To Mr.Jairam Ramesh, Honourable Union Minister for Environment and Forest, Government of India. Now that only a few days are left for you to make a decision on the first GM crop Bt Brinja’ls fate in this country, we want to convey to you that the farmers of South India strongly reject it! We stand besides our states who have already taken the progressive stand to reject it. We want to assure you that we do not come here because we are emotional and irrational. Rather we come here because we transcend the regular currents of good and bad and only support what we see as the truth. Bt Brinjal, an unjust technology that we farmers have not chosen, need or want, it has not proven to be safe and has been approved under corruption. Therefore we reject it, whether you approve it or not. Below are some points we would like to stress on:
South Indian coordination committee of Farmers’ Movements (SICCFM) is a coalition of Farmers movements in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu working for development of agriculture, food sovereignty and rural development.
- India is in the midst of agrarian crisis and hunger crisis – nearly 2 lakh farmers have ended their lives.1 It has also been unfortunately noted that a 3rd of the hungry in the world are the food producers themselves. We need to focus our agriculture on feeding people and providing our majority small farmers dignified livelihoods in the countryside. Therefore the day calls for strengthening the food producers of our nation by giving them control over their means of production including seeds and land and not making them dependent on companies or expensive credit for these. Government needs to ensure that farmers own, safe and affordable technologies are given to them, not untested corporate technologies. Furthermore, it is the right of farmers to produce food, for themselves and for society. We therefore demand food sovereignty and not dependence on Monsanto-Mahyco.
- Noted and respected scientist Mr. Pushpa Bhargava himself has noted that less than 12 of the required 30 tests were carried out before giving Bt Brinjal the clearance.2 Furthermore, he has also said that clearance was given on account of great pressure from Monsanto –Mahyco.
- We absolutely condemn corporations interfering in the matters of such great public importance and governments’ collusion with them as was demonstrated by GEAC.
- Members of SICCFM- had public debates with scientists of Tamil Nadu Agriculture University and Dharward Agriculture universities on BT Brinjal. These Universities have failed to convince the farmers on the GM crops particularly BT Brinjal. The former Vice chancellor of TNAU Mr.Ramasamy asked farmers that why don’t we accept BT technology from Monsanto, where as we have accepted Nokia and other MNCs. This is not a scientific argument appreciated by farmers and consumers.
- Unfortunately the public media has wrongfully labelled all anti Bt brinjal voices farmers as anti- technology. We beg to clear this false assumption. Technology like Bt that is harmful cannot be allowed just because it is ‘technology’. We farmers have our own technologies and science, and we want the government to promote these. We have been successfully adopting technologies developed by our Agriculture universities and research stations. We reject this BT technology as it denies our choice of choosing the crop as a farmers and choice of choosing non BT food. And also this will contaminate our bio diversity.
- Our sister and brother farmers in the Bt Cotton belt have already proven to us that Bt cotton has not been successful. It has caused great debts and hunger and worst of all – suicides.
- We SICCFM strongly feel that the problem of solving the food crisis cannot be solved by the Multinational corporations like Monsanto- Mahyco. It can’t be a technical solution, but a political solution by empowering small and marginal peasants of the country.
Lastly, once Monsanto-Mahyco contaminates our brinjal, how can we hold them liable? Who will pay us compensations? Who will ensure the food security of our future generations? There is no mechanism in place to hold them responsible. Already most noted scientists, international conventions –CBD, Cartagena protocol and also the IAASTD show that GMOs are undesirable- not only in centres of origin (as India is for Brinjal) but also for solving hunger or solving poverty.
We therefore appeal the government of India not to introduce BT Brinjal and other GM crops.
Kodiahally Chandra Sekher Karnataka Rajya Ryotha Sanga (KRRS)
Kerala Coconut Farmers Association( KCFA)
Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi.
Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam.
Bhavani river water and ground water protection centre.