We, the farmers of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Chattisgarh and Uttaranchal, along with farmers’ groups from Italy, Spain, South Africa, Canada and France have gathered in Amritha Bhoomi in Chamarajanagar and for the international symposium on “Seeds and Genetic Engineering in Agriculture”. We have collectively acknowledged that:
- GM technology poses a serious and immediate threat to our life security and livelihoods, our food security, health of the environment and the people. We recognize that this is being thrust on us solely to promote the interests of agri-business corporations
- Chemical farming, thrust on us in the past fifty years has inflicted tremendous damage to our environment and health and that no lessons have been learnt by the government on such aggressive agricultural technologies and approaches. Worse, no accountability has been fixed so far for the massive damage and disaster that the first Green Revolution had brought about.
- The Indian government, instead of protecting and upholding farmers’ rights is trying to bring in legislations like the proposed Seeds Bill 2004, which attempt to criminalize farmers in the sphere of their traditional, apriori rights of saving and sharing seeds. We oppose this Bill for its intent and content.
- Farmers’ rights related to seed ownership on their own varieties and landraces is currently being denied and violated and we condemn this strongly
- Introduction of Bt Cotton had accentuated the agrarian crisis in the Indian countryside and has increased farmer suicides in many places. This is a blunder that the Indian government is squarely responsible for and India cannot afford a repetition of this with any other crop nor with newer releases of Bt Cotton
- Bt Cotton teaches India valuable lessons about the dangers of the GM technology in a country like India. The technology has been a failure in the country and the distress of farmers has been compounded by a total failure of regulation. We condemn the fact that there has been no liability fixed for the failure of the crop or regulation, however.
We therefore demand:
1. The Indian government say NO TO GM IN AGRICULTURE AND FOOD and therefore, stop with immediate effect all the experimentation with regard to GM crops, to ban any GM imports into the country and to stop any more approvals
2. The Indian government and the state governments stop promoting chemical farming
3. The Indian government and the state governments to support non-chemical sustainable farming, in favour of farmers and domestic markets
4. The Indian government and Parliament should not bring in the Seeds Bill 2004 and should re-draft a legislation that fixes accountability on seed trade companies to protect farmers’ interests. Such a legislation should be based on wide-spread, broad-scoped debates with all stakeholders, including state governments, farmers’ organizations and civil society representatives
5. The Indian government explicitly recognizes the constitutional space available to farmers and pro-actively provide legal spaces for farmers to exercise their apriori rights to protect their bio-cultural heritage including their genetic resources (currently collected as gene banks in various agricultural institutions), including stopping all biopiracy of traditional resources and knowledge.
6. The Indian government to retract approvals provided to Bt Cotton so far and to take responsibility to clean up the contamination from Bt Cotton cultivation in the past four years and the companies and state governments to pay up compensation for the failure and damage experienced by farmers
Mysore, 17 April 2006