Greetings! As you are aware, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee [GEAC], Government of India, is likely to take a decision on whether it would approve large scale field trials and seed production of Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop to reach such an advanced stage of experimentation in India. This decision is likely to emerge in the meeting of the GEAC scheduled on August 9 th, 2006. Prior to this, the GEAC had put up biosafety claims of the company promoting Bt Brinjal on its website and had called for feedback from all stakeholders. As you know, civil society groups including the Bhartiya Kissan Union had raised several concerns with regard to the need for Bt Brinjal as well as on its reported biosafety. While the decision of the GEAC on the 9th of August is awaited, Bhartiya Kissan Union – Punjab is organizing a one day Round Table on "Bt Brinjal & Other GM crops – Implications" on August 10 th 2006, in Ludhiana. This Round Table is an attempt to better understand the implications of GM crops for Indian agriculture as well as an endeavour for alliance-building for creating a GM-Free India, including a GM-Free Punjab. Even as states like Uttaranchal have announced that there will be no permission granted for GM crop trials in the state and declared themselves organic, states like Punjab are yet to understand the full implications of GM crops, their safety, their very need, the long term sustainability of such technologies and so on.
As the country stands on the threshold of a 'second green revolution', it becomes important for Punjab to create a vision for its agriculture. Such a vision has to be born out of broad-based debates on the technologies and support structures to be adopted for the second green revolution not to end in a similar ecological disaster as the first one and for Punjab to be a leader amongst all states of India in evolving a vision that ensures productivity as well as ecological conservation.
It is hoped that the Round Table on August 10th would be able to bring leading experts on the issue of GM technologies, with agriculture scientists, medical professionals, farmers' unions, consumer unions, policy analysts, media representatives, policy-makers and other officials coming together to discuss in depth the implications of GM crops as well as to create a common plan of action for getting Punjab to be GM-Free. The decision of the GEAC the previous day would also obviously guide the discussions in the Round Table.
We wish to extend a warm invitation to you to join us in the Round Table discussions on August 10 th. The venue is to be finalized soon. Meanwhile, we request you to please confirm your participation in the Round Table to Shri Manjit Singh Kadian, President, BKU-Punjab at 09872768288 or to Shri Harvinder Singh, Secretary at 09815333691. The address of BKU in Ludhiana is: BKU, Basti Abdullapur; Chhatarsingh Park, Near bus stand, Ludhiana. BKU will direct you to the venue if you can get in touch with either Shri Kadian or Shri Harvinder Singh on their telephone numbers. Given that this meeting is being organised by a farmers' organisation working on limited resources, we hope that you will be able to bear your own travel expenses to the meeting. Thanking you,
July 26, 2006