Saturday, April 4, 2009

Conference resolutions

Conference of Tamil Nadu Farmers Associations against genetic engineering in Agriculture.

The Conference was the final event of the series of Anti GM activities carried in Coimbatore since early February. Street plays in Colleges and in the villages, signature campaign demanding ban on GM crops and food, a large protest rally (March 16th) have been happening since later February.

Conference of All Farmers Association Leaders of Tamil nadu was convened by SFA on 3rd of April in which almost all the prominent farmers association’s leaders were presented and took active role in the discussions. Before the intense discussion Jai Krishna of Greenpeace, Selvam of Organic Farmers Federation, Jacob Nellithanam of Richarria Campaign had briefed the various aspects of GM research, present scenario of international, national level agitations, farmer’s plight, IPR and Indo-US Knowledge Initiative Agreement.

Shri. Md.Idris, Consumer Association of Penang, Ms.Kavitha of GM free India had sent their messages and wished the conference and the leaders. Navdanya, Delhi had sent Bt.Brinjal hand outs for farmer leader’s benefit.

The conference expressed its solidarity and its concern on the health of Edita and Danuta who are in a hunger strike demanding a ban on GM crops in Poland braving the chilling weather of 1° C and the supporters Jadwiga , Anna Bednarek, farmer and engineer who had jumped in the strike as support.

Excerpts from the addresses of representatives of various Farmer associations
Dr.Sivasamy, President of Thamizhaga Vivasayeegal Sangam (Tamil nadu Farmers association), in his inaugural address said that the origin of man from micro organisms is the product of evolution and synergy of various natural orders. Genetic Engineering is disturbing and destroying this synergy. Earlier we all farmed with good seeds but in the name of Green Revolution all of them were destroyed. Now GM seeds are coming to destroy completely.

Delay by every minute in destroying the GM crops means we are inviting more and more irreparable damage to our world. Like any poison the toxins from GM crops too damage the alimentary system, circulatory system, Spleen, Liver, lungs, etc.

The scientists who have advocated and promoted Green Revolution are now advocating Organic ways of farming. They should be put behind bars for this kind of double talking and backtracking.

The world’s worst institution is the government of America. The more we get closer to the American policies, the more we are making ourselves slaves. We should get free from this trap.
Getting a Ban on GM crops and food should be our first priority among the various issues that we have. Governments, MNCs and scientists all have joined together in forcing the GM crops on us.

It is not easy to fight against the companies like Monsanto individually. We all should be united to fight GM crops. Though we have many differences among ourselves we must put up a united fight against GM crops.

Dr.Markandan, Former Vice Chancellor of Gandhi Gram University, in his felicitation address said that the Government too is against the people. The universities should help the farmers in producing their own seeds instead of supporting the companies to produce sterile seeds.

GM means economic slavery, will put farmers permanently under the domination of Corporates. Who will be responsible and accountable if the GM technology and crops went wrong and play havoc?, he questioned.

Mr.Vellaiyan, President of Tamil Nadu Vanighar Sangangalin Peravai in his address narrated how he answered the fellow trader’s association leaders questioning him why traders should take part in farmer’s issues. “I convinced them and made to realise that 70% of the people in India are dependent of farming. With the entry of MNCs in farming means that the farmers will be thrown out of farming. If farming is affected then the economic loss of this will reach traders in no time. And the direct impact of this economic loss will be on small traders.”

The imperialistic forces are trying to enter in the retail trade to capture and destroy the small traders by monopolizing the retail trade. GM is also in the line to monopolies the farming and food, to destroy the seeds rule over the farmers and sovereignty of the nation. He appealed the farmer’s association leaders that the farmers should join their hands in fighting the entry of multi national giants in the retail trade.

Any government that comes to the power in May should come out of WTO. WTO had done nothing to us. Our growth is not due to WTO. The development of Indian science and technology is not due WTO but due to the isolation and blockade imposed by the same forces on us. Let us not forget that we had sent satellite to moon not because of WTO. The WTO is to ruin our S&T only.

During this election we all should be united to win over our demands and should extract promises from the political parties.

Mr.A.M.Raja, President of CIFA, Tamil Nadu State Wing in his address said that the problems of GM is not just with one crop or yield but goes much beyond that. It had crossed every boundary of various civil societies’ circles. The scientists are not telling the truth. They have become the mouth piece of the companies.
Last year the Vice Chancellor of TNAU said, “I personally had tasted Bt.Brinjal and it was so tastier than other varieties.” When questioned in a different forum, he admitted that he had not tasted it. All are lying to us. Now at this present election every one of our votes should prove who we are. 2011 is not too far. (Here he is referring the State Assembly election in 2011).

Let us strengthen our vote bank. Let us prepare the farmers to show their feelings and strength in a united manner.

The government and the universities are working for the welfare of the companies and not for the people. They are no more for the welfare of the people.

In this election time we should get commitment from every political party on this issue.

Mr.N.S.Palanisamy, President of Tamil Nadu farmers association (non political) during his speech said that the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University should work for the farmers benefits and work farmers’ need based research. Unfortunately the TNAU is going in the other direction.

The University should priority for traditional, chemical free farming ways. If it failed the government should direct the university to do so.

Mr.Sakthivel, Vazhuukku Parai Balu, Mr.Nallasamy, Thiru Navukkarasu, Thulasimani, Ila. Ka. Sadagopan, Mr.Kannaian have also shared their view and echoed similar sentiments.
1). The government of Tamil Nadu should declare Tamil Nadu as a state free of GM crops or food to protect the farming, farmers, people, and the fertile soil. All Field trials of the GM crops be stopped and banned. No GM research should be permitted by state agricultural universities in collaboration with Private Companies.

2). To protect the sovereignty of the nation, to provide Safe Food for all priorities be given to development plans and research on Traditional farming methods, Saving the traditional seeds of the Nation. Tamil Nadu should stop doing researches benefiting the corporates including the Monsanto. Instead it should direct the research for the need and benefit of farmers.

3). The Farmers Associations will launch a massive protest in front of the Tamil nadu agricultural University and stop the research that are not in tune with the traditional farming (this includes Organic and Natural farming).

4).The TNAU in its press release saying that 80% of the Corn yield is lost due to the pest and weeds problems and also said that GM crops are absolutely safe. These statements are farcical. The conference severely condemns the TNAU for this kind of false statements.

5). The Leaders of farmers association request every political party in the state and the central to make open statement or declare in their Election Manifesto that they will ban or support banning of GM crops and food in the state and India as well.

6).The central government should pay a compensation of 10 lakh rupees to the families of all those who had committed suicide due the failure of Bt.Cotton.

7).The conference resolved that during this Parliament election the farmers association will join their hands with the Traders Federation and other like minded organizations to campaign for a ban on GM crops and Food and to oppose the entry of MNCs in retail trade.

8). The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University should call for a public hearing and provide information of all the research done on Gm crops.

9). The Government of India should terminate the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative Agreement signed with the US.

10). If the TNAU fails to destroy the hazardous GM maize trial immediately, before the end of the trial period, the conference warns that the farmers associations in association with Traders federation, Green movements and SFA will launch a massive protest rally and agitate in front of TNAU.
Representatives of organizations adopting the resolutions of the Conference.

1) Dr.M.R.Sivasamy, President of Thamizhaga Vivasayeegal Sangam ( Tamil Nadu Farmers association)
2) Dr. Na. Markandan, Former Vice Chancellor of Gandhi Gram rural university
3) T.Vellaiyan, President, Tamil Nadu Vanighar Sangangalin Perava
4) Ila.Ka. Sadagopan, Tamil nadu Farmers Movement. ( Thamizhaga Uzhavar Perriakkam).
5) Mr.C.M. Thulasi Mani, Vice President, Tamil nadu Vivasayeegal Sangam, (affiliated to the Communist Party of India).
6) Mr.N.S.Palanisamy , President of Tamil nadu farmers association ( non political).
7) Mr. S.Nallusamy, Keezh Bhavani Farmers’ Association. (Lower Bhavani Project Farmers Association).
8) A.M.Raja, President, Confedration Of Indian Farmers Association.
9) R.Selvam, Organic Farmers Federation.
10) Su. Kannaiyan, Organising Secreatry, Thamilga Vivasayeegal Sangam.
11) G.Thirunavukkarasu, Thalanmai Uzhavargal Iyaakkam.
12) P.Thirugana Sambantha Moorthy, Upparru Pasana Vuivasayeegal Sangam. (Upparu River basin Farmers Association).
13) Arumuga Manickkam, Kongu Mandala Vivasayeegal Sangam. ( Kongu region Farmers Association).
14) R.A. Sakthivel, President,South Indian Coconut growers’ Association.
15) K. Ram Mohan, State President, HMKP.
16) Kongu Kulanthaisamy, Erode Dist. Horticultural Farmers’ Society.
17) Dr.Sathya Sundari, Bhavani River Protection Federation.
18) Ponnuthai, Womens Collective.
19) R.Ravi Kumar, Kongu Research Centre.
20) R. Shiva Shanmugam, Organic People.
21) Sundararajan, Poovulagain Nanbargal.
22) M. Shajudheen, Pasumai Illaingarkal. (Green Youth).
23) Kurunthasalam, South Indian Tribals Association.
Those who could not participate but given consent for the resolutions
1) Vetta Valam Manikandan, Thamilaga Vivasyaeegal Sangam.
2) K.Bala Krishnan, State President, Thamizhaga Vivasayeegal Sansam. (Affiliated to the Communitst Party of India Marxist)
3) Arupathy. Kalyanam, General Secreatry, Federation Of Farmers Association of Cauvery Delta Districts.
4) M. Cheran, President, Federation Of Farmers Association of Cauvery Delta Districts.
5) Prabhu Raja, President, NAM farmers’ Movement.
6) Thalpathi, President, Thadappali Farmers Association.
7) Velayutham, President, Kaligarayan Farmers Federation.
8) Vaiyapuri, Iykkiya Farmers Sangam.
9) Abbas, Millai Periyar River Protection Council.

Lunch Break

Friday, April 3, 2009

'Monsanto Quit India’, 65 activists arrested

'Monsanto Quit India’, say active protestors at TNAU, get arrested

Coimbatore, 2nd April 2009: The movement against Genetically Modified (GM) crops in Tamil Nadu took a dramatic turn today when a large number of protestors, led by Vellaiyan, the leader of Tamil Nadu Traders Association were arrested by the police for staging an active protest against the field trial of a GM corn plant inside the premises of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU). The protestors, under the umbrella organization of the Safe Food Alliance had come together to demand immediate destruction of the field where trial of BT corn, a hazardous GM food crop developed by Monsanto within the university premise was being carried out in secrecy for the last 3 months.

Genetically modified (GM) foods have been proved to be risky and can cause serious health hazards like hyper allergies, retarded growth, inflammation and liver and kidney toxicity. Studies have even predicted that long term consumption of GM foods like Bt corn can lead to serious reproductive problems and eventually to infertility. GM crops also are unanimously opposed by all farmers union’s across India, as they can contaminate the agri-biodiversity developed over thousands of years, while increasing corporate control over seed, impairing soil fertility and end the rights of farmers over their seed.

Despite these issues surrounding GM crops that have been raised by activists, the TNAU has been conducting open air field trials for the multinational company Monsanto on the public land held by the university - free of cost.

“We are tired of the strategy of silent destruction that this university has adopted” Said Mr. Vellaiyan, President of the Tamil Nadu Vanighar Sangangalin Peravai while being dragged into the police van. “The university is acting against the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu - both farmers and traders. It has sworn its loyalty to the MNC Monsanto by conducting this field trial, and has been defending its act by propagating lies and misleading the government and the people of this state,” he added.

Earlier in March, the Safe Food Alliance had organised a rally against the continued allegiance of the University to the MNC Monsanto. On the same day, representatives form more than 11 Farmers organisaitons, Tamil Nadu Vanighar Sangangalin Peravai and Greenpeace had delivered a set of recommendations to the University- asking it to destroy the field trials immediately.

‘When countries across the world like France, Italy, Austria, England, Poland and Romania have decided to keep a moratorium on GM crops, when states like Kerala can declare themselves GM free and chart a organic path to revive their farming sector, why cant Tamil Nadu ? If we farmers don’t need GM crops, why does the university continue signing agreements with foreign companies for collaboration?’ asked Aruchamy of the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam..

Today’s active protest carries a lot of significance to the fluid political situation in the State- as the 15th Lok Sabha Elections are fast approaching. Many parties, like the PMK- Pattali Makkal Katchi have taken a strong position against GM crops in the Manifesto. The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) had also been supporting the demand for gm free India and for a state ban in Tamil Nadu.

Mrs. Ponnuthai of the Womens Collective, who is part of the team, said, “We are here to protest against the introduction GM food in the country. As responsible citizens, we are here to assert that we do not need such technologies. As consumers, our right to safe food cannot be violated and we cannot be made into lab rats in this experiment”

The protests against such anti farmer alliances made by public sector universities has also flared up at Kolhapur in Maharashtra recently. There also farmers have united against the leadership of legendary farmers leader N D Patil and have demanded immediate halt and destruction of the Monsanto’s BT Corn field trial which is currently going on inside the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyalaya campus in Kolhapur.

Today’s active protest at TNAU university also was also addressed by many others including K. Ramakrishnan, of the Periyar Dravida Kazhagam, Balusamy, Secretary, Thondamuthur region, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Selvam from the Erode district organic farmers collective and Jai Krishna from Greenpeace.