Saturday, October 22, 2016

Is Modi Sarkar, BJP as pro-GMO as Congress?

Honest question: If Modi is our PM and he's all pro-organic, pro-desi, anti-GMO etc, then WHY has this become necessary? (see poster below) If he's not a pro-corporate GMO-pusher but the people around him are and if these simple ground realities aren't getting through to him and he's not getting rid of the scums selling the country out, then isn't this the same case as it was with Manmohan Singh after which the country concluded they're better off without such a leadership? What difference remains between BJP and Congress if their behaviour regarding something as crucial as GMOs is nearly identical? Heck, it was actually a lot less secretive and clandestine during congress's time. Was there really any difference to even begin with, or was the 'desi' difference all just a charade for grabbing votes?  

#sochahai #duopoly #blackmoneyfunding

Related links, excerpts and comments (these will also be shared in my omnibus Interesting Links post at month-end but I think it's important to include them here for giving the reader a larger context of what's really going on):
Government looks to press ahead with GM mustard (13 Oct'16)
>> serious lying going on here. "Consultations at the highest levels in government have concluded that the GM crop has benefits" >> what conclusion? What "highest levels"? Are they implying that the PM's office has concluded this? Even the safety data has not been released. SC-appointed member of GEAC, Pushpa Bhargava has openly stated criticism that allowing commercial use would be disastrous as multinational organisations would take over Indian agriculture. Was this consultation dropped? Where is the conclusion?
... "Though there might be some delay as the government re-engages anti-GM opinion, the direction seems to be in favour of commercial release. "
>> so TOI states that Modi Sarkar, BJP is pro-GMO. Can we please be clear about this, confirm it once and for all and make our next electoral decisions accordingly?
Sangh Parivar groups fighting GM mustard run into a new opponent – Sangh Parivar groups
A few organisations linked to the RSS are pushing acceptance of genetically modified mustard as it comes up for regulatory approval.
... The strategy is simple: get an impressive number of scientists specialising in genetic modification, among them a clutch of former ICAR heavyweights, to talk about the benefits of the technology and the urgent need for India to adopt it. Also, rope in the top companies selling GM seeds, such as Mahyco (it is partly owned by global agribiotech giant Monsanto), to talk about the food security concerns in India and the need to improve the economic condition of the country's impoverished farmers.
... Playing a pivotal role in putting it all together is an unlikely figure – Ashok Chowgule, executive director of Chowgule & Company, a large Goa-based industrial group with interests in iron ore mineral, shipbuilding, industrial explosives among others. Although agriculture is far removed from his business interests, Chowgule is passionate about GM technology as "the way forward" for agriculture. In his newfound zeal, the corporate executive has been a godsend to the pro-GM groups.
... In an interview with this writer, Chowgule says the objective of the Pune symposium was to find out "how we can together, project the right picture to the people at large. And try and wean away the people from the emotionalised campaign of the anti-GMO activists". He accuses them of being not only "anti-science but they conduct themselves in an unethical way by projecting the technology as causing harm". He singles out Vandana Shiva, champion of sustainable agriculture, and Greenpeace for knowingly spreading falsehoods about the dangers of GM technology. Even though "they have been exposed", they have been able to "intellectually terrorise the government authorities all over the world into doing their bidding", says Chowgule.
... It is significant that Gujarat, unlike neighbouring states, has not allowed field trials of GM food crops.
... The controversial GM mustard is a hybrid variety called DMH 11 and it was tested in Rajasthan and Punjab. In a research project funded by the National Dairy Development Board, the supposedly high-yielding variety was developed by Delhi University genetics professor Deepak Pental at the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants.
... Cloak of secrecy : Since the Modi government came to power, the regulatory process on GM has been brought under a tighter cloak of secrecy. Even innocuous information such as the agenda of GEAC meetings is no longer publicly available, much less what is being approved and how it was done.
... that repeated efforts including RTI requests have remained unanswered since 2006. In the latest RTI query, biosafety information was denied to ASHA on the grounds that "it was under process" although under a Supreme Court order all biosafety reports, the biology of the crop and related literature have to be placed in the public domain.
Officially shy, but Narendra Modi govt weighs GM options
>> got this on email. Imp note by sharer: Envi Min Prakash Javdekar is pro GM n he is supporting Sharad Pawar for GM sugarcane in the name of drought. Surprisingly they do not want to advertise about traditional organic farming technics, some of which use just 10 % water for sugarcane and with zero chemical gives more tonnage and more sugar per 100 KG of sugarcane.
Gujarat farmers' body, 3 APMCs join chorus against GM mustard
GM trials: Sharad Pawar tells PM Modi to scrap rule Jairam brought
Ramesh, then environment minister, had made it mandatory for developers of GM varieties to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the concerned state government before going ahead with field trial.
>> note from sharer: This industry man gets active only on useless things like this, of course. No time to look at issues like farm suicides but lots of time to send off industry-penned letters.
When will you speak on GM crops, Mr Modi?
>> this one's a pro-GMO one, but raises the same v.imp question : why can't our PM do a Mann-ki-Baat on GMOs? Why not take a stand? Is it because he's in a situation where he's going to loose supporters one way and funders the other? Is there a conflict of interest between nation's interests and funders' interests?
Many States skip meet on GM crops
... They also allege that results of tests on GM mustard weren't fully open to public scrutiny and the clearance violates recommendations of a Supreme Court-constituted expert committee on how GM crops ought to be tested. The Supreme Court is yet to pass an order on these issues.
>> so with the matter still pending in court, Central govt is still pushing GMOs ahead.
Farmer Unions, Scientists, and Consumers write to Modi urging him to Stop GM Mustard as GM regulators close public feedback time, without putting out data in public domain - Press Release by Coalition For A GM Free India
Over 700 comments received on GM Mustard: Environment Ministry
GM Mustard: No deadline extension for feedback on biosafety
Not simply a vision thing (about GMOs)
... Building promises is very similar to building facts, notes Cynthia Selin who studies the intersection of science, technology and society. It is the promise and vision of the future that then becomes key in generating a constellation that provides social and political legitimacy on the one hand, and much-needed financial resources on the other. Bt cotton, Bt brinjal and many technologies of the future exist through the expectations they generate and mobilise about the future. The act of developing a technology, therefore, is as much work inside the laboratory as it should be of engaging with the state and society and with their various concerns and questions. This will not be possible if the public is seen as ignorant or ill-informed, and the activist reactionary or an agent of vested interests. The contestation is, in fact, over the vision of S&T, of society and, for that matter, of the future itself.
.. In the case of GM mustard, work was done at Delhi University using public money provided by the government. And yet it needed the Central Information Commissioner to say that biosafety data around GM organisms should be available in the public domain.
... What explains, for instance, this deficit of trust in the public and in democratic mechanisms set up by the very institutions that provide the resources and the legitimacy for these new technologies? Is it an anxiety about failure of the technologist or of the technology itself? Or is it about the stakes involved in the socio-technical-economic system that has been mobilised to create the legitimacy in the first place? Does it say something about the potential failure of an imaginary technology that is based exclusively on the promise of the future? Can the narrative be one of hope and promise alone with no space for doubt or the possibility of any failure at all?
... TV 2035 (India's Technology Vision 2035) sees people opposed to certain technologies like nuclear and big dams as a barrier to their dreams. These then need to be addressed through better governance and not better technological design because "bottlenecks lie in policy and not technology".
Monsanto stops release of new Bt cotton tech
>> from Aug 2016. Relevant? Bayer has bought Monsanto, now they'll release it.

Side thing that came out in this article:
... On a visit to Kashmir, a conciliatory Home Minister Rajnath Singh offered to engage with anyone who was interested in finding a solution to the crisis there. "I will be staying at the Nehru Guest House. Those who believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat are welcome," he tweeted in an effort to reach out to all. It was as much an invocation of the political and the democratic promise as it was of the technological promise of modern communications. The irony only came forth when he was asked how this message of the Home Minister would reach the people when the government itself had blocked Internet services.
>> whoa, smack down! He did not ensure to spread the message out in printed flyers, posters etc.. just tweeted it while an internet blackout was going on in Kashmir. Which means the tweet wasn't for Kashmiris, it was to impress the twitterrati and the media to convey an image of dialogue-friendliness.
RSS outfit faces 'anti-national' barb over genetically modified crop event
>> fact-check here : "discredited" Seralini has won a court case proving his discrediting was illegal. He's been re-credited. HT missed mentioning that.
Is Modi preparing to defy RSS outfit on GM mustard rollout?
... At a meeting held in August, Modi had called upon three cabinet ministers and four top bureaucrats to carry out a thorough and speedy assessment of GM mustard. Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, environment minister Anil Dave, science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan and the secretaries of these ministries had attended the meeting, two sources have told HT.
Modi watched a presentation by the biotechnology department on GM mustard and then got a lowdown from Prof Deepak Pental – the lead scientist behind the project. Analysts view this as a sign that Modi favours GM technology as a policy option in agriculture.
... In its 2014 election manifesto, the BJP had said GM crops would not be allowed without a study of its "long-term" effects.
... "GM is not acceptable," Ashwini Mahajan, leader of the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch, told HT. "We provided proof to the Prime Minister that GM mustard is neither indigenous nor capable of providing high yields. It will ultimately benefit multinationals like Bayer."
Don't give go ahead to GM mustard, farmers and activists tell MP govt
Cross spice - Gene-modified, herbicide-tolerant mustard could be marketed from October
... Organic farmers fear a loss of demand once the new crop is introduced. "We told the minister that there is an imminent threat to our status as organic farmers, right to free choice, seed autonomy and biodiversity," said Neelam, a woman farmer from Jhajjar, Haryana. "GM mustard will destroy not just organic farming, but also purity of centuries-old traditional mustard varieties forever."
... Kavitha Kuruganti, convener of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture, said members of the GEAC had conflict of interest. In addition to Sesikeran's case, she named Dr C.R. Babu, pro vice chancellor of Delhi University. She said Babu and Deepak Pental, developer of DHM-11, were "from the same university and were good friends".
Government stares at Bt brinjal moment before taking call on GM mustard
No commercial release of GM mustard for now (8 Oct '16)
... The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop in India and asked the central government to first take suggestion and views of the public on the controversial subject. A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice AM Khanwilkar told the Centre not to commercially release GM mustard till October 17, when it will hear the issue in detail. Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta agreed with the bench's direction.

An email from ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture):
Our reaction to media coverage on 7 "farmer organisations" urging the Prime Minister to rollout the commercialisation of GM mustard:

* More than 57 major farmer unions have already come out against the approval of GM mustard. These include Bhartiya Kisan Union, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, All India Kisan Sabha, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangh and others. Kisan Ekta has recently passed a detailed resolution on this matter in their last convention. Further, as per the National Policy for Farmers, beekeepers and women agricultural workers also are Farmers. More than 5 lakh beekeepers in India, through the Confederation of Beekeeping Industry of India have come out against the approval of GM mustard. Women agricultural workers associated with Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch are opposing GM mustard. Thousands of organic farmers around India are opposing GM mustard and through their outfit called Organic Farming Association of India have appealed to the Agriculture Minister to stop GM mustard.

* Some organisations that are part of this umbrella network called Rashtriya Progressive Kisan Association have a dubious background as regards their primary interests, whether they exist to support farm livelihoods or to promote corporate interests.

* One of the organisations appears to have been a front organisation for the agro-chemical industry in promoting chemicals in the past and this in itself could be read as an indication of the real intent of GM crop developers and the agri-chemical industry, of promoting the use of pesticides in the form of herbicides.

* It is strange that these organizations are asking specifically for GM-based hybrids in the name of farmers because there is no proof that GM-based hybrids are higher-yielding than CMS-based hybrids. These organizations should ask for proof for how GM-based hybrids are better, since GM mustard has not been tested against any other hybrids.

* While yield is not the only thing that determines farmers' net profitability, even on the yield front, to ask specifically for GM hybrids appears that these organisations are a front for someone else, given that the higher yields that they are looking for, after can be obtained through other hybrids as well as other means.

* It is important to note that the production and productivity can be addressed by addressing anti-farmer trade policies that are pricing out Indian farmers and not incentivising them towards oilseeds cultivation.

* In risky technologies which involve multiple stakeholders including consumers, beekeepers, honey exporters, ayurveda practitioners etc., the decision cannot be left to only one stakeholder to decide. This is the reason why regulation and policy in favour of sustainability and safety is needed in the first instance. 

International news:
Pope Francis Slams Biotech Industry and GMOs in World Food Day Letter
>> Holy Cow, the Pope is Anti-GMO and our "desi" PM isn't
>> a response to recent few Nobel Laureates' pro-GMO statement

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