల నివారణకే పరిమితం. కరవు పరిస్థితుల్లో ఈ మొక్కల ఎదుగుదల సరిగా ఉండటం లేదు.
- రంగా వర్శిటీ ముఖ్యశాస్త్రవేత్త గోపీనాథ్, 
మాజీ శాస్త్రవేత్త జలపతిరావ

China Suspends Commercialisation of Genetically Engineered Rice and Wheat

THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE

China Suspends Commercialisation of Genetically Engineered Rice and Wheat

After several years of scientific and public debates it is reported that China will not commercialise genetically modified (GM) staple food crops such as rice and wheat for the next 5 to 10 years. The widely read Economic Observer, a financial weekly publication, citing a source close to the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) confirmed this move in its 23 September 2011 issue: see Item 1 below.

This seems to be in line with the increased caution over GM technology that has reached the highest level of the government. At the Fourth International Biosafety Workshop in Beijing in April 2011 co-organised by several Chinese scientific organisations, a senior official of the Ministry of Environment in his opening speech said that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has called for more caution on GMOs.

Uncertainty about the viability of the current GM technology is also raised as a key reason. The Economic Observer states that according to public reports, the GM rice Bt Shanyou 63 can increase yield by 8%. But the source person said that currently the GM seeds bred by domestic experts do not have “yield-increasing genes”. Because the GM crop is pest resistant, the “increased yieldt” is in fact the savings from pesticides cost counted as yield. It should be noted that Shanyou 63 was first developed in 1981 by a team of scientists at the Fujian Provincial Institute of Agricultural Science.

The policy decision not to commercialise GM rice will be reflected in the “Modern agricultural crop seed industry development Plan (2011-2020)” to be released this year. The plan is based on the 18 April report of the State Council (the Cabinet equivalent in China) titled “Views on accelerating the development of modern crop seed industry”. Interestingly, from the Economic Observer article it appears that GM is only briefly mentioned twice.

The exception that is under consideration for commercial planting is GM corn, and according to the Economic Observer article this is driven by the fact that corn imports are increasing rapidly and of the two varieties most widely grown, one variety developed domestically (not GM) may be facing new pests after several years of “peaking” in its production. GM corn and soya are currently imported for livestock feed and food processing but not approved for commercial cultivation.

When production safety certificates were given in November 2009 for two GM rice varieties and one GM corn variety it triggered heated discussion and debate within the scientific community and the public on the environmental and human safety of GM crops and products. The biosafety assessment itself had taken more than 5 years with rice being the most sensitive as it is the country’s main staple food.  Each safety production certification is usually geographically circumscribed (China has 28 provinces and autonomous regions, and 4 metropolitan areas as well as 2 Special Administrative Regions) and not for the entire country. So for example, the GM rice certificate was for one province only.

However such certification does not mean that commercial cultivation is allowed. This is reiterated in the Global Times article of 30 September below that stated, “A spokesperson with the MOA’s GM product safety department told the People’s Daily in 2010 that just because GM products have received a safety certificate does not mean they can be commercialized, and strict regional and production tests are obligatory before products reach the public.” (see Item 2 below and TWN Biosafety Info Service of 21 January 201: GE rice in China: A step closer to commercialization? at http://biosafety-info.net/bioart.php?bid=587)

Meanwhile, Chen Xiaohua, a deputy MOA minister in a Global Times report of 30 September pledged to ensure safety of GM crops amid scientists’ appeals for caution in commercializing such products (see Item 2 below).

The same report quoted Yuan Longping, a famous agricultural scientist in China known as the “father of hybrid rice,” who has repeatedly urged the government to proceed cautiously with any move to commercialize GM crops. “One of the major features of GM crops is their ability to resist insects, but even scientists do not know whether such an ability in these crops will have any effect on human beings,” Yuan told Nanfang Daily on 29 September.

Xue Dayuan of the Nanjing Research Institute of Environmental Sciences and chief biodiversity scientist of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, told the Global Times that authorities need to set up effective risk-evaluation and management mechanisms before commercializing GM products as some GM seeds are already circulating in the country, stressing that more more needs to be done in terms of supervision and management of GM technology.

The State Council’s April report cited in the Economic Observer article emphasizes the need to further standardize GM agricultural crop safety evaluation.

The government’s move to suspend commercialisation of major GM staple food crops has been reported widely and is welcomed by various groups in China. Greenpeace Food and Agriculture campaigner Pan Wenjing said that, “This step is a milestone in the process to end all GE (genetically engineered) rice commercialization in China” adding that genetically engineered crops’ long-term risks on human health and the environmental are still unknown. Pan said that it has also been found that many of the GE rice lines in China are embedded with non-Chinese patents, which poses a huge risk on China’s food security should they become commercialized.

In its press release on 25 September Greenpeace called on the government to re-assess its GE policy and its massive GE investments, and instead invest more resources into modern ecological agriculture and other effective technologies. The goal should be to speed up the transition of China’s agriculture to a sustainable, ecological model, for the sake of protecting the environment, ensuring food safety, and securing the economic livelihood of farmers.

 

 

To GE or not?

by Shalini Bhutani | September 28, 2011

A sense of deja vu dawns as one reads the opening lines of the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill, 2011 (“the Bill”) – yet another version of a bill covering genetic engineering (“GE”) and more. The text of the Bill was only made open in mid-August literally hours before it was to be tabled in the Lok Sabha.

 

As per due parliamentary procedures, the Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences informed the Secretary General of the Lok Sabha about the Bill on July 27, 2011. It was listed for being introduced by the Minister on August 17, 2011. The issue has never been debated in Parliament. Many Parliamentarians still stay blissfully unaware of the implications of modern biotechnology in agriculture and the making of a law on the subject.

 

The only other law that talks about biosafety is the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (“the Act”), using which Central Government shall regulate, manage, or control the risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology likely to have adverse impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and human health. (See, Section 36(4)(ii) of the Act). This provision however, has never been invoked.

 

The idea of having a new regulatory regime and a law for the purpose goes back to 2003 when theCartagena Protocol on Biosafety (under the Convention on Biological Diversity) came into force. The very same year, the Ministry of Agriculture constituted the Task Force on the Application of Agriculture Biotechnology in India (“the Task Force). As mentioned in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill, the Task Force recommended the establishment of an “autonomous, statutory, and professionally-led National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority.”

 

 

Sharad Pawar and M.S. Swaminathan

Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the Chairman of the task force on the applications of biotechnology in agriculture, presents the report of the task force to the Union Minister of Agriculture, Sharad Pawar, on June 2, 2004.

Image above is from the website of the PRess Information Bureau here.

Previous attempts to table bills on this issue have been futile. The first legislative draft was the National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill, 2008 (“the NBRA Bill”). Widespread protests from farmer groups, agriculture activists, and concerned individuals led to the NBRA Bill being dropped. In its proposed form (tagged to the very ministry that has the function to promote biotechnology), the regulatory authority was evidently not so independent. The bill was subsequently reincarnated in 2009 by the Department of Biotechnology (“the DBT”) that comes under the purview of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Even the current Bill does not correct the situation of autonomy. In fact, a provision in the Bill expressly gives the Central Government powers to supersede the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority. The decision of the Government of India would be final. (See, Sections 75 and 76 of the Bill)

In the coming days many critiques and analyses of the Bill’s eighty-eight sections will emerge. The very gist of the Bill lies in its expanded title.

 

 

“A Bill to promote the safe use of modern biotechnology by enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory procedures and provide for establishment of the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India and to regulate the research, transport, import, manufacture, and use of organisms and products of modern biotechnology and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

There are certain products, processes, and procedures of modern biotechnology, such as GE that warrant special handling. The technology is yet to be proven ‘safe’ by independent scientific assessment. In such a situation, its promotion is unwarranted. Clearly the Government of India, or at least the Ministry of Science and Technology, believes that our current knowledge of GE is sufficient. It is now official that its makers believe in the application of modern biotechnology in agriculture, food, forests, and animal health care. India however, is yet to develop expertise and technical know-how to be able to test for GE.

 

As regards “enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory procedures”, no matter how “efficient” the regulatory procedures may be, the fact is that the very nature of the technology makes it impossible to contain or recall. A crop variety, an animal breed, or a microorganism interacts with its environment by the laws of nature and not the laws of Parliament. Genetic material foreign to the natural structure of a living organism can also pass on to unintended species or contaminate the soil, water, or cattle in contact with it. It is near impossible to localise and clean up such a (bio) spill in the open environment.

 

Nonetheless, the DBT has been very keen to turn this law into reality. The Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises – Agriculture Group (ABLE-AG) has supported of the Bill. The industry seeks predictability in decision-making on approvals for GE clearances and favours a single-window clearance for GE applications. The Bill clearly centralises the decision-making.

 

The Monsoon Session of Parliament closed on September 8, 2011 without Bill being tabled. In the Winter Session, it might again make an appearance on the Lok Sabha’s list for business. Whether it will see the light of day is anyone’s guess. There is some obvious confusion in the re-writing of the Bill that needs to be sorted out. For example, Section 81 of the Bill proposes overriding effect for the law. Section 86 however, suggests that states that the provisions do not derogate from any other law in forceThe biggest confusion to sort out before pushing such a Bill however, is whether GE is to be or not to be.

Shalini BhutaniShalini Bhutani is a Delhi-based lawyer working independently on issues of trade, agriculture, and biodiversity.