Archive for the 'GM Free Bihar Movement' Category

Letters to PM on crop trials

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Patna, Nov. 7: Three NDA MPs from Bihar — C.P. Thakur of the BJP, Jai Narayan Nishad and Anil Kumar Sahani of the JD(U)— have written separate letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing concern over reports of Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill being introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

They have sought an intervention to stop the process in the interest of farmers. “I have strong objections to it being infringement on the authority of the state on matters related to agriculture and health,” said Thakur in his letter. He also objected to the fact that the proposed bill would be tabled by the ministry of science and technology when it should have been under the ministry of environment or health.

Jai Narayan Nishad, in his letter, has pointed out that seven states — Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala — have already objected to genetically modified crop trials. “You must also be aware that during the Bt Brinjal debate, 13 states had objected to the approval for its commercial cultivation,” Nishad said, adding that the bill and its provisions are going to leave behind a large impact because the livelihood of most of the people of the country depends on agriculture.

He has also expressed apprehensions about degradation of environment resources and serious changes in crop because of GM crops. “I believe you will agree that regulatory regime that does not pay attention to these issues, bio-safety-related as well as those beyond bio-safety, will only benefit the industry and fail our vast majority of poor,” Nishad said.

Sahani in his letter stressed that he has found the contents of the proposed bill “too centralised and thereby contradictory to the principle of decentralisation of governance”, he remarked recalling that the Bihar government had not only objected to the trial of genetic seeds within its state but also apprised the environment ministry of its strong objection to GM field trials. He urged the PM to take public opinion through debates and invite critical inputs before the bill is introduced in Parliament.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar has been in the forefront of objecting the proposed bill. A few months ago, he had written letters stressing that the proposed bill infringes on the rights of the state and that there was no provision for timely compensation to the farmers should the GM seeds fail.

He had been swift to oppose GM seed trial in Sabour and had expressed shock that the trials should have been done without the consent of the state government.

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GM Free Bihar Movement Rejects BRAI Bill

Patna, October 16, 2011: The GM Free Bihar Movement today rejected the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill as anti-people and anti-nature, saying that the Bihar Government should also pitch in immediately to stall the Bill before it becomes a law.

Activists, Consumers, Students & Farmers are raising their voice against BRAI BIll on World Food Day

At a dharna held at the Kargil Chowk, farmers and activists also started a signature campaign against the Bill which they said denied State Governments their authority over Agriculture and Health, which are primarily state subjects.

They felt that besides other failings, there is urgent need to review the Bill before its introduction to the Parliament so that the interests of farmers could be protected and that the Bill should be introduced not by the Ministry of Science and Technology but by the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Environment & Forests.

The speakers at the protest also attacked the Bill for its attempts to bypass the citizens’ Right to Information, as they said, “This Bill, through Section 28, expressly seeks to classify some information as Confidential Commercial Information and leaves it to the discretion of officials of the Authority to share or not share this information.”

“This is regressive, given that the Bt brinjal controversy saw express Supreme Court orders to the regulators asking them to put out all the biosafety data in the public domain,” said Rekha Modi, a Senior Activist from Bihar. She further said that the Bill has very weak penal clauses and does not address liability issues at all.

“The bill will affect our farmers, it will hit our villages. But even then it does not provide for consultation with people at our panchayat levels which is most shocking,” said Pankaj Bhushan, the coordinator of the GM Free Bihar Movement.

Bhushan said Indian farmers have lakhs of varieties of crops developed through their knowledge that will be under threat if the bill in present form becomes law. “That is what we are protesting because we want our farmers, our nature to be protected for they are our real wealth with which we are born,” he added.

Even the noted agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan recently criticised the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (Brai) bill, saying it is against the spirit of Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi and decentralised governance.

The GM Free Bihar Movement also pointed to a recent press release issued by Senior National Advisory Council Member & associated with The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) Ms. Aruna Roy, who too criticized the BRAI Bill for total lack of transparency and being an antidote to RTI.

Activist & member GM Free Bihar Movement, Prakash Bablu said The BRAI Bill is also a regrettable attempt to curtail spaces for people’s participation and democratic oversight in decisions that could affect the lives of the entire population of our country.

The fact that this Bill has been listed for introduction in Parliament with no discussion of its contents in the public domain is an indication of the intent to push this bill through without discussion and debate, said Kanchan Bala, Activist from Patna.

Social Worker Archna Sharma said this bill will end our choice of food in near future.

Pankaj Bhushan

Convener, GM Free Bihar Movement

National Co Convener, Alliance for Sustainable & Holitic Agriculture (ASHA)

9472999999

kisanswarajpankaj@gmail.com

New WikiLeaks Cables Show US Diplomats Promote Genetically Engineered Crops Worldwide

by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

Dozens of United States diplomatic cables released in the latest WikiLeaks dump on Wednesday reveal new details of the US effort to push foreign governments to approve  genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the worldwide interests of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont.

The cables further confirm previous Truthout reports on the diplomatic pressure the US has put on Spain and France, two countries with powerful anti-GE crop movements, to speed up their biotech approval process and quell anti-GE sentiment within the European Union (EU).

Several cables describe “biotechnology outreach programs” in countries across the globe, including African, Asian and South American countries where Western biotech agriculture had yet to gain a foothold. In some cables (such as this 2010 cable from Morocco) US diplomats ask the State Department for funds to send US biotech experts and trade industry representatives to target countries for discussions with high-profile politicians and agricultural officials.

Truthout recently reported on front groups supported by the US government, philanthropic foundations and companies like Monsanto that are working to introduce pro-biotechnology policy initiatives and GE crops in developing African countries, and several cables released this week confirm that American diplomats have promoted biotech agriculture to countries like Tunisia, South Africa and Mozambique.

Cables detail US efforts to influence the biotech policies of developed countries such as Egypt and Turkey, but France continues to stand out as a high-profile target.

In a 2007 cable, the US embassy in Paris reported on a meeting among US diplomats and representatives from Monsanto, DuPont and Dow-Agro-sciences. The companies were concerned about a movement of French farmers, who were vandalizing GE crop farms at the time, and suggested diplomatic angles for speeding up EU approvals of GE Crops.

In 2008 cable describing a “rancorous” debate within the French Parliament over proposed biotech legislation, Craig Stapleton, the former US ambassador to France under the Bush administration, included an update on MON-810, a Monsanto corn variety banned in France.

Stapleton wrote that French officials “expect retaliation via the World Trade Organization” for upholding the ban on MON-810 and stalling the French GE crop approval process. “There is nothing to be gained in France from delaying retaliation,” Stapleton wrote.

Tough regulations and bans on GE crops can deal hefty blows to US exports. About 94 percent of soybeans, 72 percent of corn and 73 percent of the cotton grown in the US now use GE-tolerate herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup, according to the US Agriculture Department.

A 2007 cable, for example, reports that the French ban on MON-810 could cost the US $30 million to $50 million in exports.

In a 2007 cable obtained by Truthout in January, Stapleton threatened “moving to retaliate” against France for banning MON-810. Several other European countries, including Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, have also placed bans on MON-810 in recent years. MON-810 is engineered to excrete the Bt toxin, which kills some insect pests.

Bihar had already rejected these GM seeds trail by Monsanto

Patna, August 9, 2011: Farmers, freedom fighters and activists of the GM Free Bihar Movement today launched a campaign from the capital city calling for ‘Monsanto, Quit India’, accusing the multinational seed company of playing with the lives of Indian people.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh and Food Security Minister Shayam Razak offered juice to the fasting protesters who had organised a sit-in at the Kargil Chowk to observe the Quit India Movement day as an occasion to highlight the havoc being played with consumers.

Addressing the activists Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh said and we are seriously looking after Monsanto seeds. Anyhow no any trail by any company will be allowed in this state.

Minister Shyam rajak added that this has become a national problem now and we are with this movement, he appreciated.

Further, memorandum to Agri Minister has been handed over there to cancel all agreements of Monsanto like companies.

Thereafter, the protesters marched through the major city cross-sections to hand over a memorandum to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that demanded cancelling all agreements that the Bihar government has with various corporations like Monsanto, Mahyco, Bayer etc., and disallow any genetically modified (GM) crop research or trials inBihar.

The Alliancefor Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) – an informal network of more than 400 organisations around the country — and GM Free Bihar Movement organised the programme to ‘Save Our Food, Farmers and Freedom’.

Most attending the day-long events appeared agitated against what they called corporate aggressions on the Indian food and farming.

GM Free Bihar Movement Secretary Pankaj Bhushan accused Monsanto of adopting notorious means in India for a variety of misdeeds and crimes which he listed as under – polluting natural resources, killing and maiming humans with its products, bribing officials for approvals, falsifying safety reports to show the most dangerous chemicals like dioxin as safe, colluding with regulators through revolving doors between the company and government as also false advertising.

Freedom fighters, social activists and farmers were present in large numbers to take up the symbolic fast against the government’s partnerships with Monsanto and research on GM crops like Golden Rice.

“We are forced to remind everyone on Quit India Day that we are living in times when our freedom is being jeopardized yet again in insidious ways – if we as a nation want to protect our food sovereignty and if we want to retain control on what we grow and what we eat, we need to resist this corporate takeover,” Bhushan said.

“We need to put into place lasting and affordable solutions that are farmer-controlled in our agriculture. Urban consumers should realize that it is not just our farmers who are getting trapped and exploited; consumers should understand that access to safe, diverse and nutritious food for all is also at risk,” he added.

Vidya bhushan Singh, Farmer leader Harit Swaraj, Girinder Nr. Sharma, Prakash bablu and other activists along Bhola and Radha, farmer leaders from Rewa Madhya Prades were also on fast.

‘No food shall be grown that we don’t own’

Patna, August 7, 2011: The primary objective of multinational seed companies that ‘no food shall be grown that we don’t own’ came under a sharp attack by the members of civil societies here today, who gave a call for ‘Monsanto Quit India’ on August 9 and also announced holding Kisan Swaraj Week till the Independence Day.

“Monsanto is now facing an anti-trust investigation even in theUnited States. But here inIndia, the Centre is bent upon promoting its seeds. And since Agriculture is the State Subject, now the attempt is to bypass States even,” said Pankaj Bhushan, the national co-convenor of the national ASHA coalition and convenor of GM Free Bihar Movement, adding, “this cannot be tolerated, now.”

Bhushan told a press conference that Monsanto is an American company, which has become the world’s largest seed company by employing many devious strategies and tactics. “We will not allow corporatization of our agriculture. That is why we have called for a nation-wide DAY OF ACTION on August 9, 2011 (Quit India Day) and KISAN SWARAJ WEEK, from August 9 – 15 2011.”

He accused Monsanto of adopting notorious means in India for a variety of misdeeds and crimes – polluting natural resources, killing and maiming humans with its products, bribing officials for approvals, falsifying safety reports to show the most dangerous chemicals like dioxin as safe, colluding with regulators through revolving doors between the company and government as also false advertising.

“What Indian farmers should know is that Monsanto is also a company which has sued and jailed farmers for the “crime” of saving and using seeds that have been purchased by the farmers from the company, to protect its patents,” he said, wondering: “Can you imagine farmers not being allowed the right to save seed from their own crop, when it is farmers who have bred thousands of crop varieties over the centuries?”

Addressing the press conference, renowned socialist senior member of theAlliancefor Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) Vijay Pratap said that Monsanto first exploited the other South Asian countries and is now penetrating deeper intoIndia. “This will completely destroy our agriculture and more farmers will be forced to commit suicides,” he said. “I am concerned that not only our fields will be destroyed by promoting such multinational seed companies but common men will get nothing but poison in the platters while such infiltrators will be raking in the moolah.”

“This is a national problem. Therefore we will hand over a memorandum to our state government on 9th August, cautioning it against the such multinational companies and prevent their entry intoBihar,” he said.  Kisan Morcha President Vidya Bhushan expressed concern over some politicians giving preference to genetically modified and hybrid seeds. “What will happen to our traditional agriculture which is so resourceful and self-sufficient?” he said, promising that the movement against the multinational seed companies will take decisive turn this time.

Farmer leader Girish Sharma said the Centre Government was conspiring to end State Government’s role in deciding the agriculture policies which was illegal. “Over 400 organisations have come together this time across the nation to make it an action day on 9th August,” he said, adding a fast and dharna will be observed on this day at Kargil Chowk in Patna from where a march will start at 3 pm to hand over the memorandum to the government.

State president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union Ramanuj Singh said the companies like Monsanto will have their toughest time now since his organisation has decided to oppose it tooth and nail in the interest of the farmers and agriculture. “We have already warned the government. Now it is time for actions,” he said.

जीएम बीज निर्माता कंपनियों के खिलाफ आंदोलन का एलान

– शुरू होगी किसान स्वराज यात्रा, 9 अगस्त को धरना व पदयात्रा

मुजफ्फरपुर, हमारे संवाददाता : जीएम फ्री बिहार मूवमेंट एवं राष्ट्रीय आशा गठबंधन के तत्वावधान में जीएम बीज निर्माता बहुराष्ट्रीय बीज कंपनियों के खिलाफ आंदोलन चलाया जाएगा। इसकी शुरुआत भारत छोड़ो आंदोलन की तिथि 9 अगस्त से होगी। उस दिन दोनों संस्थाओं के संयुक्त तत्वावधान में पदयात्रा व समाहरणालय में धरना दिया जाएगा। इसकी जानकारी जीएम फ्री बिहार के संयोजक एवं राष्ट्रीय आशा गठबंधन के सह संयोजक पंकज भूषण ने दी। श्री भूषण शनिवार को प्रेस क्लब सभागार में आयोजित संवाददाता सम्मेलन को संबोधित कर रहे थे।श्री भूषण ने कहा कि आशा राष्ट्रीय गठबंधन ने मान्सेंटो सहित अन्य बहुराष्ट्रीय कंपनियों के खिलाफ देश भर में 9 अगस्त से 15 अगस्त के बीच किसान स्वराज सप्ताह मनाया जाएगा। इस अवसर पर अभियान के अध्यक्ष पर्यावरणविद् सुरेश गुप्ता ने कहा कि बहुराष्ट्रीय बीज कंपनियां जड़ जमीन एवं इंसान तीनों का खात्मा करना चाह रही है। जिला जदयू किसान प्रकोष्ठ के अध्यक्ष जिला पार्षद मुक्तेश्वर सिंह ने कहा कि किसान बहुराष्ट्रीय बीज कंपनियों की मंशा समझ चुके हैं। मुरौल के किसान श्री अवध बिहारी ठाकुर ने कहा कि किसान जैविक खेती की ओर लौटने लगे हैं। उन्होने स्थानीय स्तर पर उत्पादित बीजों का उपयोग करने की जरूरत बताई। जिला विधिक सेवा प्राधिकार की सदस्य सह बार एसोसिएशन के संयुक्त सचिव डा.संगीता शाही ने कहा कि शरीर व मस्तिष्क को विकृत करने वाले उत्पादों का उत्पादन कानूनी जुर्म है। आकाक्षा सेवा सदन संस्था की वंदना शर्मा ने कहा कि बहुराष्ट्रीय बीज कंपनियों द्वारा उत्पादित हाइब्रिड बीज, संकर बीज एवं रसायनों के उपयोग को बंद करने के लिए जागरूकता अभियान शुरू किया जा रहा है।

ASHA Training on Ecological Agriculture

ASHA Training on Ecological Agriculture

Workshop-2 with Eastern India Focus

Bolpur Training Centre, West Bengal

Organized by DRCSC (Service Centre), Kolkata

Sept. 5th-8th, 2011

Dear friends,

Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) invites you to our 2nd workshop on Ecological Agriculture, focusing this time on Eastern India. The workshop is being organized by DRCSC, popularly known as Service Centre in West Bengal, one of the foremost resource centres for sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. This is a brief first announcement for your information so that you can start registering and making travel plans. More detailed plan and agenda for the workshop will be circulated in a few days. Early registration and confirmation will help both the organizers and participants plan better.

Who are expected to participate:

The workshop is meant for key organizers in NGOs and community organizations which are taking up the promotion of ecologically sustainable agriculture, and for any committed farmers who are interested in practicing and propagating ecological agriculture. We are particularly inviting participants from the Eastern region, i.e., West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Eastern UP. If you are not working in these states but still want to attend the workshop for specific reasons, do write to us and we will try to accommodate. Note that two more ASHA workshops are being organized in Central India and Northern India.

Dates, Venue and Logistics:

The training will be conducted at the Bolpur Training Centre which is 130 km from Kolkata. You are advised to reach Kolkata by 12pm on Sept. 4th, and the whole group will travel by 4.15pm train to Bolpur, reaching there around 8pm. The training will end around 12.30pm on Sept. 8th and the group plans to take the 2.30pm train back to Kolkata to reach around 6pm. You are advised to plan your departure time for return journey after 8pm on Sept. 8th.

Travel expenses and arrangements should be taken care of by the participants from their respective locations to Kolkata (Howrah or Sealdah). The organizers will take care of travel to venue and back, and food and accommodation (shared rooms).

Program Outline:

There will be sessions on Natural Resource management through Sustainable Agriculture, based on Permaculture principles, bio-integrated farms, integrating other subsystems with the crop component, and so on. Sept. 7th will be spent in a field trip covering food, forest, common property resources, integrated farms, fish farms with garden, biogas, etc.

Please register:

There are 30 spots planned for participants. You are requested to register and confirm at the earliest, by sending the following details with Subject “ASHA Training at DRCSC” to DRCSC drcsc.ind@gmail.com, Pankaj Bhushan mail.tarafoundation@gmail.com, Kiran Vissa kiranvissa@gmail.com, Kavitha Kurugantikavitha.kuruganti@gmail.com.

Name:
Age:
Gender:
Email Address:
Mobile Number:
Food Preferences:
Your Expectations from the training (in brief): 

 Looking forward to a fruitful workshop.

Anshuman Das (drcsc.ind@gmail.com), Kavitha Kuruganti (kavitha.kuruganti@gmail.com), Pankaj Bhushan (mail.tarafoundation@gmail.com), Kiran Vissa (kiranvissa@gmail.com)

For Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)

ASHA is an alliance of about 400 diverse organizations across India that came together through the Kisan Swaraj Yatra (Oct-Dec 2010), a nation-wide mobilization around Food-Farmers-Freedom. Through grassroots work, trainings, campaigns and policy advocacy, ASHA seeks to promote practices and policies that make Indian agriculture ecologically sustainable, ensure dignified livelihoods to its farmers including the small and marginal, preserve their control over agricultural resources like seed, land and water, and ensure adequate, safe food to all citizens.

www.kisanswaraj.in


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