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Announcement :: Technology
URGENT: India and GM...petition
04 Jan 2007
URGENT: On 31st January 2007 there's a major hearing in the Supreme Court in India on the writ petition over GM crops.

The organisers of this petition want to be able to show that there's massive worldwide support for calling a halt to the problems being inflicted by GM crops on India. They can only do that with your support.


Also, post on other sites
URGENT: On 31st January 2007 there's a major hearing in the Supreme Court in India on the writ petition over GM crops.

The organisers of this petition want to be able to show that there's massive worldwide support for calling a halt to the problems being inflicted by GM crops on India. They can only do that with your support.


Items below

1.Tamil Nadu announces ban on Monsanto-Mahyco's Bt Cotton - orders compensation
2.The Bt Cotton Tragedy That Struck Tamil Nadu

1.Tamil Nadu announces ban on Monsanto-Mahyco's Bt Cotton - orders compensation
from Kavitha Kuruganti
Centre for Sustainable Agriculture

Dear Friends,

Please find below some news from Tamil Nadu, translated into english - this time, it is this South Indian state that has had to announce that Mahyco's Bt Cotton seeds will be prohibited from the state and that the company has to pay compensation to loss-incurring farmers. Fact Finding Teams are right now touring the districts from where the reports are coming from and these will be shared with you soon.

Many of you might be aware that the Agriculture Minister, Mr Veerapandi Arumugam, in the last Assembly Session [December 2006], had promised on the floor that the state government would try and bring in a legislation to ban GM crop field trials in Tamil Nadu.

For those of you interested in following up, the Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister's phone numbers are +91-94430-96969 & +91-98427-55811

For more information, contact Mr Arasu [ G.Thirunavukkarasu], Tamilnadu Organic Agriculturists Movement at )93-802-97522.


"Looks like we have to pluck our nose with this cotton…."

"Like the proverbial saying -- 'it has bitten the goat. Then bitten the cow... finally bitten the man himself' --- Bt has taken the lives of Andhra farmers, then the Maharastra farmers and now it is threatening our lives", tremble the fear-struck Dharmapuri farmers. The reason behind is the total failure of Bt cotton planted here this year. They had petitioned to the Collector asking for action against the seed company as the crop they had raised stands as trash.

Kantha Goundanur is 10 kms from Kadathur and is on the road from Kadathur to Puttirettipatti and adjacent to the rail track. Cotton grown in this area is known as KanthaGoundanur cotton and is highly popular. KanthaGoundanur and the adjacent villages like Sivanalli, Venkatathara Alli cultivate cotton as their main crop. Till last year the crop was a money spinner; but this year, the farmers are shedding blood from their eyes….

As we entered Kanthagoundanur, the villagers had collected around us and poured out their stories. Everyone is filled with sadness and dejection. "Look at my field. Out of ten plants, eight plants do not hold the bolls. Looking for the bolls, one only got numbed eyes. You plough, make ridges, plant, irrigate and take care of the crop – finally, one has to pluck his nose with this cotton only" says a farmer Manikkam.

Next was the turn of another Chakravarthy who narrated his experience in a sad and choked voice - "Lost. Lost. All are lost. We planted MRC 6918 seeds. We spent Rs.15000/= per acre. They had cheated us by giving useless and good for nothing seeds. Last Pongal I had stacked cotton in my whole house and was running short of space – I stacked part of the produce outside my house. This time the investment is lost. We purchased 450gm packs of this seed. Out of this only about 10 gm of seeds has flourished well. The rest is all standing up as sticks.

"The local dealer Jayaram had supplied the seeds from Mahyco Company of Maharastra. Last year, we got more than Rs.45,000/- per acre. The dealer had interviewed us and advertised that 'the seeds are high yielding'. This year we had purchased seeds from the same dealer. The yield is not good. Now the dealer is joking with us 'May be your plants are affected by chicken-gunya'. If a solution is not arrived at before Pongal, we do not have any means to cook food in our households", says Chakravarthy.

"In our area, about 4000 acres are affected. We have decide to go to the Consumers' Court. We have sent petitions to the authorities for taking action. But we are not sure whether our authorities will take action on the Mahyco company, which is a very big company", doubts Chakravarthy.

The narration of another farmer Chokalingam raises anxiety. "With the hope that this shall give a good harvest, I have pledged even the Mangalsutra of my wife and sowed in the soil. Finally it had ended like this. Saying that the seeds are gene changed, they have changed our lives. MY daughter is waiting to be married. Those who had lent money on the hope of Cotton yield are coming down heavily and when they abuse me biting their teeth, I feel like ending my life all at once. Some time back we heard that the goats which had grazed on BT cotton had perished. We do not know whether the news is true or false. But we fear that such a plight may happen to us". We intervened and uttered a few words of comfort to him. "If there is a problem with the seeds there will be action from the government side".

Then we proceeded to meet the dealer Jayaram. When we asked about the complaints made by the the farmers, the dealer said: "We had sold the seeds for Rs. 1600/= last year and the very seeds we had sold this year for a mere Rs.600/. Farmers are saying that we had reduced the price and reduced the quality also. The actual reason for reducing the price was to spread the BT seeds to all farmers. Bt cotton is not such a loss making crop as the farmers are making out. If the same crop is planted in the soil for 10 years continuously, then it creates some changes in the soil conditions. One should use crop rotation. Leaving behind all such factors, they are talking about gene modified seeds and there is some problem in that. Farmers are coming out with reasons of their own. We have written to the company enquiring about the reason for the failure and they had promised to come and investigate".

Then we met Mr. Duraisamy, Joint Director (Agriculture), Dharmapuri District and discussed with him about the problem. He said, "As soon as the matter had come to our knowledge we had informed the Scientists at Coimbatore Agriculture University. They had come to the site on the 22nd and inspected the seeds. Also they had conducted tests on the soil where the crops were planted. To get a better picture, they had taken the seeds with them. The results will be known very soon. We can talk only after getting the results".

The Dharmapuri District Collector Mr. Pankajkumar Bansal had received a petition from slogan-shouting farmers who had collected in front of his office and assured them: "I shall definitely take suitable action." When we discussed with him he opined: "Only after the investigation report, we can ascertain whose fault it is. If the fault is that of the seed company, action shall be taken on them after getting approval from the government". He said that very firmly.

There is already a countrywide uproar about the BT type seeds. Though the problem is not very much pronounced in Tamilnadu, farmers and NGOs in the state are up in arms against Bt seeds. When the incidence of Bt crop failure had come to Tamilnadu itself, they are very agitated about it.

In this context, T.S. Prabhuraja, President of NAAM said: "The demonstration was conducted at Collector's office under my leadership. The collector had ordered for immediate report on what type of failure had occurred and how many people were affected. The officials had collected all necessary information at lightning speed. They are now waiting for the test report. We have demanded a compensation of Rs.50000/=per acre".

"However mighty the concerned organizations may be, the officials have to act firmly ensuring justice to the affected farmers. ..Otherwise our struggle will be inevitable", the leader roared emotionally.

"Ban for Mahyco Seeds"

When we met the Tamilnadu Agriculture Minister Mr Veeera Pandi Arumugam and presented the plight of cotton farmers, the Minister stated: "What you are going to say had already been brought to my notice. The authorities had informed me that improper seeds only had caused all the problems. I had talked to the Chief Minister immediately and I had ordered that the said company should not sell any type of seeds in Tamilnadu. We had advised the company to pay compensation to the affected farmers. So the farmers need not be worried".

The minister further added, "we have formed a cell to safeguard the interests of farmers under the leadership of the Chief Minister. Experts from various sections of agriculture ministry shall be in the cell. They shall watch out for problems of farmers and keep submitting solutions for the problems. On the whole, our objective is there should not be any problem to the farmers".

- R Yoganathan, Junior Vikatan, 3/1/2007
- Translated by Mr G.Thirunavukkarasu, Tamilnadu Organic Agriculturists Movement

This work is in the public domain
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