Saturday, August 11, 2012

Farmers welcome panel’s report against GM crops-Gulf News Report

 Farmers welcome panel’s report against GM crops

 Panel urges for study of socio-economic and 
health impact of Bt cotton seed
  • By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent
  • Published: 12:31 August 11, 2012

Mumbai: Millions of farmers across the Vidarbha region, Maharashtra, and environmental activists have welcomed the parliamentary committee’s report on genetically modified (GM) crops that was tabled in Parliament.
“Cotton farmers are today relieved that the distress endured by them and the reason for the agrarian crisis has been reflected in the parliamentary panel report,” said Kishor Tieari, representative of a farmers’ body, the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS). Other fact finding committees and even the Prime Minister’s relief packages did not refer to this serious concern over GM crops, he noted.
The panel has recommended a study of socio-economic and health impact of Bt cotton seed and a complete probe in to the issue of Bt Brinjal, saying that adequate tests had not been carried and the approval committee was under “tremendous pressure” from the “Industry and a Minister” to approve it.
“We are indebted to MP Basudeb Acharia and 31 other MPs who have cut across party lines to endorse the truth,” he said and described the report as an “historic, comprehensive and well-grounded document that has thrown light on the agrarian crisis in India.” The panel has revealed that 93 percent of the area is under Bt. Cotton because no alternative seeds are available.

Farmers have appreciated the panel’s visit to Vidarbha, the suicide capital of cotton farmers in the country. The panel had travelled across the country over a period of two and a half years consulting various stakeholders in the debate including farmers, farmer union leaders, biotechnology industry representatives, government officials, scientists and civil society members.
Farmers are also happy that the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has been finally censured for having failed to discharge its mandated responsibilities in so far as the introduction of transgenic agriculture crops in India is concerned. “They ignored the farmers’ profile in India – that is 70 percent of them are small and marginal farmers, levels of mechanization, non-availability of irrigation facilities, cost-benefit analysis, the uncertainty of yield, loss to biodiversity and so forth.”
Meanwhile, Greenpeace India, too, hailed the report which comes at a time when the Union government is trying hard to introduce a new regulatory system for GM crops. “The standing committee 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. She added that that it is time the government gives priority to the welfare of its citizens over profit motivated seed companies.
Greenpeace demands the Indian government to take the panel’s recommendations seriously and act on them.

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