Fighting back in the Punjab
Now Greenpeace and the Punjab-based NGO, Media Artists, are working to help farmers begin to fight back.
For more on the excellent 'Bitter Harvest' series, including how to listen online: http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5152
Greenpeace marks its presence in Punjab
Ludhiana, April 25:
After making an effective campaign against genetically modified crops in southern and central Indian states, international Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Greenpeace has now made its presence felt in Punjab.
The first step taken by this NGO is the distribution of a legal kit which the group has put together to educate farmers on how they can sue a multi-national company in case they feel cheated by it. The kit, originally in Hindi, has been translated into Punjabi for the benefit of local farmers by the Punjab-based civic group, Media Artists.
Explaining the contents of the kit Thangamma Monnappa, a Greenpeace campaigner said, "The kit has been prepared keeping in mind the experiences of farmers who have already gone through the bitter experience of growing Bt cotton. The promises made by the company regarding high yield or low pest attack etc have fallen flat. And with no safety net provided by state governments, the farmers need to be aware how they can fight for compensations in consumer court."
Thangamma adds that in Andhra Pradesh, the state government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the company selling Bt cotton seeds, that in case their claims fail, the company will have to compensate the farmers.
"This kind of security net is missing in Punjab where the state government is not acting as a neutral agent but is rather asking the farmers to grow Bt cotton. This technology has failed in both central and south India and may meet with the same fate in Punjab too. We have prepared the document in order to equip the farmers on how they can taken on the seed company themselves."
Adds Jatinder Preet, Coordinator of the Media Artists group which has translated the document in Punjabi, "We have given local contact numbers too for the convenience of the farmers. We plan to disseminate this document statewide at panchayat level, concentrating more on the cotton belt."