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11 August 2002


AgBioIndia Mailing List
11 August 2002

Subject: (Breaking News) - Karnataka bans Monsanto's Bt Cotton seeds

Demand for Monsanto's ouster picks up

Karnataka farmers have done it again. Hundreds of farmers, led by the KRRS chief, Prof. M. D. Nanjudaswamy, protested on Friday demanding the ouster of Monsanto from the premises of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, in the south Indian State of Karnataka. State agriculture minister Koujalgi was quick to respond and made a dash to address the massive rally. He announced the ban on the sale of Bt Cotton seeds in the State for the month of August.

A few days earlier, the KRRS (Karnataka State Farmers' Association) had convinced farmers growing Bt cotton in Davangere district in Karnataka to destroy the standing crop in two acres. In another related development, a New Delhi-based NGO asked for the release of the cotton research trials data on the basis of which the commercial approval was granted. We at the Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security have repeatedly said that the entire exercise of  'research trials' of Bt Cotton and its subsequent approval by the GEAC is the country's biggest 'scientific fraud'.

Three news reports, presented below, are from Bangalore's prestigious English daily, The Deccan Herald.

Govt Bans Sale of Bt Cotton Seeds Temporarily

DH News Service

Bowing to protests by farmers, the sale of Bt cotton seeds has been banned in the State temporarily. Agriculture Minister Koujalgi today issued the order at a massive rally of farmers organised in the City by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha demanding the ouster of American-based Monsanto Research Centre from the Indian Institute of Science premises.

Mr Koujalgi said that the government would convene a meeting of researchers, farmers and others concerned in a few days to build consensus on the issue. Following the assurance by the minister, the protesters dispersed.

Earlier, hundreds of Raitha Sangha activists who took out a rally from City Railway Station were stopped on the Platform Road near Jakkarayanakere by the police. Police had clamped prohibitory orders around one km of IISc. Heavy security arrangements were made to prevent any untoward incident.

KRRS President Prof M D Nanjundaswamy alleged that Monsanto's activities would destroy the genetical uniqueness of the crops in the country. He termed the fight against multi-national seed companies as "second phase of freedom struggle" and added, "they should be chased out of the country to protect the biodiversity and health of the people and farm animals."

KRRS Activists Destroy Bt Cotton in Davanagere

DH News Service

Activists of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) destroyed Bt cotton cultivated in an area of two acre at Rudranakatte near here on Sunday.

The activists led by KRRS President Prof M D Nanjundaswamy convinced the farmers before destroying the crops. Security was tightened in the village to prevent any untoward incident. However, the police could not take any steps against the activists as they destroyed the crops after convincing the farmers.

Mallappa and Hanumanthappa, two farmers of the village had cultivated Bt cotton. The KRRS activists told them that the crop would have to be destroyed since it affected the environment.

KRRS office-bearers Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, K T Gangadhar, Honnur Muniyappa, H Manjunath, M Channabasappa and hundreds of activists participated in the operation.

Earlier, addressing the villagers, Prof Nanjudaswamy alleged that the crop though a disease resistant would destroy farmer-friendly insects and affect the environment.

He charged that the foreign companies were engaged in destroying the agriculture here.

NGO Demands Release of Bt Cotton Data

DH News Service

Reviving the Bt cotton controversy, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) today appealed to the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) to release the data collected during the field trial of Bt cotton for the public. Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) as well as multinational agro-giant Monsanto and its Indian partner Mahyco conducted the field trials on Bt cotton in the last two years.

"These data form the basis of the landmark decision taken by Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the regulatory body which decided that five Bt cotton varieties are safe and effective and therefore gave approval for their release in India. The people have a right to know on what basis this decision was taken," Dr Suman Sahai, President of Gene Campaign said.

Though many NGOs have approached GEAC, which comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), as well as the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM), under Science Ministry which cleared the transgenic cotton for larger field trials, so far the government has not released the data.

In a letter to NAAS president Dr V L Chopra, Dr Sahai said that the Centre's decision is a clear violation of the Right to Information Act, which gives every citizen the right to access information in the public domain. "The information pertaining to the field trials are public documents and have to be released to the public on request," she added.

The NGO has asked the apex agriculture science body to procure the data from GEAC and release it in the public for a thorough scientific screening.

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