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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Several Farmer Groups and consumer forums term the hurried granting of permission for GM Field trails as unwanted and unwarranted, requests CM to not permit them in the State

Several Farmer Groups and consumer forums term the hurried granting of permission for GM Field trails as unwanted and unwarranted, requests CM to not permit them in the State  
Chennai  20th July 2014 – Several farmer leaders, farmers, consumer forums and safe food activists have raised questions about the unnecessary haste shown by the GEAC in clearing 60 of the pending 70 applications for field trials of different genetically modified (GM) crops (rice, mustard, chickpea etc.) despite there being several questions from previous GEAC meetings that have not been answered.
The report of the approval for field trials by the GEAC coming close on the heels of the supposedly leaked IB report naming anti-GM activists, seems to be a well orchestrated move by the pro-GM corporate lobby work. “What is the need for such a hasty release just before the cropping seasons starts, particularly when so many states had earlier clearly indicated that they were not for conducting field trials?” asked the President of Tamil Nadu organic farmers Association Mr. Selvam from Erode.

“While agriculture is a State subject, this continued control of an unsafe technology such as GM crops by a centralized body such as GEAC is compromising the state interest and priorities”, said Mr. Vettavalam Manigandan, President of the Tamil Nadu Vivasaayigal Sangam. He also added that the honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had earlier made it very clear that she will not allow GM in Tamil Nadu and we hope she will reiterate that stand by opposing such forcible thrust of Field trials on the states.
 “The Supreme Court appointed Expert Committee had opined we don’t need this technology, so had the Standing Committee of the Parliament said that we don’t need this technology. Despite these the repeated succumbing of the government machinery to the corporate lobby groups indicates that nothing has changed between the priorities of the UPA and the NDA governments. This timing is also very questionable as the Supreme Court is about to pronounce its orders on the issue of GM crops, based on the recommendations of the Court’s Technical Expert Committee (TEC). The TEC majority report has strongly recommended a stopping of all open-air field trials. It was this Supreme Court case that was the reason why the former Environment Minister Ms Jayanti Natarajan had put approvals on hold, and pending 70 applications. Nothing substantive in terms of either the (lack of) safety of GMOs, nor the Supreme Court giving its verdict on the subject, has changed since then. The last time GEAC approved some GMOs for open air field testing, prominent BJP leaders had condemned the move”, said Mr. Ananthoo coordinator of the Safe Food Alliance, Chennai.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report on GM crops, first in 2012 and then in 2014, which had seven members from the BJP also, has strongly urged to stop all open air field trials “under any garb”. It is relevant to note that this is the first meeting of the GEAC since the new central government has come to power, and in this context it is imperative that Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change intervene in this matter and recall the decision to allow open air field trials.
“It is unfortunate that while the Bt Brinjal moratorium was issued after such a large scale consultative democratic process, the current rejuvenated GEAC seems to treat an issue of such sensitivity as a matter of bureaucratic routine, this is placing at grave threat our genetic diversity pool and our overall food safety for the future”, said Dr.G.Shivaraman of Poovulagin Nanbargal. He also added that “The Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report on GM crops, first in 2012 and then in 2014, which had seven members from the BJP also, has strongly urged to stop all open air field trials “under any garb”. It is relevant to note that this is the first meeting of the GEAC since the new central government has come to power, and in this context it is imperative that Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change intervene in this matter and recall the decision to allow open air field trials.”
“it is unfortunate that in a state with such a large diverse pool of traditional paddy reserve, the Madurai Kamaraj University has decided to pursue a GM Rice research and that too on popular white ponni, indicating a bankruptcy of intelligence” said Mr. Ram of the Tharcharbu Uzhavar Iyakkam terming the field trial permission as unwanted and unwarranted. He also added that many of the farmer unions and groups across Tamil Nadu were planning a protest across the state and also are writing directly to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the Central Minister of Environment and forests.
 Contact: Ananthoo 9444166779; Ram- 9444957781; Dr.Shivaraman- 9444027455

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