Lok Satta

Thursday, 01 November 2012 13:48

Farmers' organizations to fight move to ban GM crop trials

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The Consortium of Indian Farmers' Associations (CIFA) and the Federation of Independent Farmers' Associations (FIFA) will be filing a petition in the Supreme Court opposing the recommendation of an expert panel appointed by it for a 10-year moratorium on genetically-modified crop trials.

Lok Satta Party National President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, who also heads FIFA, and CIFA Secretary General P. Chengal Reddy announced this at a media conference here today.

Dr. JP disclosed the Prime Minister had favorably responded to his suggestion that the Government of India should make out a strong case against the proposed move for a moratorium on GM crop trials.

Both the leaders maintained that the Supreme Court cannot arrogate to itself the right to take decisions that affect the livelihood and health of crores of farmers and consumers.

Dr. JP said it has become a fashion for certain groups to oppose technological progress. "Safety is a concern but it must be decided by qualified scientists and regulatory agencies by following due process; not by scare-mongering," observed Dr. JP.

"Feeding on fears and prejudices based on half-knowledge is dangerous to India's future. Technology must be accepted whole-heartedly after taking necessary precautions," Dr. JP said. There was fierce opposition when BT cotton was introduced for the first time nearly two decades ago. Today, BT cotton accounts for 97 percent of 30 million acres of cotton crop. The demand for BT cotton seed is so much that farmers have to buy it in the black market now. It was genetic modification of wheat by Dr. Norman Borlaug that has propelled the green revolution in India and around the world. Genetic modification of crops will lead to higher production and productivity and contribute to development of nutrient-enriched produce.

Dr. JP pointed out that a number of countries like the U. S., Brazil, China, South Africa and Australia have gone in for GM crops with no deleterious effects on their populations.

Mr. Chengal Reddy said that genetic crops are being raised in 160 million hectares in 29 countries. People around the world including those in India have been consuming GM food produce with no harmful consequences

The CIFA leader said that India cannot ensure food security to its people, higher incomes to farmers and compete with other nations in agriculture of the Supreme Court applies the brakes on GM crops. Raising GM crops is the fundamental right of farmers, he asserted.

Referring to charges made by India Against Corruption against Reliance, Dr. JP wanted the Government to ferret out facts and take action against the guilty. According to Reliance estimates, the production of natural gas from the Krishna-Godavari D6 block should have touched 120 million standard cubic meters per day (mscmd) by now whereas it has plummeted to 28 mscmd now. Reliance had either indulged in hype when it entered into exploration to boost its share price or decreased production now with a view to bargaining for a better price. In either case, Reliance's stance borders on criminality.

Dr. JP said the Government is entitled not only to fix the price of a natural resource like gas but also decide on priorities in its allocation in people's interests. "It is the duty of the Government to ensure that the price is fair, not exorbitant; otherwise our power and fertilizer industries will suffer grievously."

In reply to a question on the shifting of Mr. Jayapal Reddy from the Petroleum Ministry, Dr. JP said that the Prime Minister has the right to choose his Ministers. He should, however, ponder whether a crucial Ministry like Petroleum should be subjected to uncertainties through frequent changes. "Mr. Jaipal Reddy is known for his integrity and record of service. We need stability and competence in key sectors, not frequent changes," Dr. JP said.

Referring to the movie 'Denikaina Ready' which has drawn protests from the Brahmin community, Dr. JP appealed to movie makers and media not to hurt feelings of any caste or religion, region or language. They should use their influence to promote harmony in a diverse country like India.

Lok Satta leaders P.Bhaskara Rao and K. Gita Murthy took part in the media meet.