Sunday, July 20, 2014

Several Farmer Groups and consumer forums term the hurried granting of permission for GM Field trails as unwanted and unwarranted, requests CM to not permit them in the State

Several Farmer Groups and consumer forums term the hurried granting of permission for GM Field trails as unwanted and unwarranted, requests CM to not permit them in the State  
Chennai  20th July 2014 – Several farmer leaders, farmers, consumer forums and safe food activists have raised questions about the unnecessary haste shown by the GEAC in clearing 60 of the pending 70 applications for field trials of different genetically modified (GM) crops (rice, mustard, chickpea etc.) despite there being several questions from previous GEAC meetings that have not been answered.
The report of the approval for field trials by the GEAC coming close on the heels of the supposedly leaked IB report naming anti-GM activists, seems to be a well orchestrated move by the pro-GM corporate lobby work. “What is the need for such a hasty release just before the cropping seasons starts, particularly when so many states had earlier clearly indicated that they were not for conducting field trials?” asked the President of Tamil Nadu organic farmers Association Mr. Selvam from Erode.

“While agriculture is a State subject, this continued control of an unsafe technology such as GM crops by a centralized body such as GEAC is compromising the state interest and priorities”, said Mr. Vettavalam Manigandan, President of the Tamil Nadu Vivasaayigal Sangam. He also added that the honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had earlier made it very clear that she will not allow GM in Tamil Nadu and we hope she will reiterate that stand by opposing such forcible thrust of Field trials on the states.
 “The Supreme Court appointed Expert Committee had opined we don’t need this technology, so had the Standing Committee of the Parliament said that we don’t need this technology. Despite these the repeated succumbing of the government machinery to the corporate lobby groups indicates that nothing has changed between the priorities of the UPA and the NDA governments. This timing is also very questionable as the Supreme Court is about to pronounce its orders on the issue of GM crops, based on the recommendations of the Court’s Technical Expert Committee (TEC). The TEC majority report has strongly recommended a stopping of all open-air field trials. It was this Supreme Court case that was the reason why the former Environment Minister Ms Jayanti Natarajan had put approvals on hold, and pending 70 applications. Nothing substantive in terms of either the (lack of) safety of GMOs, nor the Supreme Court giving its verdict on the subject, has changed since then. The last time GEAC approved some GMOs for open air field testing, prominent BJP leaders had condemned the move”, said Mr. Ananthoo coordinator of the Safe Food Alliance, Chennai.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report on GM crops, first in 2012 and then in 2014, which had seven members from the BJP also, has strongly urged to stop all open air field trials “under any garb”. It is relevant to note that this is the first meeting of the GEAC since the new central government has come to power, and in this context it is imperative that Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change intervene in this matter and recall the decision to allow open air field trials.
“It is unfortunate that while the Bt Brinjal moratorium was issued after such a large scale consultative democratic process, the current rejuvenated GEAC seems to treat an issue of such sensitivity as a matter of bureaucratic routine, this is placing at grave threat our genetic diversity pool and our overall food safety for the future”, said Dr.G.Shivaraman of Poovulagin Nanbargal. He also added that “The Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report on GM crops, first in 2012 and then in 2014, which had seven members from the BJP also, has strongly urged to stop all open air field trials “under any garb”. It is relevant to note that this is the first meeting of the GEAC since the new central government has come to power, and in this context it is imperative that Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change intervene in this matter and recall the decision to allow open air field trials.”
“it is unfortunate that in a state with such a large diverse pool of traditional paddy reserve, the Madurai Kamaraj University has decided to pursue a GM Rice research and that too on popular white ponni, indicating a bankruptcy of intelligence” said Mr. Ram of the Tharcharbu Uzhavar Iyakkam terming the field trial permission as unwanted and unwarranted. He also added that many of the farmer unions and groups across Tamil Nadu were planning a protest across the state and also are writing directly to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the Central Minister of Environment and forests.

 Contact: Ananthoo 9444166779; Ram- 9444957781; Dr.Shivaraman- 9444027455

Monday, June 30, 2014

Safe Food Mela at Anna Nagar Tower Park on Saturday July 5th 2014

Safe Food Alliance & Organic Farmers Market (OFM)
Jointly organise
Safe Food Mela

                          Organic Snacks, millets recipes, Sale of Organic products
Awareness Exhibition: org Millets, Pottery products, Gardening n composting tips, Hand woven natural dyed organic Tula garments 

3.00 P.M to 7.00 PM, Saturday July 5th 2014
 Anna Nagar Tower Park, Anna Nagar, Chennai – 600 040

Thanks to Chennai Corporation, Chennai citizens can look forward to an interesting and informative Safe Food Mela to create awareness about toxic chemical residues in food and urging consumers to switch to safe organic alternatives. This mela is the combined effort of several non-profit organizations, youngsters spearheading the organic foods movement and organic enterprises. The Mela is expected to be attended by personalities from the film world, musicians, writers  and intellectuals.

Thudumbattam (old traditional tamil instrument and dance) by ex-NSS students of Pachaiyappas at 3.30 PM, followed by Street play by EFI.

The Safe Food Mela is part of a state-wide campaign and awareness program lauched by Safe Food Alliance which seeks to promote chemical-free farming and alternatives to toxic technologies like synthetic pesticides and Genetically Modified foods and educate consumers about the perils of poison on our plates and help them go organic.

The Safe Food Mela in Anna Nagar will have organic outlets setting up their stalls with a variety of products (fresh greens, millets, traditional rices, honey, snacks etc.), as also food-stalls selling tasty ready to eat organic and traditional food.  Awareness material about toxics in foods, traditional and safe foods, pottery, composting and urban gardening will also be on display.

The Safe Food Mela promises to offer fun for the entire family, and the opportunity to change the way you consume food. After all, as the saying goes, You Are What You Eat! Enjoy the joys of organic food, and join the Safe Food Movement.

                                       For more information contact
             Gopi                                  Ananthoo                              Kalairaj
           (OFM)                         (Safe Food Alliance)                     (OFM)
   Cell: 9790900887                     Cell: 9444166779                  Cell: 9841182900

Monday, October 21, 2013


Chennaites’ loud NO to GMOs and corporatisation of food/farming systems

Chennai, October 12th 2013: Chennai was not to be left behind in a Global March Against Monsanto on October 12th – a very impressive and colorful gathering of citizens on Marina Beach loudly pronounced the rejection of the public here of GMOs in our food and farming, and of corporatisation of our food systems. Cab drivers, students, IT sector employees, activists, film actors, artists and numerous others jostled with each other this evening, while proclaiming that their right to safe food cannot be violated by anyone.

We are Marching Against Monsanto here today because Monsanto is really the poster-child of corporate greed and corporate crimes against citizens and the environment. Monsanto is notorious for a variety of misdeeds. In India, our governments seem to be putting out the red carpet for Monsanto, projecting it as a corporation which will save our farmers and farming. However, it is important to note that Monsanto’s history has lessons to teach us about what this corporation is actually all about: it has not hesitated to sue and jail farmers in the name of intellectual property rights, on the ‘crime’ of having used its proprietary products when they use farm-saved seed or even when a farmer’s crop gets contaminated from neighboring fields! It is notorious for polluting natural resources of communities, killing and maiming humans with its products, bribing officials for approvals, falsifying safety reports to show the toxic products as safe, colluding with regulators through a system of revolving doors, false advertising etc. It is a matter of great alarm that governments are getting into partnerships with this corporation and jeopardizing seed sovereignty of Indian farmers. We are here to show corporations like Monsanto that citizens of India do care about the distress of Indian farmers and will not tolerate Monsanto jeopardizing our farming, food and environment”, said Ananthoo of Safe Food Alliance.

The gathering on the Beach was supported by noted celebrities like Pasupathy, Gowthami, Rohini, Director Vasanth, AAdhi, singer Sangeetha Sivakumar and others.

Kumari from Gandhi farmers collective, Villupuram observed that given Monsanto’s controversial history and given the huge money power that it holds (its annual gross profit for 2012 was around 46,500 crores of rupees, which is more than five years’ outlays for India’s National Agriculture Development Programme!), it is not surprising that some Ministries of the Government of India and some state governments are going against citizens’ demand for a GM-Free India and promoting the corporation’s interests, including by using taxpayers’ funds.
We are under threat from the hazardous products that Monsanto wants to profiteer from - these are products that affect the very food that we eat to survive and stay healthy and our environment. These are products that have the potential to jeopardise future generations too. I want to protect my children from the threat of GMOs and pesticides. That is why I am marching here today. I want the government also to take note of my demand, and to uphold my right to safe and nutritious food”, said Shuba, a Chennai housewife.
Vettavalam Manikandan, State President of Tamil Nadu farmers association explained that while the protest was against Monsanto in particular, this is also a message to all such corporations that citizens are conscious of developments in the areas of food and farming and that they will not tolerate scaremongering by GM proponents that without GM crops, the country will starve. “Our farmers have always produced enough and more to feed the country – however, the government and these corporations do not always have the best interests of our anna daatas in mind. As a prominent farmers’ union of the state, this is a clear statement from us: we will not allow any open air field trials of GM food crops in the state”.
This is a corporation that has not hesitated to sue governments – whether it was a matter related to exorbitant royalties/licensing fees being collected from Indian farmers, or whether it was about being transparent about the data related to safety of products like Bt brinjal, or whether it was about paying up compensation to farmers incurring losses due to poor seed quality, Monsanto and its associates have defied public interest time and again. Why should anyone be trusting this company to stand on the side of the public, or our anna daatas? If any government/party is siding with this corporation and the agriculture development model it stands for, including its hazardous technologies, we want to tell that government that we as citizens are not in support of that government/party”, said Sheelu Francis, of  Tamil Nadu Womens Collective.
Dr V Suresh, National General Secretary of PUCL said, “While real issues of hunger and malnutrition stare us in the face in India due to access and distribution issues related to structural inequities, it is disgusting to see the PR stunts of corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, where they first sponsor the World Food Prize Foundation and then award themselves and their scientists this year’s World Food Prize. This year, the World Food Prize forum stands exposed for what it is, much more than in the past. We are here to emphasise that the Right To Food, and Food Security and Sovereignty lie elsewhere and cannot be entrusted to these corporations”.
Similar Marches were held all over India as well as the world today, including protest events organized in Tanjavur, Erode etc. In Tiruvarur this morning over 1000 farmers participated in an event organized by “Save our Rice Campaign TN” led by R Jayaraman, and listened to the keynote address by Dr G Nammalvar, organic farming pioneer and scientist.
Marchers in Chennai, including physicians, farmers, social activists, lawyers, students, home makers, food and grain traders, also took part in an exchange of traditional seeds. There was a street play by koothu-p-pattarai and a thudumbattam performance (an old Tamil percussion instrument with a traditional dance) which attracted a large crowd of onlookers, many of whom joined the protest.
For more information, contact: Ananthoo, Safe Food Alliance via email at 9444166779;  Dr. Shivaraman, SFA : 9444027455; Ram, Samanvaya : 9444957781