The Milk Crises of 2015, India: Farmers Resisting
Golden Rice, yet another example of a fragmented, piece-meal solution to address the issue of malnutrition. Golden Rice is a genetically engineered variety of japonica and indica cultivars of rice, which has been developed by adding a gene from the daffodil plant and from a bacterium to produce beta-carotene. This is being promoted as a panacea for Vitamin A deficiency (VAD). This deficiency is common among the poorer sections of society in several countries. The deficiency is associated with malnutrition — a complex social problem, which the industrial agricultural system once again wants to solve with the magic wand of technology. By positioning itself as a solution it threatens indigenous and diverse food cultures, while pushing the industrial food system. Read more about about this Grain Gamble.
Earlier this year on March 8, International Women’s Day, the FSA ran a campaign condemning the ‘Allow Golden Rice Now Campaign’ since it was yet another example of how the industrial food system and the State are looking at food as a commodity. The root cause of malnutrition is the erosion of our holistic, integrated, indigenous food systems. The solution lies in this very same system and not in the industrial system which views food as agribusiness!
On October 27, 2015, the Telangana Government issued a Government Order 496 for the conduct of GM crop field trials. The GO titled “Conduct of GM crop field trails- No Objection Certificate (NOC) from State Government –Constitution of a New Committee” states that “Bio-technology has become an important source of crop improvement and BT research is progressing at an accelerated pace not only all over the world but requires encouragement in the State of Telangana also.” Telangana now joins eight other States (Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Karnataka) where approvals for field trials for food and cash crops have been provided by the State Governments.
This move by the Telangana Government completely disregards the strong caution sounded by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture (August 2012) and the Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court (June 2013).
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in its report strongly recommended:
In case of transgenics in agriculture crops in India, the experience of last decade has conclusively shown that while it has extensively benefitted the industry, as far as the lot of poor farmers is concerned, even the trickle down is not visible.
The Committee, therefore, unanimously recommend that till all the concerns voiced in this Report are fully addressed and decisive action is taken by the Government with utmost promptitude, to put in place all regulatory, monitoring, oversight, surveillance and other structures, further research and development on transgenics in agricultural crops should only be done in strict containment and field trials under any garb should be discontinued forthwith.
The Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court echoed similar concerns in its Report:
Based on the deliberations of the TEC and particularly the examination/study of the safety dossiers, it is apparent that there are major gaps in the regulatory system. These need to be addressed before issues related to tests can be meaningfully considered. Till such time it would not be advisable to conduct more field trials.
A single committee such as the GEAC or RCGM doing all the evaluation is not sufficient.
Today, based on approval from only GEAC, the Telangana Government has issued this GO.
The Food Sovereignty Alliance strongly condemns this action by the Telangana Government: an action that will further and strengthen the corporate control over agriculture and food production, erode diverse, resilient local agroecologically based food systems and result in an irreversible impact on the ecological integrity of our natural systems.