India - No alla melanzana modificata .. adesso tocca al cotone!

24 / 2 / 2010

L'introduzione della melanzana Geneticamente Modificata (BT Brinjal) era stata dichiarata possibile da una commissione governativa dopo una pseudo analisi scientifica.
L'analisi sulla possibile tossicita' dell'ortaggio GM, era stata fatta in maniera sbrigativa, superficiale e sotto la continua a pressante "influenza" di Mahyco (la filiale indiana della Monsanto), l'azienda proprietaria della melanzana GM, nonche' ... partecipante alla ricerca! cointrollato e controllore....
In questo clima, la ricerca ha superficialmente indicato l'assenza di effetti tossici e la commissione governativa, senza ulteriori approfondimenti, aveva spianato la strada per l'inizio della commercializzazione della melanzana GM.

La decisione della commissione ha pero' trovato una ferma, determinata e molto ampia opposizione nel paese, animata dai movimenti degli agricoltori, da una rete di associazioni e da intellettuali ed opinionisti vari. Il ministro dell'ambiente ha quindi dovuto sospendere la corsa verso la commercializzazione ed ha aperto una serie di incontri per un confronto tra i soggetti interessati. Gli incontri sono stati segnati da una forte presenza dei movimenti di opposizione, che hanno travolto i disperati tentativi delle aziende Bio Tech di cammellare dei figuranti a contratto con dichiarazioni adoranti per le Bio Tecnologie, un tentativo impossibile: le proteste hanno rubato la scena.

Infine la moratoria: marcia indietro del governo, stop alla commercializzazione, richieste nuove e credibili ricerche ed analisi, ed eventuale introduzione solo in caso di non tossicita' dimostata. Un colpo dal basso ai giganti del Bio Tech.
La pressione di queste potentissime lobby tornera' certo a pesare nei corridoi dei palazzi dei governi, ma il precedente sara' utile in futuro per continuare l'opposizione: il movimento rilancia, adesso va bloccato il cotone GM.

A poca distanza arrriva una altra importante notizia: il mangime GM danneggia fegato e reni dei mammiferi, e lo ha scoperto la Monsanto stessa! Questi erano i risultati di una ricerca interna che l'azienda ha cercato di tenere segreti. Solo grazie ad una corte di tribunale i dati sono stati resi accessibili, e dopo essere stati analizzati, hanno rivelato la tossicita' che la Monsanto non voleva rendere pubblici. E si dice che questa notizia sia la ragione della decisione del governo italiano di non procedere con l'introduzione del mangime GM in Italia.

Il controllo (e la manipolazione} della conoscenza e dell'informazione si confermano un fondamentale campo di battaglia nella lotta contro l'aziendalismo amorale.

allegata anche una buona presentazione della questione/melanzana BT che sottoposta anche a reggio per la rivista

alcuni link:


OGM: Malthus, l'India e la melanzana bio tech

It was hackneyed, to say the least, the way Malthusian arguments were being thrown around for bringing in Bt Brinjal into India. We need GM technology to feed the growing billions, they said in editorials and media statements. We even heard the Minister of State for Agriculture say that now that the Food Security Act will be enacted soon, we would need GM crops like Bt Brinjal! Sorry, did we hear you right? We will grow more brinjals to take care of food security in India, did you say and we will feed toxic brinjals to the “hungry masses” to appease their hunger?  

For people who have been studying the current agrarian crisis in India, the food crisis is also linked to the agrarian crisis; the agrarian crisis can be traced back to wrong, treadmill technologies that are proffered to farmers, the neglect of agriculture as a sector, the pricing out of farmers’ produce in the markets etc. Impoverishing farmers would mean that in an already inequitable society with many landless workers and marginal peasants dependent on these farmers, many more would go hungrier than ever before and would be displaced from rural India. The food crisis is not about production as the Malthusian-enthusiasts would have us believe and has never been. It is about equitable distribution and access, which can never be addressed without sustainable livelihoods for everyone, including access to productive resources. True, the food crisis centred around lack of access to food even during record production and procurement years has always been around thanks to economic, social, regional, gender inequities in India but anyone with a little bit of intelligence can see that if the rural economy is crippled, we will only exacerbate the situation. 

The agrarian crisis itself can be connected to technologies that have been deployed in the name of “modern agriculture”, which asked farmers to chase higher yields irrespective of anything else. ‘Treadmill’ technologies like chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides increased the cost of cultivation for farmers, entrapping them and expectably, the returns no longer match the investments made season after season. Meanwhile, productive resources like soils and water got eroded and contaminated. For example, a huge environmental health crisis is unfolding in Punjab, the food basket of the country. And the irony is that the players who gave us pesticides, assuring that there will be no adverse effects on anyone but the target insect, are now claiming the same thing with GM seeds, without being held liable for the damage caused by pesticides. Do we want to be naïve enough to trust the same guys to come up with a “new answer” for an ever-green revolution? Any debate on GM seeds and particularly Bt Brinjal - a Trojan Horse for irreversible corporate control over our farming – should be held in this larger context. 

Let us come to Bt Brinjal now - it will bring down external sprays of pesticides since the poison for killing certain pests will now be produced inside the plant, is the other rationale proffered. There are, however, scientists who argue that when we calculate pesticide usage, we should not forget that the pesticide is now being made 24 X 7 all the time inside the GM plant, as long as the crop is on the land, at high concentrations manifold toxic than what is required to kill the target pest.  I can see that some scientists would protest against this argument and say that this is only a new ‘protein’. However, what they will not tell you is that Bt toxins have been shown to cause impacts in mammalian studies too, related at least to allergies and immune system effects. While that is with Bt proteins, GM foods have been shown to cause more alarming effects too. 

An important question on this front centres around agricultural technologies that are short-sighted and not questioned by scientists themselves. And please, don’t think that this is a discussion that pertains to only distant farmers in some remote villages. No, it also pertains to all of us since agricultural technologies, more than most other technologies, have a way of leaving a large and lasting impact. The reasons are clear: the largest amount of land around us is under farming, with most natural resources here put to use for agriculture, with the largest number of people surviving on farming and most importantly, the food that we all consume being produced through farming! Remember where the pesticides in that bottled water and soft drinks came from? These toxins certainly have a way of reaching you too and therefore, engaging in this debate is actually part of citizenship, I would argue. 

Let us come to technologies for pest management, the reason why pesticides were first brought in and now, GM seeds. The pesticides paradigm was centred around some chemical molecules that have by now left their poisonous impacts on many communities. The new paradigm is being brought down to genetic level solutions through breeding. In both cases, one has forgotten that there are a lot of alternatives that rely on environment management in an eco-systems approach. In this approach, we need neither poisonous chemical pesticides nor toxic GM seeds. However, rather than look at alternatives available here, to be spread to more and more farmers urgently, the policy makers and the scientists seem to be using a faulty framework of comparing one evil against the other.  

These alternatives have been evolved by farmers, civil society groups as well as by the National Agricultural Research System too. These include fairly simple techniques and practices like installation of pheromone traps to trap adult moths, release of trichogramma, setting up water traps, mechanical clipping of infested shoots, neem-based applications, inter-cropping with coriander and so on. However, no political will has been shown by the government to take these to farmers who are trying to get out of the pesticides trap. 

Unfortunately, pest management is more and more being brought down to a strategy of using the Bt gene (genes derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thurengiensis) in a variety of crops around millions of acres in this country (if more Bt crops are allowed). Even a child would tell you that this is an unscientific, unwise and unsustainable thing to do, if we are really serious about food security and farmers’ livelihoods! 

So, why not take these alternatives that are already available, that are safer, sustainable, affordable and farmer-controlled to more and more farmers? The answer, somewhat simplistically put is: who will then provide markets, that too perpetual, for these companies? If the companies are not around, who will provide more and more projects for the agri-research bodies? Without the agri-research bodies, what will the agriculture departments recommend to farmers? It is all one nice vicious cycle you see. Who cares about the farmers and those aware consumers, in any case?  

- Kavitha Kuruganti and Umendra Dutt are part of Kheti Virasat Mission, a movement that seeks to promote ecological farming in Punjab


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