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Citizens launch campagn for GMO free zones

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 23 (UNI) Citizens groups in India today joined the worldwide campaign against genetically modified (GM) seeds which they said was being pushed into the country through the recently finalised India-US 'knowledge initiative in agriculture'.

While they have declared April 8 as the day of freedom from GMOs around the world, they will launch a boycott on Bt cotton from May 10 to start from Vidharbha and spread to all those regions experiencing farm crisis.

''The 'knowledge initiative' focuses entirely on genetic engineering, neglecting the more nature friendly systems of agro-ecology and organic farming and is anti-knowledge and anti-farming,'' said Dr Vandana Shiva of Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE).

Organisations like RFSTE, Bharat Kisan Samaj, Organic Farming Association, Maharashtra, Sampark, Madhya Pradesh and Kethi Virasat, Punjab, have come together to support Gaia foundation of London and GM Freeze of the UK to launch a campaign for GMO free zones and people's knowledge initiative in agriculture.

Ram Kalaspukar of Organic Farming Association was visibly worried at the state of farmers in the cotton growing regions of Vidarbha.

''The rate of suicides is around five farmers per day. BT cotton has completely ruined them. The seeds were given to them by the name of research seeds. They did not know the fallout. Now the production has not increased, the crops are not disease resistant and future seeds cannot be produced,'' he said.

''The experience with Bt cotton has shown that farmers are getting trapped in a negative economy with high costs of production and low returns. Bt cotton farmers have lost Rs 700 per hectare on an average. For 0.5 million hectares planted in 2004, this amounts to losses of Rs 308 million,'' said Executive Director of Bharat Krishak Samaj, Dr Krishna Bir Chowdhury.

The steps that the groups have decided to take to carry forward the people's knowledge initiative include monitoring of the India-US Agreement, spread of knowledge on GMOs and their hazards to public health and environment, defend farmers rights to seed and food sovereignty, citizens rights to safe, healthy, nutritious, adequate, affordable and culturally appropriate food and spread awareness about hazards of junk food and industrially processed food which results in obesity and diabetes.

UNI ARB NK BD1949

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