June 24, 2010


Punjab farmers oppose BT Maize


Eminent citizens, farmers and environmental activists recently threatened to launch a sustained agitation to oppose entry of BT Maize crop into Punjab and prevent any attempt to jeopardise the country's food sovereignty.


This was announced at a press conference organised in response to reports that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had supported cultivation of BT Maize as part of the State Government's crop diversification mandate.


Kheti Virasat Mission chief Umendera Dutt said an alliance of intellectuals, scientists, farmers, consumers, professionals, politicians and activists of all hues would be created soon for peacefully opposing the move to introduce BT Maize into the country's food chain.


He said a nationwide scientific debate would be built to highlight the matter, while the alliance would strive to take the issue to its logical conclusion.


Dutt asked Badal to explain the haste in announcing his support for BT Maize even when the crop had not been cleared by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).


The president and general secretary of two separate factions of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Balkar Singh Dakunda and Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan respectively, said an awareness campaign would be launched to highlight the negative impact of the "genetically modified" (GM) crops. They were of the opinion that since Punjab was already reeling under the impact of the practices unleashed during the first edition of the "green revolution," it could ill afford another foray of adventurism.


The farmer leaders said that international reports and decline in fertility in Punjab's milch cattle since introduction of BT Cotton would be discussed at the village level. They also warned that GM crops had actually accelerated the soil depletion process.


Social activist Hemant Goswami said the support by the Punjab Government to GM foods had changed the entire political scenario especially after public pressure forced the government to place a moratorium on introduction of BT Brinjal.

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