THE Maharashtra agriculture university announced it would no longer allow field trials of GM food crops in its field at Kolhapur. The move came in the wake of a protest in March by hundreds of farmers and citizens against an open-air field test of GM corn seeds, produced by seed major Monsanto. The protest led to the constitution of a committee, which resulted in the decision of the ban. The university’s vice chancellor Rajaram Deshmukh said the remains of the GM corn crop would be destroyed.
Protestors in Maharashtra had questioned the safety of the tests and said the university didn’t have the permission to conduct open-air tests. Farmers were angry at the university’s decision to use public money to carry out the tests especially when Monsanto had filed cases against farmers for using their own seeds and not Monsanto’s. Referring to GM free areas in Europe, farmer leader N D Patil asked, “Why has the university not studied the reasons behind such rejections beforetaking decisions regarding field tests?”
He added the decision to conduct field trials should have been routed through the State Biotech Coordination Committee. The state government is yet to constitute the committee. A mandatory district level committee also did not exist. GM field trials involve large sums of money and there is every reason to doubt the university’s commitment, said Diliprao Deshmukh of the Maharashtra Organic Farming Federation.
It is indeed commendable of Vice-Chancellor, Raja Ram Deshmukh, to literally uproot GMO reasearch at Maharashtra Agriculture University. It is also a good idea to approach VCs of other universities to do the same under their jurisdiction.
This brings me back to re-stress education reform in not only the universities with the help of a few vice-chancellors but also in primary and secondary schools where agriculture and food production should be taught as a compulsory subject to each and every student. It is good time to pursue this discussion with central and state government authorities, now that the elections are over and Sharad Pawar is once more appointed as Minister of Agriculture. The key persons to target in this regard should not only be Sharad Pawar and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but also Rahul Gandhi who is being floated as the future prime minister. The same discussions must also be pursued with the opposition parties. It is high time to politicize this issue for the benefit of India and Indian farming.
Indeed it is a great news that MAU has banned GM field trials. We must send emails to them for taking such a great step that would go a long way for the survival of farming and farmers in India. CC of these emails should be addressed to PAU as well.
One of the phrases that is used in Persian which says : GAMOS, GAMOS (be patient, step by step).