Hyderabad: The Southern Action on Genetic Engineering (SAGE) has demanded that there should be an open, transparent and informed national debate that involves all stakeholders about the Genetically Modified crops before introducing the proposed bill on the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority, since there were many apprehensions among the people about the ill-effects of GE crops.
Speaking to the media here on Friday, the National Convener of SAGE, Mr P V Satheesh said that only the affluent farmers can benefit from the cultivation of the GE crops, but not small farmers. He said that on March 26, SAGE organised a round table meeting of senior High Court judges from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Orissa. The panel heard evidences from eleven farmers from three South Indian states of AP, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well as eminent scientists and legal luminaries. “Their opinions compiled in a booklet ‘What are the South Indian Farmers saying about the BT Cotton experience’ serves as an eye opener to every one who has been subsumed by the genetically engineered propaganda of the biotech industry ”, he added.
Mr Sathish also noted that the Genetically Modified crops would result in loss of bio-diversity, soil toxicity and ill-health, though there may be some financial benefits owing to their cultivation. As per the experiences of farmers who cultivated BT crops, the germination rate in the BT seeds was a mere 25 per cent, while it was cent per cent in case of normal seeds. More over, the BT crops cannot withstand incessant rainfall, he observed.
Mr Sathish demanded on behalf of the SAGE that there should be a thorough review of the BT Cotton policy country- wide and its ill-effects on the soil health, cattle and human beings engaged in its cultivation. The proposed Bill on Biotechnology Regulatory Authority must be revisited and a new drafting committee should be constituted that encapsulates farmers, environmentalists and consumers in equal proportion. The Parliament and all State assemblies should bring in legislations to make it a mandatory for all seed firms to provide non contaminated seeds to farmers who have been deprived the options of cultivating non Bt Cotton. (NSS)