Greenpeace and Bharatiya Kisan Farmers Union unfurl a giant banner in a rice field 25 km from Lucknow, protesting against any genetically engineered rice field trials in the region.
In August 2006, traces of the
uncertified GE crop LL601, known as "
Liberty Link" and owned by biotech giant Bayer were found in US
rice supplies. 63 percent of US rice exports were affected, the
contamination spread to at least 30 countries, from Austria to
Ghana to United Arab Emirates. Major importers such as the EU and
closed their markets to US rice. Up to US $253 million was lost
from food product recalls, and future export losses could reach
Contamination came from field trials
What is particularly scary is that Liberty Link was never even
grown commercially. The contamination was the result of
experimental trials, which ended in 2001 - five years before the
contamination was discovered. In a desperate attempt to lessen the
damage after the scandal broke, the US government decided to
approve the rice strain. It didn't work; as the report shows, the
US rice industry is still reeling.
India, an even bigger rice exporter than the US, is the new
battleground for GE crops. The Indian government is preparing to
start field trials next month. Greenpeace urges them not to make
the same mistakes as the US, and to stop all plans for GE
experimental trials. Greenpeace India took action with the
Bharatiya Kisan Farmers Union today. They visited one of the 12
areas approved for GE rice trials, and with a giant banner reading
"Save our Rice" sent the Indian government a clear message.
As Greenpeace GE campaigner Doreen Stabinsky says: "There is
only one way for the rice industry to protect itself from another
billion dollar debacle and that is to prevent GE rice from ever
Bayer attempts to blame God
Hundreds of US farmers and European businesses have filed
lawsuits against Bayer in attempts to recoup their losses. Punitive
or statutory damages which may be awarded against Bayer may double
or even treble the final cost of the GE contamination incident.
Bayer's response to the disaster, which has destroyed the
livelihoods of thousands of people, from growers to producers to
sellers, was to
blame God. Seriously, they claimed that the contamination
scandal was probably caused by "an Act of God." Even by biotech
industry standards, this is beyond grotesque.
India, don’t make the same mistakes as the US
In India, the pro-GE government, its regulators and companies
such as Monsanto are preparing to start field trials of damaging GE
crops next month. The decision ignores the will of farmers and
traders and even the Indian Supreme court, which ruled in August
that no new field trial approvals could happen until a full court
hearing takes place.
The decision also threatens the Indian basmati rice industry,
which is committed to remaining GE free. Many of the planned GE
field trials will take place right next to where basmati is grown,
and as genes do not understand political boundaries basmati and
non-basmati rice types will face serious danger of
If their rice gets contaminated, it is Indian farmers, traders
and millers whose livelihoods could be destroyed. India and the
rest of the world must learn the lessons from the US disaster. The
only way to ensure crops are safe from contamination is to ensure
that GE crops do not exist at all.
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