Greenpeace, as part of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture [ASHA], marked 9th August 2011 as the national day of action against corporate control of our food and farming.
According to Kapil Mishra, Agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace India, “There is a visible public opposition against genetically modified crops and companies like Monsanto who are trying to take control of our agriculture and food through such risky technologies. Urban citizens’ joining this struggle against GM crops and multinational seed companies is a significant achievement for this movement which has largely been a rural farmers’ issue. This is visible from the fact that besides thousands of farmers across the country, urban citizens from more than 12 cities across the country joined this national day of action.”
GM crops have been in a controversy ever since the introduction of Bt cotton, the only GM crop commercially cultivated in India, owing to their impacts on health, environment and socio-economic fabric of this country. Bt brinjal, the first food crop to have reached the commercialisation stage, was put under an indefinite moratorium last year due to the above concerns being raised by farmers, consumers, sections of the scientific community and civil society groups.
“Genetically modified food is simply not acceptable to us,” said Wing commander [Rtd] Jasbir Chadda, the General Secretary of URJA, the confederation of Resident Welfare Associations of Delhi, who joined the candle light vigil. He further stated that, “One fails to understand why our government is on the side of corporates that are promoting these technologies for their own benefit. Delhiites will join any people’s movement to ensure safety of our food from dangerous technologies like Genetic modification.”
While Bt brinjal is still under moratorium, government has been giving permissions for numerous open air experiments of various GM food crops which is feared to contaminate the regular crops around the trial location and thereby the food supply. Public fears around GM crops have also heightened due to the proposal for a new regulatory authority called Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India [BRAI], the bill which is supposed to be tabled in the current session of Parliament. Earlier leaked versions of the bill in the media in the past, show that it eases down the approval process and even overrides the right to information act to create a centralised single window clearance system for GM crops.
Calling BRAI a ploy by the government to circumvent the current visible opposition to GM crops in the country, the gathered public took a pledge to fight against any such legislation that would subjugate the food and farming of our country to multinational seed companies like Monsanto.
Kapil Mishra, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace India –
Pari Trivedi, Media Officer, Greenpeace India – ,