Archive for the 'Seeds' Category

‘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.

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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।

Bihar rejects field trials of GM crops

Patna, March 4, 2011: Farmers and activists today dared multinational seed company Monsanto to conduct field trials of genetically modified crops in the state, and claimed that Bihar was in fact fit to be declared totally GM free. “Our efforts have bore fruit as Bihar farmers are now aware of the dangers of the genetic foods. No farmer or his field is thus offering to be a lab rat in Bihar,” they told a press conference here. Bharitya Kisan Union representatives even said they will chase away anyone found to be engaged in such trials even clandestinely.

Bihar Farmers Commission Chairman and former Central Minister Upendra Nath Verma said that Bihar is the first state to have banned commercial use of Bt brinjal but the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee of the Central Government had permitted some open air field trials, some insect resistance management trials and seed production plots for GM Maize of Monsanto and GM rice of Bayer at seven places in the country, including two in Bihar – Begusarai and Bhagalpur. “We view it with great concern. When Bt brinjal was not approved by the government for commercial use why did it then allow conducting of trial of Bt maize etc?”

GM Free Bihar Movement’s convenor Pankaj Bhushan termed any such trials as “totally unwarranted, unnecessary, illegal and hazardous” and said he was in constant touch with officials of the state not to allow any such trials. “Such trials pose hazards of biological contamination as well as intentional leakage of seed as has been witnessed in the case of Bt cotton earlier in the country.” “Herbicide-tolerant crops like the GM Maize pose many socio-economic concerns in addition to health and environmental hazards flowing both from the increased use of agri-chemicals in the form of weedicides like glyphosate as well as from the genetic engineering process,” he said.

“Since the Bihar government had responded positively to our efforts against Bt brinjal, we had again approached all concerned by raising valid objections against any possible field trials in the state,” Bhushan said adding the campaign against field trials was bearing fruit.

He also said that herbicide tolerance technology will have irreversible impacts on farmers of the state where the poorest people survive out of employment generated through manual de-weeding in agricultural fields.

Commenting on the anti-farmer behaviour of Monsanto, farmer union leaders pointed out that seed monopolies are building up in Indian agriculture with lax regulatory regimes and seed prices are reaching unprecedented, exorbitant high levels. “Monsanto wants to strengthen their position of monopoly by bringing in GM crops where their seed as well as chemical businesses will thrive. Therefore, we will not allow any such companies to conduct field trials in Bihar. Rather, our government should find it appropriate to declare Bihar a GM Free state.”

It is pertinent to note that GM Free Bihar Movement had played a crucial role in raising awareness among the people in Bihar about Bt brinjal, the first GM food crop to have been considered for commercial cultivation in the country.

Both the Centre and Bihar Government then responded rightly to the constitutional, democratic and scientific voices all around and placed a moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal on February 9, 2010.

According to Bhushan, multinationals were still conniving to push GM crops without sufficient research on the human health impacts, unscientific test protocols, absence of independent bio-safety tests, and  conflicting interests of  regulators. Besides, adverse results in experiments were also being masked by the crop developers and ignored by the regulators.

Bihar agri institute to help region with tech, seeds

India plans to set up an international institute for agricultural research in the country’s eastern state of Bihar to help India, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries to upgrade their farm technologies and provide them with high-yielding and disease-resistant crops.

The institute will be named after renowned agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug.

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday announced that the Borlaug Institute of South Asia would be set up soon. “This institute will facilitate availability of new and improved seeds and new technology to the farmers of India and other countries of South Asia,” he said while addressing the nation from the rampart of Red Fort in Delhi on the occasion of India’s sixty-third Independence Day.

Nobel laureate agronomist Norman Borlaug was born in US and did his PhD in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota. He later developed semi-dwarf, high-yield and disease-resistant wheat varieties in Mexico. He later introduced these wheat varieties with advanced agricultural technologies in Mexico, Pakistan and India.

Borlaug helped Pakistan and India double their wheat yield between 1965 and 1970. In recognition of his contribution in saving over a billion people from starvation, Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for helping nations achieve food security and thus promoting world peace.

“In the history of Indian agriculture, Norman Borlaug commands a special place. About 40 to 50 years ago, he developed new and more productive seeds of wheat. Under the leadership of [Indira Gandhi], India achieved the Green Revolution by adopting these seeds,” said Singh in a speech he delivered in Red Fort after unfurling the Indian national flag.

Borlaug had visited Bangladesh at least five times and played a significant role in convincing the Bangladesh government to give special emphasis to crop diversification. The Bangladesh Academy of Sciences had honoured him as a foreign fellow in 1978.

A few weeks after the “hunger crusader” died at the age of 95 on September 12, 2009, the Director General of International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (better known as CIMMYT), Thomas Lumpkin, mooted the proposal to set up the Borlaug Institute of South Asia in India in collaboration with the Indian government.

Indian government’s agriculture ministry accepted the proposal and decided to set up the institute at Pusa in Bihar. The central Indian government had requested the Bihar government to provide 500 acres for setting up the institution, which would work in close coordination with the Norman Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture based in Texas.

Indian government is likely to spend an estimated Rs 5 billion to set up the institution, where agricultural scientists from around the world are expected to come and take part in development of new technologies and seeds for all the South Asian nations.

“We want prosperity, peace and harmony in our neighbouring countries,” Singh said in his Independence Day speech, adding, “Whatever differences we have with our neighbouring countries, we want to resolve them through discussions.”

(New Delhi/bdnews24.com/Aug 15, 2010)

Drought hits Bihar maize farmers

Due to drought this year, the country might not be able to tap maize from the state’s three districts — Begusarai, Khagaria, and five blocks of northern Bhagalpur — whose maize yields are considered among the bests in the country.

While maize has 108 industrial uses, including in the manufacture of gun powder and cosmetics, over and above their use in fast food in metros and other towns, the merchants banking on lifting maize from the three districts have been left wringing their empty hands.

Incidentally, such merchants, for the last three seasons, have been setting up their maize-lifting centres at Maheshkhoot on National Highway-31 in Khagaria district, that is the central point in the zone. Even deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi used to mention this development with pride two years ago. Accordingly, farmers not only in the three districts, but also in neighbouring Purnia and Katihar, had been reaping huge chunk of cash from their maize yield.

Said Jayant Singh from Katihar district, “Last year, I had sold maize worth Rs 3 lakh. As a matter of fact, any farmer who cultivated maize had good return on the crop. But, this year, we are the losers.”

The impact of the drought on the mood and morale of the maize-growing farmers could be easily imagined. In fact, the leader of the Central team assessing the impact of drought in the state, Pankaj Kumar, who is joint secretary in the Union agriculture ministry, noted in his meeting with CM Nitish Kumar on Friday that maize plants had already wilted or dried in the drought-hit districts.

Incidentally, based on rainfall deficit and poor paddy coverage till July 31, the government declared 28 of the state’s 38 districts as drought hit. Both Begusarai and Bhagalpur figured among them. Now, on Monday, disaster management department (DMD) principal secretaryVyas Ji would assess the drought situation in the remaining 10 districts, which include Khagaria, Purnia and Katihar, through videoconferencing with the DMs concerned. Indication on the basis of the field reports was that the situation in the 10 districts was also grim. In effect, these districts would also be declared as drought-hit.

Its implication is that the damage to the maize crop, like paddy and pulses, has been substantial. Pertaining to the 28 districts, the state’s agriculture department had computed that the maize coverage in 2.31 lakh hectares worth around 2.07 metric tonnes had been damaged.

With the damage registered in 10 other districts, the loss of damage would be more. In result, both farmers and industries using maize from Bihar are the sufferers, and those who have the taste for various types of maize-based soup and pop corns would have to shell out extra bit of money to satisfy their culinary fantasies.

(Patna/Abhay Singh/TNN/Aug 15, 2010)


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