PRESS RELEASE: NATIONAL FARMERS COORDINATION CAUTIONS AGAINST COMMERCIALIZATION OF GM MUSTARD
FEBRUARY 2, 2016
The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements demands the GEAC committee to say “no” to the commericalization of GM Mustard.
We are a network of farmers movements that is committed to dignity and self-respect for farmers, and many of our members are in the international peasants’ movement La Via Campesina. We represent thousands of villages in India and hundreds of thousands of farming families. Our member movements, such as Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, have taken staunch action against the giant enemies of farmers since it’s founding in the 1980s (For example Operation Cremate Monsanto in 1993, which created an international fervor). We have, and continue to, reject the so-called benefits of GMOs to our farmers, environment, and citizens.
Last March 2014 we occupied the home of Union Minister Veerappa Moily after he gave a sweeping approval to GM trials, and we continue this fight even under the new government; we will not hesitate to take to the streets to make stand that GM is a dangerous bargain known to the world. We urge you to stop the commercialization of GM Mustard, and annul the clearance of all remaining GM crops for field trials.
Genetically modified crops are a threat to the livelihoods of the farmers of the nation; one threat among many, in truth. The proliferation of GM crops will transfer the ecological wealth that farmers conserve and protect to the bank accounts of profit-hungry corporate interests. The privatization of seed further and the property rights associated with Genetically Modification Organisms is a dangerous weapon against farmers who can be sued by corporations for “infractions” and a push towards acute economic distress. It is also an affront on the sovereignty of our nation and our right to control our own biological diversity.
Regarding GM mustard, and other oil seeds, after the Rajiv Gandhi Oil Seed Mission, you may recall that India was nearly self sufficient in oil seeds. Only after that, in 1994, when cheap oil imports began after liberalization, the local market was crushed and our self sufficiency was eroded. Now, proponents of GM Mustard claim that it will increase yield and reduce our imports! We urge you to address the root cause of the issues, asymmetrical and harmful trade agreements and the project of neoliberalisation, than stick to the ‘growth for growth’s sake’ propaganda that helps line the MNC’s pockets with profits.
However, we are not just concerned about the wellbeing of oil seed. We are concerned about the environment, which affects farmers, consumers, and other agricultural producers and the urban poor alike. GM crops are designed to be grown in a mono-culture, chemical input-intensive, large scale manner. Industrial agricultural is environmental suicide. This is not an exaggeration – more than 50% of greenhouse gases are produced through this unsustainable, illogical, and corporate-driven system. Climate change is real, and it is has already started. Conflicts such as the war in Syria can be traced to climate-related migration. If we do not halt climate change we will not only see the destruction of our planet but the destruction of global harmony as we know it.
This is why we take action to promote small scale farming, as a solution to climate change and as a necessary ingredient to a self-sustaining and resilient India. Agriculture is more than just an industry whose profits can be maximized and its costs reduced: it is a way of life, a social structure, a collaboration with nature, and, first and foremost, the only method for us to feed ourselves. We promote peasant agroecology by saving our local seeds, strengthening our local economies and carrying for our unique ecological systems. We defend our seed sovereignty as an essential piece here: seed is patrimony, developed by generations of farmers through their intellectual labour. All the varieties of mustard that we have today have been developed by women and men farmers over generations. India is a Center for Diversity for mustard, and perhaps even a center of origin. 12,755 accessions of rapeseed mustard are available in India according to Directorate of Rapeseed Mustard Research of Indian Council of Agriculture Research . Introducing GM Mustard is a threat to this biodiversity as farmers increase market dependency and stop saving seed.
The food supply being contaminated by GM crops is a risk we farmers are not willing to take. Long-term, independent studies to verify the safety of GM crops have not been completed. The studies which exist were completed by the corporations themselves: how can the sick man be his own doctor? In countries such as the United States, citizens are unaware that 90% of their food is genetically modified and are rushing to get it labeled. Corporations are blocking them. Citizens want to know if their food is safe. Why are the corporations so scared if they have nothing to hide? India can go one step further by stopping the invasion of GM crops before it is too late. Before we are another example of a country who jumped on the “technology” wagon without realizing it was a doomed journey.
GM crops are an unproven technology, which has not stood the test of scientific rigor. They are an unnecessary addition of pressure into a system that is already squeezing the farmer dry. And they are an unchangeable relinquishment of national sovereignty to corporate interests that will threaten our food supply and our ability to control our own food chain. In short, the case for GM crops is weak, though the vested interests are strong.
We are shocked to see BJP deviating from its Manifesto
 and its National Executive’s Resolution on Agriculture that condemned GM crops and clearly demands moratorium on it and following the path of its predecessor in betraying the interests of farmers. We hope that you stand for what you promised us and demonstrate the self-respect that we demand of our state’s farmers.
We urge you to take these points into consideration, to stop the commercialization of GM Mustard and to annul the approval of all GM field trials. In doing so you avoid the irreparable damage that GMOs will cause to our food sovereignty.
Rakesh Tikait, BKU U.P
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, State President, BKU Punjab,
KS Puttanaiah, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha,Karnataka
Chamarasa Patil, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha,Karnataka
S Kannaiyan, South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
Tanmay Joshi, South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
CK Janu, Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha