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Protests Force Ban on Bt
Cotton in India Region

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AgBioIndia Mailing List
AgBioIndia@agbioindia.org
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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
BANGALORE, Aug 9

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
DAVANGERE, Aug 6

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
NEW DELHI, Aug 8

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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