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Coimbatore farmers protest against field trials of genetically modified crops

By Super Admin

Coimbatore, Mar 17 (ANI): Farmers, including women wearing vegetable necklaces and capsicum earrings, took out a protest march against field trials of genetically modified crops in Coimbatore.

Farmers, along with Green Peace activists, who took part in the protest, said they would continue their protests till the permission for field trials were withdrawn.

"To condemn the genetically modified field trials, we, from various farmers fora of Tamil Nadu have joined hands to protest against these trials. Like many countries of the world, we strongly object to these trials and until these trials are stopped, we will continue our protest," said Vazhukuparai Baalu, president of Tamil Nadu Farmers Association.The protest was organised by 'Safe Food Alliance', a newly formed group of environmentalists.

Environmental activists opposing the move demanded an immediate halt to the field trials.

"There are more than 56 crops that have been genetically modified in India today. Most importantly rice and brinjal have been modified by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

They have decided to have agreements with multi-national corporations and they are doing free field trials in their own campus. We need to know why can't a government ban this in India?" asked Jai Krishna, an environmentalist.

Monsanto, the world's biggest seed company, has started field trials for genetically modified corn in India.

India allowed commercial cultivation of bacillus thuringiensis or Bt cotton in 2002, sparking off protests from activists who say genetically altered crops are a health hazard, spoil soil texture and harm the environment.

Most countries in Asia -- where governments are under pressure to boost food production to feed rising populations -- use conventional seeds for growing grains and yields are well below the output levels in U.S.

Increasing cotton output has encouraged government officials to support the technology which is seen as a viable step to feed the country's more than one billion population when farmland is shrinking rapidly due to industrialization and urban spread.

A committee of experts under the federal environment ministry has already allowed large-scale field trials of popular brinjal, the first genetically altered food crop to be tested. (ANI)

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