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Indian farmers call for transgenic crop moratorium

(June 19, 2001 -- CropChoice news) -- PRESS RELEASE FROM KRRS - THE KERALA STATE FARMERS UNION, INDIA [KRRS Represents Ten Million Farmers in the State of Kerala].

EXTRACT: "farmers' organisations across the country would resort to direct action if the seeds were allowed to be sold in the shops. Already the National Coordination Committee, which included Bharatiya Kissan Union, would be launching the agitation"

Bangalore, June 18(UNI) The Union Government should declare at least a five-year moratorium on the genetically modified seeds in India till a ban was considered like many other countries, Karnataka Rajya Ryota Sangha(KRRS) President M.D.Nanjundaswamy demanded today.

Taking strong exception to the Union Government rushing through the procedure of giving permission for marketing BT(Bacillus Thuringiensis) Cotton, he told UNI that Union Environment Minister T.R.Balu had called a meeting in New Delhi today, almost a month in advance, to accord biosafety clearance to the BT cotton. The Union Agriculture Ministry was meeting tomorrow to give the clearance for the cotton. The Government is in a hurry to give clearance to enable the multi-national companies to introduce the seeds from this sowing season itself, he charged.

Pointing out that most of the advanced and developing nations had banned genetically engineered crops, he said the Government should follow the precautionary principle of the biosafety protocol it signed last year in Cartagena in Columbia. If the Government allowed the sale, it would be violating the protocol, which says that if there were scientific uncertainties, they should not be released commercially.

Besides, a petition filed by noted environmentalist Vandana Shiva on genetically modified organisms with particular emphasis on BT cotton was still pending before the Supreme Court. Morally, the Government should wait till the petition is disposed of. Legally, it may not because there was no stay, Prof.Nanjundaswamy, who was spearheading a campaign against genetically modified seeds and crops said.

Quoting statistics, he said the worldwide sales of genetically modified foods were on the decline.

He claimed that Shiv Sena had agreed to join their struggle against the genetically modified seeds. I have already held discussions with Sena supremo Bal Thakrey and the response was positive, he said and stressed that Maharashtra was one of the major Cotton growing states in the country.

He said the farmers' organisations across the country would resort to the direct action if the seeds were allowed to be sold in the shops. Already the National Coordination Committee, which included Bharatiya Kissan Union, would be launching the agitation, he added.

He pointed out that over 310 scientists from 36 countries had expressed their concern about the hazards of genetically modified organisms to biodiversity, food safety, human and animal health and demanded a moratorium by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development Conference on Sustainable Development, Conference on Sustainable Agriculture on Environmental releases in accordance with the precautionary principle.

Karnataka Rajya Ryota Sangha
[Karnataka State Farmer's Association]
2111,7th-A Cross,3rd Main,
Vijayanagar 2nd Stage
Bangalore-560 040-India