Political parties, Farmer & Farm-Workers Unions, Women’s Organisations, Scientists and other people’s movements to Jointly run this National Campaign

 

New Delhi, Oct 25: The fight against GM Mustard has developed into a united front across the nation, a glimpse of which was seen at a one day Dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi today. Under the banner of Sarson Satyagraha, state governments, political parties, farmer unions, farm workers unions, trade unions of various political ideologies, Industry representatives, scientists,  Women’s rights organisations, Right to Food campaign and other civil society organisations joined hands to pledge that any efforts by the Central Government to approve the controversial GM Mustard would be thwarted through a united struggle. The gathering of forces by these diverse groups is a result of central government’s plans to approve the commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) Herbicide Tolerant (HT) Mustard.

 

The protest saw the participation of 150 organizations from across India, including 29 national level organizations and alliances like Bhartiya Kisan Union, All India Kisan Sabha, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA),  Organic Farming Association of India, Confederation of Beekeeping Industry of India, Azadi Bachao Andolan, All-India Agricultural Workers’ Union, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), National Right to Food Campaign etc. In terms of membership and involvement, these organizations represent a few crores of Indian citizens, including farmers, agricultural workers, scientists, and all sections of the society. They were joined by leaders from the political parties of Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, JD(U), CPI(M), CPI, DMK and Swaraj India Party in the dharna.

 

If approved, this HT GM crop with 3 bacterial genes in it for characters like male sterility and herbicide tolerance would be the first GM food crop as well as the first HT crop to be approved in the country. Earlier this month the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the nodal agency for GM crops under the Ministry for Environment, wound up a public feedback process on bio-safety studies of GM mustard which was widely criticised as a sham – clearly signalling that the government is in a hurry to get the HT GM Mustard approved in time for the November season.

 

Firing the first salvo at the dharna today, the leaders of the biggest farmer unions in the country called the efforts to push GM crops into the farms and food nothing but anti-farmer. “Real farmer organizations of the country have never asked for a GM crop,” said Yudhvir Singh of Bharatiya Kisan Union. Ratan Lal of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh said that the threat of GM crops is similar to the threat of East India Company which gradually colonized the entire country, and farmer should fight together to stop GM crops. Farmer leaders from across the spectrum including Hannan Molla and Vijoo Krishnan of All India Kisan Sabha, Rakesh Tikait from Bhartiya Kisan Union, Rampal Jat from Rajasthan and Badribhai from Gujarat declared that if the government doesn’t listen to farmers’ voice and stop GM mustard, they will step up the fight and take to the streets. Instead of doubling incomes, this approach is only going to lead to agriculture distress and farm suicides.

 

In a video message to the gathering, the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told a big hoax is being played on farmers by bringing GM crops in their name. He reminded the Prime Minister that Bihar has always opposed GM crops – whether Bt Brinjal or field trials of GM Maize. He warned that if the Centre doesn’t listen to the state governments and goes ahead with GM Mustard, it will face strong opposition from the people of Bihar – who will not allow GM in the state at any cost.

 

Delhi Minister Kapil Mishra questioned why the Central government is not listening to even its allies such as Bhartiya Kisan Sangh and Swadeshi Jagran Manch.  He said that Aam Aadmi Party fully supports the struggle against GM crops, and that the Jashn-e-Sarson festival of mustard which was organized by the Delhi government in September received tremendous response from people across the spectrum. Congress M.P. Gaurav Gogoi from Assam declared that this Satyagraha is not against science, and that the farmers should be respected as practising scientists. He questioned why thousands of farmers coming to Delhi are not getting appointment with the Prime Minister but corporate CEOs get to travel along with him. He reminded that in the case of Bt Brinjal, the UPA government took a democratic approach to decision-making, and urged PM Modi to do the same.

 

“It’s clear that all sections of our society and state governments are realizing the impending dangers of this HT GM Mustard. This resistance movement will only get stronger and it is very likely that the government will find itself in the same situation as with the land ordinance,” said Kavitha Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).

 

In a new turn of events, major agricultural worker unions in the country have decided to join the opposition to GM crops growing the country. Highlighting the fact that adoption of HT crops will drastically impact rural employment, Com. Thirinavukkarasu of the All India Agricultural workers Union pointed to the complete contradiction in the government policies where on the one hand, thousands of crores are being spend for creating rural employment under grand schemes like the NREGS and on the other hand promoting technologies like Herbicide-Tolerant crops.” This was echoed by Com. Amarjeeth Kaur of AITUC. It is estimated that if GM mustard is adopted on even a low 25% of mustard cultivation area in India, this will result in an approximate employment loss of 4.25 crore person-days in rural areas. This will have impact on major mustard growing states including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana which are BJP-ruled states.

 

Scientific experts like Dr Debal Deb, renowned plant breeding expert, Dr Suman Sahai, geneticist and policy expert, Dr Amar Singh Azad, public health expert, and Dr.Jyotsna, Ayurveda expert spoke at the dharna and said that the push for GM mustard doesn’t represent progress of science but undermining of true science.

 

Sarson Satyagraha sought to send a strong message to the Prime Minister, with a detailed memorandum highlighting concerns of all sections, and the scientific arguments against GM mustard, which was endorsed by leaders across the spectrum. Various delegations from the gathering the Sarson Satyagraha comprising farmer leaders and scientific experts went to meet with the PMO, the Environment minister, the Agriculture minister, the Health minister, Commerce minister, Minister of Women and Child Development to remind them of their mandate and roles and to urge them to intervene to stop GM Mustard and other similar GM crops.

 

In the latest development on the judicial front, the supreme court of India yesterday in the ongoing PIL challenging the release of GMOs into the environment directed the government not to commercialise the GM Mustard until further orders. Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan addressing the dharna said that “it’s unfortunate that the Govt of India today stands between justice and the nation and is continuously trying to mislead the ho’nble Supreme Court with false affidavits and outright lies in the court.”

 

A misleading argument has been around India already consuming imported GM oil, and this fact being the rationale for approving commercial cultivation within the country. We have strongly objected to the decisions to allow import of GM canola and GM soybean oil. These are untested products and lack of any scientific research on adverse impacts of such consumption cannot be construed to be proof of safety. Even so, the imported GM oil constitutes only around 10-11% of India’s edible oil consumption. In fact, imported GM canola oil is less than 2% of our total consumption. It is also apparent that if in-country cultivation is allowed, it is no longer about consumption of highly processed oils, but more consumption of transgenic mustard in more direct and unprocessed forms including seed, leaves and paste. Furthermore, an argument around consumption of imported oil cannot be an argument for allowing cultivation which brings with it other serious issues of impact on agriculture and environment, especially given that this is a herbicide tolerant crop.

 

The dharna ended with all the participants taking a solemn oath to fight to ensure that no more GM crops enter our food and farming system.

 

Contact:

Kavitha Kuruganti: 088800 67772; Kiran Vissa: 09701705743; Rajesh Krishnan: 075599 15032

SARSON SATYAGRAHA: PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS

(OCTOBER 25TH 2016, JANTAR MANTAR, DELHI)

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS / ALLIANCES

  1. All India Agricultural Workers Union
  2. All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)
  3. All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)
  4. Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
  5. Azadi Bachao Andolan
  6. Bharat Beej Swaraj Manch
  7. Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS)
  8. Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU)
  9. Biodynamic Association of India
  10. Coalition for a GM-Free India
  11. Confederation of Beekeeping Industry of India
  12. Greenpeace India
  13. Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS)
  14. India For Safe Food campaign
  15. Indian Coordination Committee for Farmers’ Movements (ICCFM)
  16. Jai Kisan Andolan (JKA)
  17. Kisan Ekta
  18. Kisan Maha Panchayat
  19. Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS)
  20. MAKAAM (Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch)
  21. National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM)
  22. New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
  23. Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI)
  24. Right to Food Campaign (RTFC)
  25. Samajwadi Samagam
  26. SANSAD
  27. Save Our Rice Campaign
  28. Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM)
  29. Swaraj Abhiyan

Andhra Pradesh & Telangana😐
Mahila Raithula Hakkula Vedika
Nelamma Mahila Raithula Sahakara Sangham
Pragathi Organic Farmers’ Cooperative
Rythu Swarajya Vedika
Sahaja Aharam Cooperative Federation

Bihar:
GM-Free Bihar Movement
Jeevit Maati Kisan Samiti, Kedia

Delhi:
Khadya Nyay Abhiyan
HUMSA
INSAF
Janpahal, Delhi
Vividhara
Various other organisations which are local or national organisations based out of Delhi

Goa:
The Goa Foundation

Gujarat:
ANANDI
Asal organic Shop
Bharatiya Kisan Sangh-Gujarat
Daxin Gujarat Sajiv Kheti Mandal
Gujarat Khedut Samaj
JATAN: A Mission for Organic Farming
Kutch Sajiv Kheti Manch
Lokmitra
Madhya Gujarat Sajiv Kheti Mandal
Organic Trade Link
Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti
Ramkrushna Trust
Sabarkantha Sajiv Kheti Mandal
Saurashtra Sajiv Kheti Abhiyan
Shantigram Nirman Mandal
Uttar Gujarat Sajiv Kheti Manch

Haryana:
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Haryana)
‘Dr Surinder Dalal Keet Saksharata Mission’
Kudarti Kheti Abhiyaan
Swaraj Abhiyan
Swashaasan Mission

Himachal Pradesh:
Himalay Niti Abhiyan
Lok Vigyan Kendra
Paryavaran evam Jan Vikas Sanghatan
Rural Technology Development Centre
Youth for Development

Karnataka:
Bhoomi Network
Desi Krushikara Balaga, Haveri
Karnataka Alliance for Safe Food
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
Malnad Rice Growers Association, Banavasi
Millet Growers Association, Madhugiri
Nesara Farmers’ Market
Samvada
Sahaja
Sanjeevini Savayava Krushikara Balaga, Dharwad
Sharana Muddanna Savayava Krushikara Balaga, Davanagere
SOIL
SWARAJ Sanghatane

Kerala:
Haritha Sena
Jaiva Karshaka Samiti
Kerala Paristhithi Aikya Vedika
Thanal

Madhya Pradesh:
Beej Swaraj Abhiyan
Lok Jagriti Manch
MP Kisan Sangharsh Samiti

Maharashtra:
Amhi Amchya Arogyasathi
Apeksha Homeo Society
Chetna Samaj Sewa Mandal
Dharamitra
Dilasa
Gavkus
GM-Free Maharashtra network
Gramin Yuwa Pragatik Mandal
ISAR
Kisan Mitra Network
Kalpavrikh, pune
Matrubhoomi Organic Farmers Cooperative, Odisha
Nagpur Bijotsav group
Naisargik Sheti Beej Company
Sanwad, Rawala
Sarita
Sashwat Sheti Parishad
Sawitri Mahila Mandal
SIRDI
Vanvadi Agro-ecological Regeneration Assocation
Vasundhara Jaivik Kisan Sanstha, Maharashtra
Vidarbha Farmers Study Group

Odisha:
Basudha, Odisha
Birupakshya Krushak Sanghatan
Kandhamal Parompariko Chasi Sangathano
Matrubhoomi Organic Farmers Cooperative
Nabanirman Krushak Sanghatana
Paschim Odisha Krushak Sanghatan Samanvay Samithi

Pondicherry:
Pondicherry Organic Farmers’ Association

Punjab:
Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Punjab
Bhartiya Kisan Union Ekta Sidhupur
Environmental Health Action Group
Hitkaari Kheti
Kheti Virasat Mission
Kudrat Manav Kendrit Lok Lehar
Kudrati Kisan Haat, Ludhiana
Rajiv Dixit Bharat Chetna Manch
Vatavaran Atey Samaj Bachao Morcha
Women Action for Ecology

Rajasthan:
Astha
Hanuman Van Vikas Samiti
Kisan Sewa Samiti Mahasangh
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan
Sikshantar
Swaraj University
Vaagdhara
Vagad Mazdoor Kisan Sanghatan
Vatvriksh
Yuva Mandal, Rajasthan

Tamil Nadu:
Peoples Livelihood Association
Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation
Thalanmai Uzhavar Iyakkam
Thamizhaga Vyavasayigal Sangham
Vanagam – Nammalvar Ecological Agriculture Research and Training Center
Safe Food Alliance
Nallasoru

Uttar Pradesh:
Bhartiya Kisan Union
Gorakhpur Environment Action group
SANSAD
Udaan Society and Youth Foundation

Uttarakhand:
Beej Bachao Andolan, Uttarakhand
Chintan, Uttarakhand
Mahila Umang, Uttarakhand

West Bengal:
Forum for GM-Free West Bengal
Gona Udyog
EarthCare Books
Kisan Swaraj Samiti
Mahatma Gandhi Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan