Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vidarbha Farmers urged Indian Parliament to Reject BRAI Bill

Vidarbha Farmers urged Indian Parliament to Reject  BRAI Bill
Nagpur -8th MAY 2013                     
Five million distressed debt trapped Vidarbha cotton farmers who are innocent victim to US GM technology in BT. cotton seed have urged all member of parliament to reject  UPA Govt.move  initiated by Indian Prime Minister to get parliament node 22 April, amidst the noise over the 2G Spectrum and Coal blocks scams, by introducing  in Parliament the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, 2013,Setting aside all concerns expressed by the 2004 Task Force on Agricultural Biotechnology, led by eminent scientist MS Swaminathan, the Bill is a hurried attempt to remove all possible obstacles in the promotion of the risky and controversial technology , President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) Kishor Tiwari has written letter requesting a total ban on GM seed in India  to save lives of the poor farmers in the region.
It is recalled to all MPs  about recent Maharashtra agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil's admission that the genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton had brought no benefits to the farmers but on the other hand seed companies were thriving on it, hence  time has come to at least stop the introduction of GM seeds in food crops.

Last year the 35-member high power committee on agriculture, led by MP Basudeb Acharia, is visited two select villages - Bham Raja and Maregaon (Sonbardi) in the district of Yavatmal which farmer suicide epicenter of vidarbha and interacted with the farmers there. Their visit was aimed to look into the problems encountered by the farmers which push them towards committing suicide and role of BT. cotton seed and parliament admitted the failure of BT. cotton seed affecting around 5 million people in Maharashtra depend on cotton cultivation that is done in 41 lakh hectares. Now, the state government has finally admitted that Bt cotton is adding to farmers' distress even as 95% of them are using the GM seeds. The question now is who will bell the cat? Is there no way to stop the onslaught of GM seeds as , the BRAI Bill is a precursor to the Monsanto Protection Act in the US. While the US government has removed all regulatory hurdles in the promotion of GM crops, the BRAI Bill too makes the task much easier for biotech firms by providing a single-window, fast-track clearance for GM crops If made into law, BRAI will make it easier to introduce GM seed in food crops too. This may result in more farmer suicides in other regions too, Tiwari warned.

"Till around 1970, Vidarbha farmers cultivated cotton using seeds from their own plants. With the introduction of hybrid seeds, the yields increased but so did the need for costly fertilizers and insecticides. Agriculturists have also blamed the restrictions and royalties placed on GM seeds by multinational companies for the spurt in suicides. Unlike traditional seeds, GM seeds are non-renewable and must be purchased every year. Today, they dominate the market, the BRAI Bill provides biotechnology companies with unlimited powers to tamper with your food, health and environment. In the end, the decision is ours whether you would like the government and the GM firms to decide what you eat , providing a strong and legally-tight protective shield to biotechnology companies." said Tiwari.

In India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has been aggressively pushing for the use of GM crops in the name of food security. When the environment ministry questioned the veracity of scientific claims, and imposed in 2010 a moratorium on the genetically engineered food crop  Bt Brinjal and the GM industry was pushed on the back foot. Adding to its woes was the 2012 report of the Standing Parliamentary Committee, which found “biotechnology regulation to be too small a focus on the vast canvas of biodiversity, environment, human and livestock health and therefore recommended an all-encompassing Biosafety Authority” Tiwari added in letter to MPs  .

Tiwari pointed out that though the seed manufacturing and marketing companies have been claiming high yield through GM cotton seed through false propaganda. But the reality is a total contrast. The agrarian crisis has worsened following total failure of GM cotton seed in the rain-fed region of Vidarbha, appeal to MPs added.

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