Letter to Editor

Bt Brinjal is almost on your table

I have been trying to post a comment on this Indian Express article Bt Brinjal is almost on your table but it is not appearing – maybe there is a time lag.

Thousands of citizens have written to Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss to oppose GM foods in India. He too has stated that he opposes GM foods and will not allow Brinjal or other foods without sufficient research. Who conducts and interprets this research and who decides when it is sufficient? We are learning from studies elsewhere that crops modified with genes of other species pose serious health risks that may appear in 3rd or 4th generations. We cannot put ourselves, our land or our farmers at such risk.

Health Minister had this to say in response to thousands of voices which said “I am no lab rat”to him

“As a minister from PMK and also as the Union minister, I will continue opposing it. As far as the recent controversy is concerned Bt brinjal is being brought into the country without appropriate research on its safety. We should oppose it collectively. The ministry of health and family welfare as a policy will ensure that a holistic research ( on Bt brinjal) is done – including health impacts and farmer issues. We will definitely not allow it into India otherwise.”


Why are we advocating organic methods of farming?

Questions asked after Farmer’s Vigil

Why Organic?
Locally, people often use the phrase “Low-input Sustainable Agriculture” rather than “organic.” The aim is two-fold – to make agriculture remunerative to farmers and to make it sustainable year after year by enhancing the quality of the farm and the soil. This requires moving away from the Green Revolution paradigm of dependence on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and seeds from the market. In Vidarbha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttaranchal and elsewhere, farmers are successfully moving to methods which require very little expenditure on external inputs. What is more, these methods rejuvenate the soil at the end of the season so that agriculture is sustainable year after year. Organic farming is being successfully used even for crops like paddy, sugarcane and cotton.

You may read more about this on the AID Agri page which is updated with literature on pesticides & fertilizers, site visit reports to groups practicing organic or low-input sustainable agricutlure.


Resources on AID work in Livelihoods

Resources on AID work in Livelihoods: Agriculture, Land Rights, Labor, NREGA
How has AID worked with and learned from people’s efforts to sustain, restore and generate livelihoods?
Explore these resources to find out.

Livelihoods forum currently covers four overlapping themes: Agriculture, Land, Labor & NREGA.

AID website – Agriculture page stores a wealth of information on AID campaigns, projects and saathis working in agriculture, as well as resources for further reading.

Vigil for farmers
No GM: I Am No Labrat

Projects in Agriculture
Chetana Vikas
AID sustainable farming project with Chetana Vikas
Mozda Water Co-operatives
Surodi Watershed

Resource Persons
Sridhar– Thanal, stopping GM
Revathi:TOFarm, Mahanadhi – organic agriculture: Safety Net for Organic Farmers
Prasanna Health & sustainable agriculture
Reetu Sogani – traditional knowledge and sustainable agriculture

Recent Speakers P. Sainath | recent lecture in Austin video
Sudhir Goel, District Commissioner of Amaravati

Land Rights
Nisarga, working with agricultural workers, has helped many landless families secure government land for which they are legally eligible. AID Supported awareness programs on land rights in Visakha District.Land for Landless in Kondavedhi

AID supports traditional income generation projects assisting small groups in training in new skills, manufacturing & marketing products, and using these goods and services to earn income.

Some successful income generation projects have been:
Jivika: handloom, handspun (khadi) cotton garments and bags made in Srikakalam (AP) and Gajapati (Orissa)
Some Jivika products: kabbadi shirt | nursing kurta | hoodie
[new catalogue under construction]

Himmat:Women survivors of Naroda-Patiya carnage, joined together in 2003 and started training in sewing. Today 18 women manage the production unit, selling in the market and at exhibitions.
Article on Himmat in South Asian

SEWA:World renowned for empowering self-employed women, SEWA, with AID support, set up infrastructure to regulate the flow of raw material and finished handicrafts between the craftswomen and the market. AID also supported SEWA when it exhibited at Smithsonian Festival in Washington, DC(2002).

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)
NREGA GoI site: http://nrega.nic.in/
covers all of rural India, effective April 1, 2008
[announced in 200 districts on Feb 2, 2006, extended to additional 130 districts in 2007]

Projects to assist people in applying for jobs and demanding full and timely wages for work via NREGA:

Nisarga, Chittor
Nisarga, Visakha
SPS NREGA Consortium
AID – NREGA implementation in Visakha District
AID Bangalore Chapter – NREGA Rally at Bangalore
AID Publications – NREGA survey in Mathurapur
AID – NREGA work- Gumma Block, Gajapati Dist., Orissa
The South Asian: NREGA Audit in Orissa Finds Inconsistencies

Reflections on 2 years of NREGA in Economic & Political Weekly, 23 Feb 2008