domingo, abril 11, 2010

International groups mark 50 as last year of IRRI, call for its abolition

April 10, 2010


International groups mark 50 as last year of IRRI, call for its abolition

The Year of Rice Action (YORA) 2009 – 2010, the international campaign composed of countries such as Philippines, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, Laos PDR, Cambodia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Pakistan vowed anew to protect bio-diversed traditional and indigenous varieties of rice against the genetically-engineered promoted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and agro-chemical TNCs such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences and BASF. The group also marked 50 as the last year of IRRI and called for its permanent abolition or dismantling, not simply a transfer out of the Philippines.

YORA is campaigned by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Pesticide Action Network – Asia-Pacific (PAN-AP), Resistance and Solidarity against Agro-chem TNCs (RESIST) of the Philippines, Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Alliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) in Indonesia, All Nepal Peasants Federation (ANPFa), Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum in India, and Vikalpani in Sri Lanka.

“IRRI had enough existence and opportunities of exploiting farmers globally. It should be abolished immediately if we want to save bio-diversity of rice varieties and preserve the lives and health of farmers who have been exposed to deadly agro-chemicals it promotes, alongwith giant agro-chem TNCs,” said Wilfredo Marbella, Deputy Secretary-General of Philippine-based Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

“Entrusted with the world’s rice germplasm, IRRI is currently revising its Intellectual Property Right (IPR) policy to enable some give and take with its new clientele – the corporates. Two questions arise immediately: how are these changes going to sit with IRRI’s public mandate? And what impact would this have on small farmers?,” said Shalini Bhutani of Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN).

“Its rice collection and the material it develops from it is IRRI’s biggest asset. At the heart of the redesign of its IPR policy is the question of how IRRI can raise financial resources from these materials? The business reality is that farmers’ material is industry’s raw material, and farmers themselves is the seed industry’s target market. So it makes sense for IRRI, in need of funding, and the private sector, wanting seeds to commercialise, and eager to take a greater piece of the potentially enormous rice seed market, to turn the situation around for their own benefit,” added Bhutani.

“All IRRI invented were the chain and shackles put to farmers, forcing them to use expensive and fatal agro-chemicals so that agro-chem TNCs could rake up super-profits,” added Marbella.

“IRRI should be held liable for the significant extinction of traditional rice varities across the world. While environmentalist are staking their lives to protect the environment and bio-diversity, IRRI, with all its multi-billion dollar funds, power and influence are consciously wiping-out natural genus of rice native to different countries. This is a ferocious crime against mother earth and against the future of mankind,” Erpan Faryadi of AGRA said.

“Pesticide poisonings (estimated at 25 million occurrences involving agricultural workers per year), environmental and health calamities, soil degradation and major pest outbreaks, such as brown plant hopper infestations, continue to haunt farming communities across Asia because of the increasing use of fertilizers and pesticides that IRRI’s modern rice varieties require,” remarked Clare Westwood of PAN AP.

The group vowed that they are to protest any promotion of genetically-modified varieties of IRRI and agro-chem TNCs. They have planned to march towards the office of IRRI at Los Baños, Laguna on April 12, where foreign delegates would be accompanied by hundreds of farmers from KMP Southern Tagalog regional chapter, KASAMA-TK. They will also hold a street conference at the gates of IRRI to further educate farmers of the ill-effects of agro-chemical farming methods.

KMP also said that it has pushed the use of traditional varieties developed by patriotic agriculturists from MASIPAG.

“Our regional chapters from Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, Panay, Southern Tagalog, Central and Northern Luzon are now using it. There would come a time that we would isolate the varieties that originated from IRRI and Filipino farmers would be free from the use of expensive and deadly agro-chemicals,” said Marbella.

The group said that the a world without IRRI is a world free of monopoly over rice varieties and deaths and diseases caused by agro-chemicals they promote. Foreign and local delegates continued to shout “50 years of IRRI is enough! IRRI should close down now!” #

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