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Chat on "GM Foods and Bio-diversity" dated March 18, 2008

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    Susan  Welcome to IWC chat on "GM Foods and

    saraswati  Hello susan 
    Susan  Hi welcome
    Susan  Till others start coming in, may be you can

    give an inrodn about the topic 
    saraswati  Hello everyone. About todays topic - GM

    Foods and Bio diversity. Simply put the future will

    be either GM FOOD or BIO DIVERSITY 
    saraswati  We are right now faced with an either or

    situation. There is no middle path...if we say yes to

    GM Crops today, we can say goodbye to Biodiversity...

    Susan  isn't that too harsh a view? 
    saraswati  No, that is the only correct one... 
    saraswati  One which is brushed under the carpet by

    those who have a stake in the matters... 
    saraswati  When a genetically modified organism is

    introduced into an eco system it contaminates the

    surrounding ecosystem at the genetic level 
    Susan  explain in more detail please 
    saraswati  Thus a lot of the original species will

    get contaminated...take for example the cotton

    crop...where ever they planted GM Cotton, there is no

    normal variety cotton available to farmers 
    saraswati  The normal variety cotton planted next to

    a BT cotton field gets contaminated through cross

    Susan  Do you mean to say -if a farmer decides to

    plant normal cotton, it won't grow anymore in the

    same land?
    saraswati  through wind, bees, insects, butterflies,

    human beings, water, animals etc 
    saraswati  No it does not grow has been

    experienced by farmers
    saraswati  similarly since the normal cotton variety

    gets contaminated, it will have the GM

    the pure species will disappear 
    saraswati  And GM crops are coming up with terminator

    technology - that is the crop will not regenerate as

    it normally happens in nature... 
    saraswati  so, either we have a GM traited

    crops....or we will end up with seeds that die after

    the crop...can you imagine such a thing
    Susan  Which are the other major countries who have

    adopted GM tech?  
    saraswati  so each time a farmer has to go to the

    scientist/ the company to get his seeds....which have

    to be developed inside a lab 
    saraswati  Mostly it is the USA...almost in all

    countries including the UK, Europe and Australia,

    Africa and Latin America 
    saraswati  there is wide spread Consumer Protest and

    farmers protest against GMO's
    saraswati  The Companies manufacturing/engineering GM

    seeds are upto so much clandestine work...recently in

    West Bengal 
    Susan  I am still a little confused-Have these

    countries lost all bio-diversity?
    saraswati  a state that declared itself GM Free (by

    the state govt.)...Monsanto went and secretly planted

    BT OKRA (bhindi) in the middle of an adivasi area 
    saraswati  No, but in that particular crop the normal

    varieties disappear - like in the US and Canada, GM

    Soya, GM Corn, and GM Canola have wiped out the local

    SOYA, CORN and CANOLA seeds 
    saraswati  Like wise in India, we lost the local

    variety Cotton... 
    saraswati  And now they are bringing up GM Brinjal,

    GM Okra (lady's finger), GM Sorghum...the list goes

    Susan I see the point.
    saraswati  These are still in the testing

    stages...but if they are allowed commercial who do not understand this

    saraswati  ...will plant these crops due to the

    influence of heavy doses of advertising.... 
    Susan  When you go buying seeds ( vegetable) from the

    market -shops, nurseries,etc they sell 'hybrid seeds'

    It reads treated seeds on the cover. The bhindi seeds

    I planted came out real bad I wonder if...
    saraswati  and also the advice of the Agriculture

    departments, universities....all of which or atleast

    most of which have people on the pay rolls of these

    big companies...(underhand way) 
    Susan  The crop was plentiful but the bhindi hardened

    within two three days and were useless for cooking 
    saraswati  Well Hybrid seeds itself have wiped out a

    lot of our seed a way hybrid is

    harmless compared to the GM 
    Susan  Hybrid seeds are genetically modified too? 
    saraswati  because when you wish to go back to local

    varieties you still have a choice...that is if a

    farmer's neighbour grows hybrid seeds, this farmer

    still has the choice to use local variety seeds 
    saraswati  No Hybrid seeds are not Genetically

    Modified - it is a physical change...where the basic

    good qualities of both plants are taken and a hybrid

    is created 
    saraswati  It doesn't change the basic genetic

    Susan  I am really surprised that none else has

    turned up for the chat. 
    saraswati  The reason why Hybrid seeds wiped out

    local seeds is due to the non-usage of local

    varieties ...    
    saraswati  It is okay Susan...people don't realise

    things unless they suffer due to something 
    Susan  Is it because local varieties do not have a

    saraswati  Ten years ago...people didn't believe

    Climate Change was happening... 
    saraswati  No, not like that....i will explain...see

    during the Green Revolution...Hybrid seeds were

    introduced to increase the productivity of the crops 
    saraswati  Then what happened also due

    to the increased profits stopped growing local

    saraswati  So, when you don't grow a crop for a few

    generations...then there are no seeds isn't it? 
    saraswati  So, in the 1960's we had about 30,000

    varieties of Rice 
    saraswati  But today, we are growing only 10

    varieties of rice...mostly... 
    saraswati  But in small pockets where they are

    growing local seeds...especially in the adivasi

    areas...we can still get the local seeds... 
    saraswati  So, there are a few NGOs like Navdanya who

    have been collecting these seeds and are maintaining

    seed banks 
    Susan  I believe that Navadhanya (Vandana Shiva)is

    creating a seed bank. I wonder if someone is creating

    a seed bank of local vegetables too? 
    saraswati  But suppose if someone just throws a few

    GM seeds in these small pockets...or in places where

    we still have pure variety seeds...what can happen?

    All the pure seeds will go.... 
    saraswati  I think we all can contribute by growing

    our own vegetables from local seed varieties...that

    way we can preserve the seeds for the next generation

    saraswati  and also stay extremely healthy....i do

    think Vandana Shiva has vegetable seeds also 
    Susan  But where does one get the seeds? 
    saraswati  Why don't you go to Vandana's Navdanya and

    get the seeds from there? 
    saraswati  I know of a man in Bangalore who is

    growing Rice on his Terrace...  
    Susan  In A.P there is a big movement against GM

    seeds- Is anyone creating seed banks too? 
    saraswati  Yes, there are seed banks...I made a film

    on that last is called, SEEDS OF

    Susan  Yes, I will certainly look up Vandana's place

    in Delhi.
    Susan  Tell us more about that film please
    saraswati  Then there is the Deccan Development

    Society also have their seed banks... 
    Susan  Hi lilbumbee
    saraswati  Seeds of Sovereignty was first made in

    Telugu to alert farmers on the Seed Issue... 
    lilbumbee  Hi Susan   
    saraswati  hI Lilbumbee...
    lilbumbee  Hi Susan, Hi Saraswati 
    saraswati  we have been speaking so far

    you have anything to shoot?  
    lilbumbee  No I have no knowledge on this subject...I

    just dropped in to gain some  
    saraswati  Susan, I think it is upon every one of stop this madness...and then there is this

    issue of Health...
    saraswati  Just last week one farmer was saying he

    sold his Buffalo which became sterile since it fed on

    the GM Cotton fields... 
    Susan  Yes, I agree
    saraswati  By the way, Greenpeace is going to do a

    huge demonstration in Delhi on the 1st of May...on

    the issue  
    saraswati  they want people to take photos with their

    name, place, written along with the caption , "BAN GM

    saraswati  Written on a white Chart or something like

    that held in front of you.... 
    Susan  Growing our own organic vegetables-in pots

    too-can be a start
    saraswati  They plan to beam these pictures at the

    place of demonstration to show that there are many in

    the country who do not wish GMOs... 
    lilbumbee  Well I have been doing organic farming for

    last some years.....without much knowledge though 
    saraswati  I think they plan to do that in front of

    the in case you like you can send you

    picture too and spread the word...they will need the

    pictures digital) by april 20.... 
    lilbumbee  I use...cow dung manure and vermi compost 
    Susan  Sometimes Organizations get bigger than

    issues- the issue itself is not understood 
    saraswati  Susan, yes starting in your pot is a good must nuture the soil to get good results 
    saraswati  Lilbumbee...(do you have a short name?)

    where do you do your organic farming? 
    lilbumbee  you can call me bee...well I have my farms

    near nagpur and have been doing that for last 12

    saraswati  If you can read up the article on the

    Silent Revolution about the farmer called Subhash

    lilbumbee  I use...neem leaves and custrad apple

    leaves for pesticides  
    saraswati  Oh great...isn't that a great job? i am

    planning to become a farmer too... 
    lilbumbee  well it indeed is....less paying.....but

    yes...very satisfying 
    saraswati  Yes, that is the thing...also please try

    to collect as many original seeds as possible and

    make your own seed bank
    lilbumbee  seed bank....ok thats something I will

    have to learn about more and implement...  saraswati 

    How much land do you have? 
    Susan  custard apple leaves-I did not know they have

    anti pest properties
    saraswati  oh yes, there are plenty...
    lilbumbee  well I have about 16 odd acres near about 300 acres of ancestral land near

    Andhra Pradesh Border 
    saraswati  custard apple leaves, chilli-garlic

    concoction, neem leaves, neem seeds...cowdung and

    urine mixture
    saraswati  wow...bee you are stinking rich farmer... 
    Susan  Bee, if you start a vegetable seed bank -local

    seedsonly- I will put them up for online sale at
    saraswati  would you like to grow a little forest in

    the land that you own? 
    lilbumbee  LOL...thanks to my forefather...I have

    saraswati  Susan the concept of Sustainability is to

    depend on local resources only...normally seeds are

    lilbumbee  well susan..I will mail you for more

    infomation on that later....I would be interested in

    saraswati  never bought and it happens

    between farmers.... 
    Susan  Thank you Bee   
    Susan  We Indians are a thinking , intelligent lot I

    wish we can make more people aware by simple means on

    the ground- 
    saraswati  and the climatic zones differ

    what is good for Nagpur may not hold good for the

    Gangetic plains.... 
    saraswati  Bee...i will suggest you to go for a

    training camp with Subhash will love

    the training...
    lilbumbee  well about that forest thing...well I have

    about 6 acres of forest near nagpur...and I just

    bought another 7 acres near Tadoba National Park  
    Susan  If Swedish flower seeds can sell, why not our

    own - Local concept has to widen 
    saraswati  Susan, I think every little matters - so

    much as we would like to change the whole world, what

    you are doing right now is itself a wonderful thing
    Bee...when one farmer owns 300 acres of land, how

    many small farmers are getting deprived of their

    saraswati  Sorry to say this, but may I say something

    lilbumbee  ya that so true.... 
    Susan  Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people

    to attain uncommon results 
    saraswati  I am thinking more and more about the

    concept of property...  
    lilbumbee  but thats what I got from my

    grandpa....couldnt help that 
    saraswati  the reason why there is so much scramble

    for resources is that while some have it all and more

    than they need....there are hundreds others who

    cannot access the resources....  
    Susan  Saraswati, to sustain bio-diversity in these

    times, one has to think out of the box 
    saraswati  For me to become a farmer is a big

    decision because I am not planning to buy lot of

    land...(don't have the money nor inclination to do

    saraswati  i plan to hopefully get about 2 acres

    lilbumbee  Saraswati...where are you from ??? Coz I

    can gladly offer 2 acres of land to you...near

    saraswati  Yes, SUSAN you are right...we need to

    think out of the box.... 
    Susan  Farmer can be a state of mind too- I have a

    small kitchen garden - Living in the megacity that is

    Gurgaon where people have manicured gardens with

    exotic flowers I feel I can make a point by having a

    small organic garden 
    saraswati  I live in Hyderabad...and Nagpur I guess

    is too far...need to stay close here...I am involved

    in too many activities...campaigns etc 
    saraswati  Yes Susan...that is true to what you

    say...but I am thinking about migrating to a

    village...a few friends have thought of this idea of

    reverse migration 
    lilbumbee  :) well if you can guide me...I can take

    up some experiment with the local farmers around

    saraswati  And allso to grow my own food etc...unlike

    you, I have no plot of land...I live in an i have no choice 
    lilbumbee  Plus I do a bit of wildlife

    conservation...and move around in villages bordering

    the wildlife sancturies....maybe I can teach them

    something with your help... 
    saraswati  i need to find a small space

    somewhere...and just growing my own chillies and

    tomatoes in my balcony has given me a lot of peace

    and happiness
    lilbumbee  I would love to do that..... 
    Susan  Good luck to you Saraswati-I am sure you will

    find your two acres 
    saraswati  okay bee...that is a deal then...I will

    surely like to help...but we need to discuss that at

    saraswati  so we stay in touch over email 
    lilbumbee  sure...pass me you email ID...and I will

    mail you ...mine is 
    lilbumbee  I wont be in town for next 4 days.....I am

    going on partolling at pench national park...due to

    this holi thiongy....but I will surely get in touch

    with you after I am back 
    saraswati  susan, i think this is the way to network

    and try to do things in our own area... 
    saraswati  right now i am working with some farmers

    in Kadapa area...
    Susan  Saraswati thank you for coming by-your passion

    about the subject is infectious 
    saraswati  and there is a friend who is working in a

    different that...we all can bring

    saraswati  bee you can get in touch with the Centre

    for Sustainable agriculture 
    lilbumbee  Thats great....a small push..can be

    converted into a wave......a wave of change 
    saraswati  in Hyderabad - they are working with

    farmers in Vidarbha area of Maharashtra 
    saraswati  I think they would be more than happy if

    you like to take up the work in your area... 
    Susan  yes, I hope that the concrete work both of you

    do will inspire others. is always there for

    you to share your thoughts.
    lilbumbee  Vidarbha ??....that means Nagpur...
    saraswati  You get in touch with them - 040-27017735

    / 040-27014302 
    saraswati  Call them after this fact

    right now they were conducting a week long training

    on sustainable agriculture 
    saraswati  so they are busy with the training right

    lilbumbee  ok
    saraswati  Hi susan...sorry I was just taking off...I

    plan to go see Vandana shiva...they also do trainings

    of one week long 
    Susan  Saraswati, one hour time is up, can we sum up?

    saraswati  so, you could go there learn a

    little more...  lilbumbee  great... 
    saraswati  Okay Susan since there weren't many we

    just went off on our own ways... lilbumbee  even I

    need to go now...I will get in touch with both of you

    after 4 days... 
    Susan  Thank you, bee  
    saraswati  Okay good luck bee
    lilbumbee  thanks for all the information and

    lilbumbee  bye susan ...bye saraswati...  
    Susan  Shall we call it a day? I will send you the

    link when we publish the transcript. 
    saraswati  You are welcome and bye... 
    saraswati  Yes, susan, it is time for my Organic


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