GM food protests: activists released after twelve hours

Greenpeace opposes Sharad Pawar, says GM food will not provide food security

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Feature story - February 20, 2013
The Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has been pushing for genetically modified (GM) crops in India as an answer to food security for a while now. Greenpeace strongly rejects this one sided view and on February 20, 17 Greenpeace activists unfurled a massive banner saying, “Say no to GM, yes to food security” from the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) godown in Delhi. The banner even had a picture of Sharad Pawar and was installed high on the FCI godown by experienced climbers.

The FCI was set up to safeguard the interests of our farmers and to maintain sufficient stocks of food grains for our people so it’s only befitting that this protest against GM food took place at their godown. However, the police didn’t think so and when the activists unfolded the banner, they stopped the activity. Subsequently, the peaceful protesters were taken to the Mayapuri police station and 12 of them were detained. They were released by the police after 12 hours and charged with trespassing

20 February 2013

Opposing the Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar's stance that GM food is the answer to food security for the country, Greenpeace carried out this protest at the FCI. © Sudhanshu Malhotra / Greenpeace.

 

Reacting to the police crackdown eminent social activist Aruna Roy said, “The Greenpeace activists peacefully protesting against the position taken by Union Agri Minister, Sharad Pawar have been illegally detained. This detention is one more in a series of actions taken by the State to suppress dissent. They were in fact protesting against the Minister's attempt to trivialise the issue of food security by asserting that the controversial GM technology would in fact offer security of food production. The Minister's support for GM food crops is highly controversial and there is an on-going international debate on this issue. We condemn the detention and demand immediate release of the peaceful protestors.”

As the budget session starts on February 21 in parliament , this protest reiterates the fact that the future of food security lies in adopting a holistic view of food security with a focus on better food distribution systems rather than promoting false solutions like genetically modified (GM) crops.

20 February 2013

Greenpeace activist climbers lowered the banner from high up the FCI godown. It could be seen for miles. © Sudhanshu Malhotra / Greenpeace.

 

Neha Saigal, Campaigner, Greenpeace India says, “So far there has not been a single GM crop developed that increases yields in nearly two decades of their existence. Instead of forcing risky GM food down our throats, Pawar needs to address the fact that millions of tonnes of grains in storage facilities across India consistently fail to reach the people. As the environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan must take an unequivocal stand on GM crops.”

Greenpeace has initiated an online poll to garner public opinion, create awareness on the dangers of GM food and highlight the fact it is not a solution, in any degree, to food shortage in our country. To participate visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/What-We-Do/Sustainable-Agriculture/GE-campaign/no-genetic-modification/

20 February 2013

The activists were detained and taken to the police station. They were released later in the night. © Sudhanshu Malhotra / Greenpeace.

 

Echoing the views of the Parliamentary Committee, more than 150 scientists from across the country have written to the Minister of Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, expressing their objection to the Indian government promoting GM crops as a way forward for food security.  

Greenpeace urges the Minister of Environment and Forests, Natarajan, who is the decision maker on the environmental release of GMO’s to intervene so that the Ministry of Agriculture does not misdirect the debate on food security.

 

-Ignatius Thekaekara

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