Calls for a movement to reclaim seed sovereignty

Our Bureau

Hyderabad, May 18

Noted environment activist Ms Vandana Shiva has alleged that Bt cotton was responsible for the increased cost of farm production and indebtedness of farmers, forcing many of them to end their life.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, she called for a moratorium on cotton planting and an independent study of the socio, economic, environmental and health impacts of Bt cotton.

Ms Shiva was here as part of the 20-day, three-State `

beej yatra

' to promote `

desi

seeds' and sustainable agriculture. It would also promote "GMO-free, patent-free, debt-free and suicide-free zones in the country," she said.

She expressed concern over the proposed Seed Act, which might destroy native varieties and leave farmers completely dependent on unreliable GM (genetically modified) seeds from corporations like Monsanto.

Stressing on the need to develop a strong base for `

desi

seeds', she said seed played an important role in farming activity. "It decides what amount of water, fertilisers, power and pesticides are needed. Organic farming will stop the vicious cycle of debt and make them self-sustaining. Reclaiming seed sovereignty is vital for reducing rural indebtedness," she observed.

Ms Shiva, who heads the Delhi-based Navadanya Trust, said the trust was launching a People's Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture to increase awareness on sustainable agriculture, genetically modified organisms and their impact on the environment.

Beej Yatras

The trust plans to take such campaigns to Punjab and other wheat-growing regions in the country.

Mr K. Ramakrishna, a senior CPI leader and President of AP Ryotu Sangham, said indebtedness was solely responsible for the increasing number of suicides.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 19, 2006)
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