GMO-free news from India

2015-03-19 |

India: Thousands of farmers demonstrate in Delhi against GM crops, anti-farmer policies

Modi government targeted for “pushing for unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs in farming” - GMWatch Modi government targeted for “pushing for unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs in farming” - GMWatch

Thousands of farmers have taken to the streets in a Kisan Maha Panchayat (farmer meeting) in Delhi, India, in protest at the Modi government’s anti-farmer policies, which include uncritically promoting open field trials of GM crops.

There is some speculation in India that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition, led by Narendra Modi (now prime minister), may have come to power with the help of generous funding of their election campaign by the GMO lobby. It is said that this may explain their conversion to the pro-GMO cause.

Though there appears to be little transparency in political funding in India, we hope the Modi government will move to allay fears of corruption by publishing full details of its election campaign funding.

2015-03-08 |

BIODIVERSITY OR GMOS: Will the future of nutrition be in woman's hands or under corporate control?

Declaration for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2015 Declaration for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2015

Press Release International Women’s Day, 8th March 2015

Diverse Women for Diversity
Mahila Anna Swaraj
Initiative for Health , Equity and Society
Navdanya
Moms Across the World

BIODIVERSITY OR GMOS: WILL THE FUTURE OF NUTRITION BE IN WOMEN’S HANDS OR UNDER CORPORATE CONTROL?

Women have been the primary growers of food and nutrition throughout history, but today, food is being taken out of our hands and substituted for toxic commodities controlled by global corporations. Monoculture industrial farming has taken the quality, taste and nutrition out of our food. As a result, India is facing a nutritional crisis: every fourth Indian goes hungry, and in 2011 alone, diabetes took the lives of 1 million Indians. Globally, there is a disease epidemic because our food is nutritionally empty but full of toxics.

Now, the same companies who created the crisis are promising a miracle solution: GMOs. Genetically engineered Golden Rice and GMO Bananas are being proposed as solutions by corporations hiding behind the cloak of philanthropy as a solution to hunger and malnutrition in the Global South. But these are false miracles. Indigenous biodiverse varieties of food grown by women provide far more nutrition than the commodities produced by industrial agriculture. Golden Rice is 350% less efficient in providing Vit A than the biodiversity alternatives that women grow. GMO ‘iron-rich’ Bananas have 3000% less iron than turmeric and 2000% less iron than amchur (mango powder). Apart from being nutritionally empty, GMOs are part of an industrial system of agriculture that is destroying the planet, depleting our water sources, increasing green houses gases, and driving farmers into debt and suicide through a greater dependence on chemical inputs. Moreover, these corporate-led industrial monocultures are destroying biodiversity, and we are losing access to the food systems that have sustained us throughout time. When we consider the number of patents involved in these initiatives, it becomes all too clear that the only beneficiaries of these supposedly ‘people-led’ ventures are large companies operating for profit - not for people.

This needs to stop now. On this international women’s day, we call on all women – the world’s primary food-growers and food-givers – to stand together and join us in reclaiming our knowledge, our farming, and our food. To expose the lies generated by the GMO industry, to reject the false promises of Golden Rice and GMO Bananas, and to reclaim the planet for all living beings.

The alternative lies in women’s hands and minds
On International Women’s Day 8th March 2015, we the women of India and the world commit ourselves to reclaiming our seed, food, and knowledge sovereignty so that we can all enjoy healthy, safe, nutritious, tasty and diverse food. And through our food, we will reclaim our health and the health of the planet.

We will not allow a further degradation of our food systems and knowledge systems. We do not have to go down the road of replacing our biodiversity with GMO monocultures and our rich knowledge of food and nutrition with scientific and ethical fraud. We will not sacrifice our seed and food sovereignty for corporate control and profits.

2015-02-02 |

India: Maharashtra nod for Genetically Modified crop field trials

The Maharashtra government has given a “no objection certificate” for the field trial of five Genetically Modified (GM) crops brinjal, maize, rice, chickpea and cotton in the state.

2015-01-09 |

Organic Farming Points the Way to Sustainable Agriculture

Chart: Who Owns Organic? 2014 Chart: Who Owns Organic? 2014

NAGAPATNAM, India, Jan 7 2015 (IPS) - Standing amidst his lush green paddy fields in Nagapatnam, a coastal district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a farmer named Ramajayam remembers how a single wave changed his entire life.

The simple farmer was one of thousands whose agricultural lands were destroyed by the 2004 Asian tsunami, as massive volumes of saltwater and metre-high piles of sea slush inundated these fertile fields in the aftermath of the disaster.

(.....) “The general perception is that organic farming takes years to yield good results and revenue,” TOFarM’s Revathi told IPS.

“But during post-tsunami rehabilitation work, with data, we proved that in less than a year organic methods could yield better results than chemical farming. That TOFarM was invited to replicate this in Indonesia and Sri Lanka is proof that farms can be revived through sustainable practices even after disasters,” she added.

As early as 2006, farmers like Ramajayam, having planted a salt-resistant strain of rice known as kuzhivedichan, yielded a harvest within three months of the sowing season.

Together with restoration of some 2,000 ponds by TOFarM, farmers in Nagapatnam are confident that sustainable agriculture will stand the test of time, and whatever climate-related challenges are coming their way. The lush fields of Tamil Nadu’s coast stand as proof of their assertion.

2015-01-06 |

India: Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar Bats for GM Crop Trials

The Narendra Modi government is committed to going ahead with trials for genetically modified or GM crops and a decision on commercialization will be taken only after proper scientific evaluation, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has told NDTV.

2014-12-29 |

India: Govt set to import cotton seeds despite ban

The federal government is opening doors for introducing various varieties of cotton seeds produced by foreign firms despite a ban on their import.

2014-12-16 |

Seeds of Truth: Vandana Shiva and the New Yorker

A response to the article ‘Seeds of Doubt’ by Michael Specter in The New Yorker.

2014-12-02 |

India: Govt may ignore pressure and back GM-crop field trials

Certain states may have reservations against Genetically Modified (GM) crops, but the Centre has backed field trials of such varieties in "national interest" and even asked investors to look at the potential of transgenic seeds-driven business opportunities in India.

2014-11-27 |

India: No ban on GM crop field trials, says envi minister Javadekar

There is no ban on GM crop field trials either by the government or the Supreme Court, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday.

2014-11-24 |

Rising suicide rate for Indian farmers blamed on GMO seeds

Corporate cotton Corporate cotton

Monsanto, which has just paid out $2.4 million to US farmers, settling one of many lawsuits it’s been involved in worldwide, is also facing accusations that its seeds are to blame for a spike in suicides by India farmers.

The accusations have not transformed into legal action so far, but criticism of Monsanto has been mounting, blaming the giant company for contributing to over 290,000 suicides by Indian farmers over the last 20 years.

The author of a documentary on Indian farmers’ suicides, Alakananda Nag, who has interviewed dozens of the relatives of those who have taken their lives, links the rise in the suicide rate to the use of GMO seeds. She believes small farms are particularly vulnerable.

“The large farms certainly have the funds to support themselves and get on, but the smaller ones are really ones that suffer the most,” Nag told RT. “Monsanto definitely has a very big hand to play. A few years ago it was illegal to grow GMO crops in India. It’s not like the suicide did not exist back then. It did, but I think there was definitely a sharp rise in the [suicide] numbers once [GMOs] were allowed.”

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice has estimated that in 2009 alone 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide, or one suicide every 30 minutes.

Farmers’ widows, such as Savithri Devi from India’s southern state of Telangana, explain just how tough things can get for those trying to grow enough crops to earn a living.

“[My husband] initially put a bore well, then started cultivation, but we didn’t get enough water from the bore well and there were no rains, too,” Devi told RT. “So he again tried to deepen the bore well, but it didn’t work. So he borrowed money. His depression eventually led him to committing suicide. He drank pesticide and died.”

The legalization of GMO in 2002 has only added to the stress experienced by Indian farmers, according to the head of the Council for Responsible Genetics, Sheldon Krimsky.

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