PROTEST IN JAPAN ON GE RICE
The People's Caravan 2000 : Land and Food Without Poisons! 21 November, 2000
Japan adds its Voice to the People's Caravan - "Citizens on the Move for Land and Food Without Poisons!"
Over 500 farmers and consumers marched today on the streets of Tokyo protesting the eminent planting of genetically engineered Roundup Ready Rice for commercial sale in Japan.
The National Rally against genetically engineered rice, principally
organised by the Network for Safe and Secure Food and the Environment (NESSFE)
is part the week long activities organised in Japan, linked to the People's
Caravan - "Citizens on the Move for Land and Food Without
Poisons!" - activities travelling across India, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
The "National Rally Against Genetically Engineered Rice" is a part of the "No to Genetic Engineering Food Campaign" launched on September 20 by NESSFE.
Mika Iba, Coordinator of NESSFE, said the Agrochemical TNC, Monsanto, had invested a lot of time and money in co-opting farmers into planting genetically engineered rice.
She said Japan is often looked at as a model for economic growth and development by other Asian Nations. At the same time the consumer movement in Japan has become strong.
If Monsanto is allowed to get a stronghold in the Japanese rice market, through farmer and consumer acceptance, this could set a precedence for the wide-scale planting of genetically engineered rice in the region. The concern is also over possible increase in the pesticide used. "We have to stop them!" Iba said.
The Monsanto product, glyphosate, is the active ingredient in Roundup
herbicide (weed killer) used to control weeds. Monsanto claims that herbicide
use on its Roundup Ready soyabeans most prominently grown in the United
States (U.S), "is between 10% and 40% less than the amount
presently used in conventional varieties."
However, according to research undertaken by the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), statistics from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that expanded plantings of Roundup Ready soybeans in the U.S. in 1997 resulted in the use of glyphosate on soybeans increasing by some 72% to 14.9 million pounds or 6,759 tons.
Furthermore, according to a survey from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the increased usage of several other high-volume herbicides contributed to a 29% increase in overall herbicide usage on soybeans.
The effect on human health and the environment from increased pesticide use, ultimately resulting in crop resistance to glyphosate, in turn producing harder to kill weeds, thereby encouraging the use of more pesticides, has never been adequately addressed by Monsanto or the biotech industry in general.
The concerns held by NESSFE reflect the groundswell of voices across Asia - from non- governmental organisations, small farmers, landless peasants, farm workers and anti-pesticide and genetic engineering advocates ñ strongly opposing the introduction of genetically engineered rice and the increasing corporate control of rice research and seed systems through out the region.
The People's Caravan - "Citizens on the Move for Land and Food Without Poisons is currently on the move in Bangladesh, started in India on November 13, and culminates in the Philippines between November 26 - 30, with activities on November 30 commemorating "One Year Since Seattle".
In Bangladesh, the major thrust of the Caravan is to launch a farmers campaign against genetically engineered rice.
Farida Akhter, Executive Director of UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternatives) says many Asian countries like Bangladesh are rice producing countries with many rice varieties produced by the farmers themselves. "They do not need any company to intervene into their thousand year old production practice."
She said, "UBINIG urges all farmers in the rice producing and rice consuming countries of Asia to resist planting genetically engineered rice as it will mean an aggression on their sovereign rights to produce their own staple food. GE rice is harmful socially, economically, environmentally and also an attack on farmers sovereignty."
"Bangladeshi farmers will resist it by any means, we want farmers of all Asian countries to take a united position against genetically engineered rice," she said.
For more information contact:
PAN AP (Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific)
Jennifer Mourin, Campaigns and Media Coordinator OR Sarah Hindmarsh,
Programme Assistant Genetic Engineering Campaign. Tel: (60-4) 657-0271/
656-038. Fax: (604) 657-7445
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the People's Caravan
Web site: www.poptel.org.uk/panap/caravan.htm
People's Caravan 2000
P.O. Box 1170, 10850, Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: (604) 657 0271/656 0381 Fax: (604) 657 7445
E-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org