An International conference on “Two Decades of the GMO Free Movement” was organized by Navdanya / Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology in association with the International Commission on the Future of Food, ARSIA, Region of Tuscany, Italy, Center for Food Safety, USA, Save Our Seeds, Germany, Diverse Women for Diversity and Initiative for Health, Equity and Society on February 23, 2010 at India International Centre.
Ever since giant corporations like Monsanto started to commercialize GMO crops and foods, citizens and governments across the world have organized to keep their food and agriculture GMO free.
The public hearings on Bt-Brinjal in India made it very clear that Indian farmers & consumers do not want GM foods. Shri Atul Pandya of the Centre for Environment Education which organized the public hearings on behalf of the Ministry of Environment presented the report of the public hearings. Farmers who participated in the hearings in different parts of the country shared their experience. The Minister of Environment announced a Moratorium on Bt-Brinjal on 9th February, 2010. Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West-Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Mizoram and Tamil Nadu have said they will not allow Bt-Brinjal in their states.
In Europe, 5 countries and 49 regions are GMO free. Maria Grazia Mammucini, who heads the agricultural research agency of the Region of Tuscany and who founded the network of GMO free regions in Europe was denied a visa, but her presentation was made in absentee.
Benny Haerlin, the leader of the GMO free movement in Europe shared the successes they have had. As he said, “To be GMO free is to free of corporate monopolies & unsafe food. GMO-free movements are creating a real, living democracy.”
The debate on GMOs is also a debate about science. “Which science for Biosafety & Food Security” is an increasingly important question. GMO’s are being imposed on grounds that GM crops produce more food & are safe. Prof. Salvatore Ceccarelli of ICARDA showed how participatory breeding is a much more efficient breeding strategy than genetic engineering. Dr T Vijay Kumar who heads an anti poverty programme for the government of Andhra Pradesh and has converted 14 lakh acres to sustainable agriculture showed that neither pesticides nor GM crops are needed for food security.
Prof Marcello Buiatti who is a member of the Network of Independent Scientists of Europe whose research has led to the GMO bans in many countries & regions was also denied a visa. His presentation showed how genetic engineering is an unreliable & risky technology.
We in Navdanya have made the choice for food democracy & food sovereigntyMs Debi Barker of the Centre for Food Safety which has fought all the cases against Monsanto & GMOs said “after over a decade of GM Crops being grown in the US, the myth and the facts about are now clear. GM seeds have failed to increase yields, herbicide use has increased, and farmers in the US have lost the right to save and replant their seeds.”
Monsanto used the US government to start a dispute against Europe in the WTO on May 13, 2003 because of the European moratorium till further research was done, we started a global citizens GMO challenge to tell the W.T.O. that we were committed to keep our food systems and ecosystems GM free, and to defend our freedom to choose safe food. During the Hong-Kong Ministerial, Dr Vandana Shiva, Jose Bove, and Susan George handed over a petition to the W.T.O. singed by more that 135,000 citizens from 100 countries and more than 740 organisations representing 60 million people on the GMO case.
The W.T.O. could not rule against European countries ban on GMO because of the global GMO free movement.
Today, India’s Bt-Brinjal moratorium is bringing a similar response from the Biotechnology industry. A new law is being floated to introduce the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India. The attempt is usurp the regulatory functions from the Ministry of Environment & put it in the hands of the Department of Biotechnology, the agency that finances the development of genetic engineering. The Ministry of Environment and the EPA rules, regulate for Biosafety – the safety of public health & the environment. The proposed BRAI will de-regulate the biotechnology & put GMO approval on a fast track.
While de-regulating the bio-technology industry, BRAI aims to silence citizens & kill democracy. Article 63 of the proposed law states :
“Whoever, without any evidence or scientific record misleads the public about the safety of the organizations & products specified in Part I or Part II or Part II of the Schedule I, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or both.”
BRAI is a fascist law as far as citizen freedoms are concerned. The fascism of the biotech industry has targeted the best of scientists like Dr Arpad Putzai & Dr Pushpa Bhargava. The Biotechnology industry wants its distorted and manipulated version of science to be the only science that counts scientists independent of industry should have no voice & no freedom. Citizens should have no food freedom.
As Dr Shiva said, “It is becoming increasingly clear that GMO’s can only spread through fascism. We have to make a choice. Either we will have food dictatorship in which the Biotech industry imposes toxic & unsafe GM foods on us or we will stay GMO free & defend our food freedom. We in Navdanya have made the choice for food democracy & food sovereignty, for Anna Swaraj.”
Declaration on the Future of the Global GMO-Free Movement
- We commit ourselves to strengthen the global GMO free movement.
- We condemn the biotechnology industry’s attempts to force-feed the world with GMOs by violating laws, corrupting institutions and distorting science.
- We will resist every undemocratic means to impose GMOs anywhere in the world.
- We demand that all decisions related to food and agriculture be based on holistic, multi-disciplinary, consensus-based science (see www.arsia.toscana.it / petizione/documents/cibo/cibo_ing.pdf)
- The increasing bias of government to promote biotechnology at the cost of other alternatives is creating risks to the environment, public health and democracy. Governments should strengthen public research independent of corporate influence to protect biodiversity, promote sustainable agriculture and ensure biosafety.
- Research worldwide has established that biodiverse ecosystems are more productive and climate change resilient than agriculture systems based on the Green Revolution or genetic engineering. Biodiverse systems are vital to food security and climate security (see International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) Report at www.agassessment.org)
- Every individual, community and country has the right to food sovereignty. We will defend food democracy and create Earth Democracy.