Reject anti – Nature genetic engineering to ... - MOFF - Home


Dec 11, 2012 (4 years and 8 months ago)




Vikram Bokey, Juli and Vivek Cariappa

Fellow Farmers and Consumers,

The Organic farming association of India has come together to give hope to those who
have survived the pain, ha
rdship, frustration and finally, hunger created by the Green
Revolution. We represent a nation
wide movement of farming families who have
chosen to ally themselves with those who believe that we can survive the present crisis
in the rural economy, indeed w
e can build a nation that thrives on its ecological
sustainability and agricultural wealth. But first let us take a backward glance, so that
our path forward will be that much clearer.


Many years ago when we used to practice traditional methods of farmin
g, our
communities were strong and healthy and free from debt. But the high input
chemical intensive systems of production which were promoted by our
government called the “Green Revolution”, destroyed the old methods of
farming. The Departments of Agric
ulture across the nation encouraged the use
of new pesticides, chemical fertilizers and hybrid seeds, in the name of high
productivity, and ignored the real needs of the farming community.


Over the past 20 years or so a few of us have been searching for a
lternatives as
we have seen our fields and our families suffer due to the Green Revolution.
Each of us have found unique ways to produce food safely and effectively,
building our soil fertility, protecting and selecting our seed varieties in order to
uce healthy food and a healthy environment for all of us in the animal
kingdom. We call ourselves organic farmers.


But the wide publicity given to the Green Revolution made many of our fellow
farmers change over to input intensive cash crops with the ho
pe of getting rich
quickly. As a result, they are growing flowers, sugarcane, prawns and other
cash crops. Those who have planted volatile crops such as vegetables, pulses
and cotton have incurred such heavy losses as to be driven to suicide. This is
e extent of the sorry state of affairs of the farming community.


In the name of bringing in and fostering the Green Revolution, Big business
companies have entered the agricultural sector even to the extent of lobbying to
change the land reforms act
for owning agricultural land. At the same time, the
Govt. is ever ready to blindly sign any agreement without the consensus of the
farming community, in order to avail foreign institutional loans and international
political gain. As a result the economy i
tself has fallen into the debt trap. Our
livelihood is being bartered to repay the national debt. Unless we make
important choices the future will be dark.


By signing the World Trade Agreement in 1993 (WTO agreement) our
government has agreed to remove
subsidies in agriculture and permit the import
of subsidized food and fiber from other countries. This is the process of
globalization which allows free trade between nations but threatens the
livelihood of our farming communities. Rich countries like the

USA and some
European nations no longer support their farming communities but instead treat
agriculture as an industry. Farming communities in these countries cannot
produce enough food to feed their people. Most food is grown by machines and
not by the skill and knowledge of human beings. Even if they
produce an excess of food crops, their land and environment is damaged. Their
seed varieties are few and do not grow well because they are weak from over
breeding and too much chemical applicati
on. This is the kind of food our
government wants to allow into India. It is cheap because it is heavily
subsidized. We will not be able to compete with imported food prices.


Strangely enough, while cheap food is being dumped on our markets, there is
big demand for Organic Food and Fiber in the rich nations. Their soils are not
able to support production of high quality organic produce so countries like
India are being encouraged to set up Organic Farming Policies to produce
Organic high quality foo
d for export to theses countries. Previous to this
demand for organic produce in the export sector, Organic farming was looked
down upon by the Government of India, as an unsustainable model for food
production, primarily because Organic Farming does not
required industrial
products. Of does not fuel industrial demand, rather it generates sustainability in
rural areas. Now that there is a demand for organic food the perception has
changed, but not for the India population, now the economic policy is to imp
cheap food and send the best food out of our country! It is strange that Organic
Agriculture is actually not a part of the Ministry of Agriculture but comes under
the Ministry of Commerce!


The fact is that Western countries have realized that industri
al agriculture is not
a good way to produce food. People in these countries want the choice of eating
food produced organically and not with chemicals because they are suffering
from many diseases related to the quality of food and the deterioration of th
environment they live in.


However, in contradiction to its policy on Organic Farming, the Indian
Government is supporting scientists and life sciences industries including our
own public funded universities to graft genes in the DNA of seeds and create

new types of seeds. This has been done without the consent of the farming
community. Such seeds are called Genetically Manipulated Organisms (GMO),
and this process is threatening society because of interference with the processes
of nature. We may not k
now the technical procedure of this tampering ut we
know what the integrity of life is, we know that to disturb it is very, very
dangerous. A great danger has thus befallen our traditions of culture and foods,
as well as our farming methods. For example, t
he gene of the pig has been
spliced to tomato seeds, and the gene of the rat has been spliced to paddy seed.
Similarly, at least 33 common food crop seeds have had their genes manipulated
by splicing on the genes of various animals. The BT seeds have had t
he gene of
a soil bacteria spliced into seeds. Even though this may sound strange or
unbelievable, it is nonetheless true. The BT cotton seeds are the ones that have
been most widely commercialized in our country; Mahyco and Monsanto, the
companies which a
re profiting from this technology (due to the Patent Regime
agreed to under the WTO) claim that crop yields will increase while there will a
reduction in pesticide use. Field trials have proved that this is actually untrue.


The fact is that besides the da
ngers of the GM technology itself applied to all
types of unnatural configurations, the organic farming community fears that use
of BT will eventually create a serious imbalance in the relationship between soil
bacteria and soil life which cannot be undone


Many organic farmers warned that the use of BT seeds and other GM seeds
would have a devastating effect particularly on the small and marginal Indian
farming community: after 15 years of use of BT cotton (Boll guard), the truth is
finally being reveal
ed. In Andhra Pradesh 60
70 % of the crop failed last year.
The companies promoting this technology have made big profits by charging Rs.
1,850 per seed packer, of which Rs. 1,200 alone is a royalty going to the
company. The Government of Andhra Pradesh h
as blacklisted the company and
demanded compensation to the farmers, which the company has refused to
comply with. It is difficult to understand why the Government has wanted to
commercialise BT cotton when this variety is being imported into India at 60
of the cost of production. In such an unfair and lopsided trade agreement, it is
impossible for us to compete. We would be much better off growing organic
long staple cottons.


It is important to understand two critical aspects of GM crops.



the CEO of Monsanto research wing has stated, users of BT seeds
need to use their neighbors’ crops of Chickpea, Tuar, Tomato and
Sorghum (all crops grown by small and marginal farmers) as refuge
areas for their crops. A GM crops must be protected by Non

GM crops
around it to be effective. In this refuge area it is likely that the use of
pesticides will go up and create a further spiral of debt for the most
economically vulnerable farmers, besides exposing them to some of the
highest levels of toxicity in
agriculture anywhere in the world! The
social implications of this will have a terrible effect on our communities
where big farmers will use the small farmers fields with intent to harm.


The GM technology is designed for industrial farming and will take
way our age
old rights to keep seeds from a previous crop. Legal action
has been taken against farmers in other countries who have been found to
accidentally have a GM variety in their fields (as you know natural
pollination will take place among similar c


With the rising demand in organic food and fiber the Government has
put Indian organic produce, which has a high premium, at enormous risk
of being rejected due to GM contamination. Organic produce cannot
contain GM strains by law and yet BT cotto
n has been allowed to grow
in areas where certified organic crops also exist.
This is a direct
infringement of our constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights
as organic farmers.

In Madhya Pradesh the 2005
2006 organic cotton crop was contaminated wit
h BT and
rejected, proving clearly that due to our farming model, which cannot allow for refuge
areas of up to 5 km, GM crops are unsuitable and will ruin our potential as the worlds’
largest organic farming community. Surely that makes more economic sense

that the
devastation of our biodiversity and the obliteration of our farming communities?


Following are the ill
effects of GM crops on the lives of farmers, consumers and
the environment. :


Disturbing the balance of nature and the environment.


Since pest
icides not only kill insects which are harmful to crops but also
those which are essential to the growth of the crop, they will become
prey to disease, and yields will fall.


Instead of being health
giving, food from such crops will cause new
diseases. Also
, by the unnatural production of such harmful bacteria,
there is a strong possibility of new systemic disease occurring which
will alter the structure and relationship of soil and plants permanently.
No science and no mantra exists which will u do careles
s meddling with


From such crops, the gene can get transmitted and modify the gene of
neighboring crops (both indigenous and hybrid) of the same species
producing new “Monster” weeds, even worse than parthenium which
will add to the problems of farm


Theses seeds and crops and their complementary pesticides will
seriously effect the food chain and toxify the air and water. In Europe
and America the results of such seeds are already showing their effects:
This will further destabilize the village


Even if there is some benefit from GM technology, it will benefit only
big farmers and industrialists.


According to the World Trade Agreement, food from any country is
permitted to be sold in the free market. India has very ineffective
labeling l
aws so that GM foods, many of which are in now coming into
India as processed foods, are not clearly labeled as containing GM crops
which is unfair to the consumer, who has a right to this information. For
example : genetically modified soybean, corn, palm

oil, wheat etc.,
which have been banned in Europe and Japan, are being sold in countries
like India. The present parliamentary circular concerning food safety
norm is ridiculous. Instead of banning dangerous foods, which have been
brought under EU food sa
fety norms (GM food), under pressure form the
food processing industry, the Indian parliament is discussing

the local teashop, roadside dhaba and home
produced traditional foods!


Our government will carelessly throw away this window of opportunity
to move towards a truly sustainable and ecologically healthy nation
through organic farming, by allowing the commercialization of GM
crops and the irreversible release of the highly unstable, polluting fluid

Will our entire society be sacrificed on
the altar of the greed of a few and the
foolishness and false pride of some well
paid scientists who consider themselves
superior to nature? Or will we stand up and demand that Indian farmers, be
allowed to grow quality organic food and fiber for our growi
ng millions without the
fear of GM contamination? To build a strong nation, we need strong people. To be
determined and clear thinking, we need to stand together and make hard decisions.
We cannot play with nature. We cannot afford to let others play with


Now that we have taken stock of our present situation and how we got here let us
take a decision for the future to build a rurally sustainable India whose vitality lies
in her ecological biodiversity and centuries old agricultural wis