The militant Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and Tamil Nadu Women's Forum (TNWF) joins the call for "GM Free India". In a joint statement, APC and TNWF says, "Demonstrations in India had spread all over to protest the use of genetically modified crops in the country. We demand that the GM technology be banned as it was against the Indian farmers' interest."
"Farmers' rights to seeds - to save, re-use and exchange - was taken away from us in the name of Intellectual Property Rights and patent rights. Further, GM technology causes adverse effects on our health and environment," said Fatima Burnad, APC Treasurer and TNWF Chairperson.
"Today, there are 41 GM food crops in India, 11 of which have reached open air trial phase which alarmed us most. Unfortunately, there are now 25 GM rice varieties according to the Ministry of Science & Technology," added Burnad.
"With this situation, India will suffer most if untested GM rice, such as the one being experimented by Bayer, will lead to serious contamination of other non-GM rice. To protect the Indian farmers the Ministry of Agriculture must protect rice fields from such GM field trials. The Indian government should stop this," said Danilo Ramos, APC Secretary General.
"We condemned the Indian government in collaborating with the Bayer and other agrochemical TNCs that are moving ahead with the GM rice crop field testing. This will put Indian rice in much danger. It will increase the TNCs control in Indian agriculture," stressed Ramos.
India is the 2nd largest producer of rice and 2nd largest exporter of rice in the world. It has more than 100 thousand varieties of rice of which 86,330 accessions have already been officially recorded in 2002.
Burnad, stated that, "our effort to protect our rice, our land, and our culture, we joined hundreds of thousands of people across Asia, we are holding exhibits, film showing, celebrations, rallies and forums for the People's Year of Rice Action (YORA) from 4 April 2009 to 4 April 2010 with the theme: Rice for for Life and Livelihood.
YORA will culminate on 4 April 2010 on International Rice Research Institute (IRRI')s 50th anniversary with the call: 50 Years of IRRI is Enough!
"Enough of IRRIs Green and Gene Revolution! Enough of Bayer and other agrochemical TNCs control in Asian agriculture. The truth is our food systems are in crisis, we are in deep poverty and hunger is rising across Asia. These GM technologies and modern varieties they are saying are clearly not the answer. We need food systems based on small farmers' control over land, seeds, water, and other productive resources," ended Ramos.
For more information, please contact: Tamil Nadu Women's Forum (TNWF) 76/37, G-1, 9th Street, 'Z' Block, Anna Nagar West, Chennai 600 040 Tamil Nadu, INDIA Tel: (91)044-52170702/ 52170703 Fax; (91)044-5217070