Pakistan : Farmers demand ban on GM seeds

Lahore : Organic farmers from Asia and Europe assembled in the city for three days to discuss ways for promoting natural farming systems have demanded a complete ban on genetically modified (GM) seeds and introducing land reforms to end feudalism in Pakistan.

Attended by 20 delegates from 15 Asian and European states and over 40 delegates from different parts of the country represented several farmers organisations at the event held at a local hotel from Feb 6-8 on the theme of “Towards a just transition: Food sovereignty, post-extractivism and climate justice”.

It was organised by Asia Europe Peoples Forum in coordination with Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee and Crofter Foundation.

The moot recommended that the government must legislate to ensure implementation of UN charter on peasants and demanded trade union rights for peasants, landless peasantry and those living on agriculture income.

It called for basing policies on agro ecology and natural sustainable crop system, giving peasant women property rights and due share in agriculture land.

The conference wanted a complete ban on industrialisation and commercialisation of agriculture land, and sought inclusion of farmers in the policy-making process.

Seeking ban on power generation by coal, it demanded all natural resources under control of local communities.

The recommendations were also shared with parliamentarians, including PTI MNA Riaz Fatyana and PPP MPA Syed Hassan Murtaza.

Mr Fatyana, chairman of parliamentary committee on law and justice, promised to raise the issues in the National Assembly.

The participants also visited a natural sustainable crop system farm where wheat and various vegetables are being grown without the use of pesticides and fertilisers.

Former additional Inspector-General of Punjab police Chaudhry Tanvir Ahmad, who owned the farm, told the gathering that small farmers would benefit tremendously if they went back to nature and stopped using fertilisers and pesticides.

Asif Sharif, an agriculture expert, spoke about the exploitation of multi-national agriculture companies and said that farmers are better off without them.

Kissan Rabita Committee general secretary Farooq Tariq said for the first time a peasant organisation is able to motivate 20 international delegates to Lahore. He gave credit to visa relaxation that enabled many in Asia and Europe to join the moot.

Earlier, Lal Band performed at the inaugural ceremony with Faiz Ahmad Faiz poetry “Hum Dekhein Ghey”.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2020