1. Do GM Crops Increase Yield? The answer is No
Tribals oppose introduction of Bt Brinjal variety
Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, March 9: Tribal women knocked on the doors of houses around Bhubaneswar today displaying huge cut-outs of Bt Brinjal asking residents to oppose the introduction of Bt Brinjal varities in the state.
They visited many houses in Chandrashekarpur, Sahid Nagar, Bapuji Nagar, Nayapally, MLA colony and OUAT colony. They were assisted by Pradyut, the co-ordinator of the campaign against Bt. Brinjal.
Orissa Nari Samaj (ONS), a federation of 54 block level organizations spread across 12 districts of the state, organised the protest.
Pradyut said that unless consumers woke up and protested along with farmers the movement could not be successful. The challenge to the consumers posed by the ONS was: “If you don't want to be a lab-rat, register your protest against Bt. Brinjal. Awake, Act, Act Now."
The Orissa Nari Samaj alleged that the state agriculture minister had promised that Bt. Brinjal would not be allowed in the state, but that there had been back-door attempts to carry out trials by the OUAT.
Orissa Nari Samaj and THREAD, another NGO which has spearheaded the movement against Bt. Brinjal since 2005, alleged that the vegetable was dangerous.
Orissa Nari Samaj asked: "Who is sponsoring the trial? If Monsanto or American institutions sponsor the trial, then one can not expect any truth from it. Why should Orissa take up this trial when we don't have any problem in our brinjal cultivation, which has over 350 varieties? Who will benefit from this trial? Is OUAT aware that the bio-diversity of Orissa will be affected if Bt. Brinjal is even tested here? Can they guarantee that they will ensure non-contamination by cross-pollination?
Orissa Nari Samaj and THREAD, which is spreading organic farming in the state on a large scale, are concerned that high wind velocity during the summer will increase the chances of cross-pollination.
Mr G John, the executive director of THREAD, questioned the need for the trial when farmers are completely dependent on the income from varieties of native brinjals which have produced no side effects. A recent French study suggests that Bt. Brinjal produces a protein which induces resistance to Kanamycin, a common antibiotic, ONS activists said.
"Rats fed on the brinjals suffered from diarrhoea, weight loss and increased water-consumption. In cows fed with Bt Brinjal, the composition of their milk changed," they alleged.
"It is time that all consumers take note of this issue and speak out against these crops. They should reject all genetically-modified crops sneaking silently into our food systems."
Orissa Nari Samaj demanded a clear policy on GM and supported the declaration of the state as a GM-free organic agricultural state.