ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
16 January 2003


from "ashok sharma" <>

Two News Story appeared in The Financial Express, India on January 17, 2003.

In the first News Story: The two international NGOs operating in India, viz, CARE-India and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have suddenly withdrawn their petitions filed before the country's Appeallate Authority on GM Foods Import, responding to widespread public opinion against import of any GM foods.

The CARE-India and the CRS had earlier sought to import large quantities of GM corn and soya from the US for relief operations amongst the poor.  The country's regulatory authority, GEAC had turned down the requests of CARE-India and CRS on the ground that these GM foods can be hazardous to public health.

The CARE-India and the CRS than filed separate petitions challenging the decision of the GEAC. Now the CARE-India and CRS have withdrawn their petitions responding to the popular public opinion.

In the second News Story: The chairman of International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) [the biotech industry's leading boosters for GM in the Third World], Clive James in teleconferencing with Indian media admitted that transgenic biotechnology is "not a golden bullet for solving all problems in agriculture". There is still a need for integrated pest management. His comments were in reference to the performance of Bt cotton in India. Bt cotton is so far the only transgenic crop to be commercialised in India

1. GM Corn-soya Import Row: CRS, CARE-India Withdraw Writs
2. Transgenic Technology Not A Golden Bullet : ISAAA


GM Corn-soya Import Row: CRS, CARE-India Withdraw Writs

Ashok B Sharma
New Delhi, Jan 16

The controversy over the proposed import of genetically modified (GM) corn-soya blend from US has finally settled. The importing agencies CARE-India and the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have decided to withdraw thier petitions before the Appeallate Authority constituted under the GMO Rules.

Environment ministry sources told FE, "the matter has finally been resolved as both the CARE-India and the CRS have recently withdrawn their petitions."

The CARE-India officials when contacted admitted the withdrawal of petition but refused to comment on the situation. The CRS country representative, Stephen Robert Hilbert said "we are just as concerned about the health of the poor as the Indian government" and declined to further comment on the situation.

CARE (Co-operation for American Relief Everywhere), an international NGO operating in India, had in July last sought the permission to import 15,000 tonne of GM corn-soya blend from the US while the CRS proposed to import 8,000 tonne. As GM corn and soya are yet to get approval the government referred the matter to the genetic engineering approval committee (GEAC).

Meanwhile when the first shipment of 1,000 tonne was about to arrive, GEAC decided in November-end not to approve the consignment as the US government or the exporting agency failed to certify that the consignment would not contain traces of the dangerous Starlink Corn or any other GM materials hazardous to human health. The agencies then appealed before the one-man Appeallate Authority headed by the former environment secretary, Vishwanath Anand against the GEAC&rsquo;s order on December-end. The Appeallate Authority had fixed the date for hearing on February 18.

According to sources US Senator, Christopher Bond and Dr Roger N Beachy, president of Donald Danforth Plant Science Center had met the government officials and ministers in December to convince them that the GM foods in US were perfectly safe.

GEAC was seized of the news that the Starlink Corn which is yet to get clearance for human consumption had already slipped into the US food chain since the September 2000, sparking a nationwide recall of more than 300 kinds of corn based foods. Recently Australia, Japan and South Korea have found traces of Starlink Corn in US food consignments.

Food analyst, Dr Devinder Sharma supported GEAC's decision not to allow imports of GM foods and also complimented the CARE-India and the CRS for withdrawing their petitions.

(This news story appeared in The Financial Express, India on January 17, 2003)


Transgenic Technology Not A Golden Bullet : ISAAA

Our Economic Bureau
New Delhi, Jan 16

Biotechnology, particularly the transgenic technology is not a golden bullet to solve all the problems in agriculture. It is a knee-strengthening technique that could result in slashing the input costs and thereby provide a comparative advantage, said the chairman of International Services for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Dr Clive James.

Adressing the media through teleconferencing arranged in Delhi on Thursday, Dr James said from Hong Kong, "as India has approved the first GM crop, Bt cotton, there is a need for a proper insects and pest reistance management scheme with a view to maximise the durability of genes in the transgenic crop." Dr Clive, however, did not agree with the view that Bt cotton was a total failure in India.

Dr James instead produced anannual review of the progress of transgenic crops over the globe and claimed that 27 pe cent of the developing countries have adopted transgenic crops. But the review of the annual progress of the transgenic crops suggests that most of the transgenics are in commercial crops and not in staple crops to address the needs of food security.

Dr James said that farmers worldwide have adopted biotech crops at a double digit pace with biotech acreage reaching 58.7 million hectares but the progress is in crops like cotton, canola (mustard), corn and soyabeans. Queried about the precautions needed while introducing GM crops, he said development of resistance by pests to these varieties has emerged as a major concern as the genes had been tinkerred with to combat this menace.

Dr James claimed that the high adoption rate of GM crops is a strong vote of confidence in bio-tech crops, reflecting farmers&rsquo; need for satisfaction with the technology. He said that Philippinnes has become the first Asian country to grow GM yellow corn which is used as feed not food.

He said that there has been a 12 per cent increase in area covered under GM crops worldwide in 2002. The 58.7 million hectares under these crops is equivalent to over five percent of the total land area of China or the US. Nearly six million farmers in 16 countries are now using the GM-technology including those from nine developing countries. Incomes have doubled to $ 500 per hectare annually from $ 250.

(This news story appeared in The Financial Express, India on January 17, 2003)

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