The Robin Hood Army: fighting food waste in India and Pakistan


The Robin Hood Army are taking on food waste in India and Pakistan by redistributing food waste from restaurants and weddings and giving it the hungry

Robin Hood
 The Robin Hood Army started with six and is now an international movement. Photograph: Robin Hood Army/Robin Hood Army

Last August, a group of six young Indians took to the streets of Delhi with one simple aim: to feed the homeless. Overnight, they drove to restaurants, collected unsold food, re-packaged it and gave it to around 100 people sleeping rough in the capital.

For 27-year-old Neel Ghose, it was a wake-up call. Friends, colleagues and strangers soon joined them on drives and their numbers began to swell. In less than a few months, a nationwide volunteer movement known as the Robin Hood Army (RHA) had emerged, on a mission to curb food waste and stamp out hunger.

Founders Ghose and Anand Sinha, also 27, were inspired by Refood International, an organisation based in Portugal. “Using a hyperlocal model, they collect excess food and give it to those who need it. But every community has their own Refood chapter,” explains Ghose. “I realised it was something that can be very easily done in India, where the need would be much more.”

The movement gained huge momentum after the launch of its social media campaign, and now boasts a 500-strong volunteer base spread out across 13 cities, including Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kolkata. In April, the group also began operations in neighbouring Pakistan, where volunteer groups sprang up in Karachi and Lahore.

Food in car

Pinterest
 Volunteers get ready to distribute food packages throughout the city. Photograph: Robin Hood Army

“Our Facebook page has helped us get in touch with restaurants and our posts became a form of accountability,” says Sarah Afridi, a volunteer who helped set up the group in Pakistan. Ghose agrees: “We realised that we would be much more legitimate if we showed restaurants pictures of what we were doing. That’s when things took a huge leap forward.”

The Robin Hood Army’s ideology revolves around decentralisation. Small teams, mostly young professionals, become responsible for specific areas; they scout for local restaurants, convince them to donate surplus food, identify clusters of people in need – such as the homeless and orphanages – and carry out weekly distributions.

“Anand and I don’t have to be in cities physically to set up our presence,” says Ghose. “We simply guide people on how to form communities for the RHA.” Sinha adds: “What’s happening at a grassroots level is completely driven by the locals.”

In Delhi and the National Capital Region alone, some 30 restaurants have been involved with the project, sometimes not only offering leftover food but cooking fresh meals for distribution.

Lawyer Suvarna Mandal, 26, and head of RHA’s social media Aarushi Batra, 24, both volunteer in the city and have distributed everything from biryani and dhal to sweet treats like cakes, brownies and biscuits. While they may not always have the healthiest foods to hand out, Mandal says: “We don’t look into the nutritional aspects per se, we just try to fill their stomachs.”

“Some restaurant owners even join them on drives,” Ghose explains later. “In a way, they’re not just helping the Robin Hood Army, they are the Robin Hood Army.”

During the Indian wedding season, which takes place between November and January, RHA groups also worked with caterers to make sure large amounts of uneaten food would be picked up, no matter how late at night. “It’s no secret that weddings in India are huge,” Batra tells me. “In Hyderabad, four of our volunteers fed around 970 people just with excess food from one wedding.”

According to the Centre for Development Communication (CDC), an NGO in Jaipur, there are an estimated 7m weddings in India during the season. Yet nearly one-fifth of all prepared food is thrown away – a staggering £1.6bn in wastage.

Like the RHA, the CDC developed the Annakshetra initiative, which redistributes food leftover solely from weddings, festivals and other lavish social gatherings. It was set up in 2010 after founder Dr Vivek Agrawal saw children salvaging food from piles of discarded food dumped outside a town marriage hall: “The way food is eaten and wasted in weddings is an eye-opener for everybody,” he says.

Robin Hood
 An advert on Robin Hood Army’s Facebook page encourages more volunteers to join the movement. Photograph: Robin Hood Army

Ravi Dhingra, who helps run the foundation, says networks of volunteers collect excess food directly from events, store it in fridges overnight and check it is fit for consumption before organising handouts in the morning. In 2012, up to 10,000 were fed solely on leftovers from 16 weddings held on Akshaya Tritiya, a day considered auspicious for Hindus to tie the knot.

When asked about the RHA’s work, Dhingra tells me: “Pioneering efforts like [theirs] demonstrate enormous opportunities to reduce food waste — and enhance food security worldwide.”

Yet Dhingra and Ghose also believe that while their initiatives are making a difference, there has to be more sustainable ways to tackle widespread food poverty in south Asia. “Food donations are not the solution to food wastage or poverty, [but] food redistribution can help alleviate [its] impacts,” Dhingra says.

According to the most recent Global Hunger Index, while India no longer ranks second-to-last for having the world’s most underweight children, its overall hunger status is still classified as “serious”. Meanwhile, it remains home to a quarter of the world’s undernourished people yet it wastes more than £4bn worth of fruit and vegetables a year. Ghose is well aware of the scale of the problem: “Right now, we feed around 5,000 people a week … In the bigger scheme of things, that’s still nothing.”

But with plans to expand into more areas and partnerships with university students in the pipeline, the RHA’s influence is poised to grow across the continent.

“We’re in an exciting time where more people want to bridge gaps in society,” Sinha says. “Through social media and through our volunteers, we can channel this energy and create something stronger out of this. The Robin Hood Army is just the beginning.”

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jun/02/the-robin-hood-army-fighting-food-waste-in-india-and-pakistan?CMP=share_btn_link

Resident of water contaminated areas ask the Govt of India when will the Union Carbide’s toxic waste be cleaned up?


Press Statement

On the occasion of World Environment Day residents from the neighbourhood of Union Carbide’s abandoned factory in Bhopal demonstrated against the Indian government’s failure in removing thousands of tons of poisonous waste for the last 19 years. Hundreds of residents stood in the form of a question mark and held a banner atop the mound below which the hazardous waste lies buried. The demonstrators said that the question mark was meant to signify the many unanswered questions about the ongoing contamination in an area greater than 20 square kilometres.

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According to five organizations who jointly organized today’s demonstration, several thousand tons of hazardous waste from the Union Carbide pesticide factory was buried under the mound in 1996 by the factory management. The waste is known to contain chemicals that cause cancers and birth defects and damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and the brain.

The organizations said that in October 2012 the Lucknow based Indian Institute of Toxicology Research had reported that the groundwater in 22 communities with 10, 000 resident families is contaminated. According to them further tests have shown that the contamination has spread beyond 22 communities and it will continue unless the buried waste is removed from the site.

“It is Union Carbide that buried the waste next to our homes. Why is the Indian government not able to make Union Carbide’s current owner Dow Chemical accept legal liability and clean up the toxic waste?” said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.

Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha condemned the Environment Minister’s recent refusal to seek help from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for a comprehensive scientific assessment of the depth, spread and nature of contamination. He said that without such assessment no clean up could even begin.

“Hundreds of children are being born with horrific birth defects because their parents drank contaminated ground water for upwards of 20 years. Unless the hazardous waste is excavated and disposed off safely, the toxic contamination will continue to maim generations to come.” said Nawab Khan, President of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.

Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that a legal petition for removal of the hazardous waste and clean up by Dow Chemical was pending before the Madhya Pradesh High Court for last 11 years. “It is shocking that the judges continue to drag their feet on an issue that concerns the destruction of lives and future of hundreds of unborn children.” he said.

“The saddest part of this second disaster in Bhopal is that it is finding new victims every day while government agencies that are supposed to protect our health and lives stand by doing nothing.” said Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide.

http://www.bhopal.net/resident-of-water-contaminated-areas-ask-the-govt-of-india-when-will-the-union-carbides-toxic-waste-be-cleaned-up/

Child nutrition is being held hostage – Eggs And Prejudice


Eggs And Prejudice

Child nutrition is being held hostage to spurious, largely upper caste, arguments.

Child nutrition, Child undernutrition, MP egg ban, egg ban mp, children egg ban, child malnutrition, child nutrition programmes, mp school egg ban, MP Child nutrition, school egg ban, indian express column, Reetika Khera column

It is unfair to sacrifice children’s right to nutrition to spurious anti-egg arguments from a small minority among the upper castes.

Written by Reetika Khera |Published on:June 6, 2015 12:09 am

Child nutrition is prime-time news only when a tragedy occurs. Child undernutrition is no less a tragedy but rarely recognised as such.

Attention to it, following the Madhya Pradesh chief minister’s rejection of a proposal to introduce eggs in anganwadis is significant and welcome.

Few people realise food intake in India is very poor. According to the 2005-06 National Family Health Survey, around 10 per cent of breastfed children aged six to 23 months had meat, fish, poultry, egg or milk products the day before the survey. Among children who are not breastfed, the figures are equally bad.

In a TV debate, a BJP spokesperson praised milk as the best source of protein, failing to mention that MP does not provide that either at anganwadis or schools. The urgent need to improve the quality of food provided in the mid-day meal (MDM) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) schemes has not been adequately recognised.

Cost is a major constraint. Allocations for child nutrition programmes are quite small (Rs 5-7 per child per day). Only states where the governmentis committed to the issues make additional allocations required to provide nutritious foods such as eggs. This year’s cuts in Central allocations for ICDS and MDM are likely to strain state budgets further.

Perishability and fear of adulteration impede improvements in food quality. Though milk and dal are protein-rich, both can easily be diluted and milk is perishable. Creative thinking can lead to solutions. In Karnataka, milk powder is supplied.

Eggs provide a nutritious and affordable solution. They contain all the nutrients (except vitamin C) required by small children and are generally more nutrient-rich than vegetarian options — without the problems of perishability and adulteration). People can easily monitor whether they have got their full entitlement, whereas that’s quite difficult with milk or dal. Further, eggs are important for infants, as they are nutrition-dense. In Odisha, eggs have emerged as the perfect “take-home ration” for children under three. Children also seem to love eggs.

At a mixed-caste governmentschool in Shimoga, Karnataka, when asked to raise their hand if they would like an egg, almost all hands went up.

Recent arguments for denying eggs to children and forcing vegetarianism on them include: the strongest animals, horses and elephants, are vegetarian; Sant Ravidas was vegetarian, so all Dalits should be like him; as Dalits cannot afford non-vegetarian food anyway, schools and anganwadis need not provide eggs; separate seating arrangements might be difficult to manage. Without saying it explicitly, the message has been clear: rather than hurt the sentiments of a few among the so-called upper castes, it is better to keep eggs out.

Caste resistance is an important part of why northern and western states do not provide eggs. Often, these arguments are disguised as “rational”. First, create an impression that if eggs are on the menu, vegetarians will be forced to eat them (ignoring that vegetarians can be given fruit instead). Then, dress it up as a “freedom to choose” issue. Ironically, those who deny free choice to non-vegetarians are the ones levelling this allegation.

Karnataka provides eggs in anganwadis, but not in school meals. Why? Quite likely, this is because the Akshaya Patra Foundation is a big player in the MDM programme but not in the ICDS. Since 2007, the BJP has resisted eggs. That year, two BJP leaders disagreed on the issue. When religious leaders opposed eggs, the governmentcaved in. The Congress is not very different. It announced eggs in the MDM scheme only for the northern nutritionally deprived districts, but even that has not taken off.

Instead of surrendering to the egg-resisters, states like MP and Karnataka should learn from others where opposition, if any, was overcome. It is unfair to sacrifice children’s right to nutrition to spurious anti-egg arguments from a small minority among the upper castes.

The writer is associate professor, economics, IIT Delhi

– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/eggs-and-prejudice/#sthash.ZL6tEPD7.dpuf

Jaitapur Nuclear Plant may trigger natural calamities


 

N-plant may trigger natural calamities: Activists on Jaitapur

9,900-MW project was cleared by Manmohan Singh govt and pushed by Prithviraj Chavan dispensation.

Jaitapur nuclear power project, maharashtra govt, devendra fadnavis, fadnavis govt, nuclear power plant, n-plant,World Environment Day ,mumbai news, city news, local news, maharashtra news, Indian Express

Jaitapur nuclear power plant (Source: PTI photo)

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |Published on:June 6, 2015 12:54 am

With the Maharashtra government reaffirming its commitment for the Jaitapur nuclear power project, researchers and activists have again raised their voices against the 9900 megawatt project, claiming it would cause “irreversible damage” to the environment.

“India can do without a nuclear power plant as it will only result in irreversible damage,” professor H M Desarda, a former member of the state planning commission, said. Desarda was addressing a gathering of researchers and activists on the occasion of World Environment Day today.

Desarda said the need of the hour was utilization of renewable sources of energy rather than setting up nuclear power stations. He added that renewable sources are economically more viable, safer and desirable.

The scientists based their opposition to the Jaitapur project on the fact that the area lies on a fault line, saying the country would more susceptible to natural calamities as a result.

Radiation expert Dr V T Padmanabhan cited figures regarding the Kudankulam plant. “Statistics from the region show that between 1900 and 1950, one earthquake of magnitude 7 on the Richter scale occurred every year. From 1950 till 2000, the number increased to 1.7 earthquakes a year. There were 15 earthquakes from 2000 till 2009 but from 2010 to 2015, 17 earthquakes of more than 7 magnitude have shaken the region,” he said.

The panelists cited a 2002 “site selection” report by Dr V K Chaturvedi, former chairman and managing director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. Madban plateau, chosen as the site of the atomic reactor, is geologically unstable as it is the region of active faults, the report says.

Marine biologist Dr Shashi Menon spoke of the possibility of a radioactive leak which can result in damage to marine life. “It can have massive impact on plankton, which forms the base of the food chain,” Menon added.

The 9,900-MW project was cleared by the Manmohan Singh governmentand pushed by the Prithviraj Chavan dispensation in Maharashtra. The present state government led by the BJP has committed its support to the project in spite of protests from its alliance partner Shiv Sena.

– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/n-plant-may-trigger-natural-calamities-activists-on-jaitapur/#sthash.jg3bcJEJ.dpuf

#India — Human Rights Violations against a lesbian couple


Saranya went back to her parents on 30 July 2013, after undergoing a lot of stress and `emotional blackmail’

Press Release

Bangalore, 1 Aug 2013: After undergoing a lot of stress and `emotional blackmail’, one of the two women, Saranya, who came to Bangalore from Kerala, went back to her parents on 30 July 2013. However, Shruthi returned to Bangalore on her own choice and pledged to fight the conservative system and appealed to everyone not to discriminate them.

Saranya’s father Mr. Mohanan filed a Habeas Corpus petition in the Kerala High Court where Saranya was represented by well-know advocate Mr. BT Venkatesh and Advocate Asha on 30 July. However, the court has allowed the parents to talk to the girl alone for over two hours but we felt that she was not given a chance to talk on her own. She was asked by court whether she would like to go back to her parents and she replied `Yes’ in a mono syllable. She was under duress and “emotional stress”.

Adressing a Press Conference at Press Club today, Senior Advocate and Human Rights Activist Mr BT Venkatesh, said: “I feel that court ought to have handled the matter in a more sensitive manner. It was visible that the girl was under great stress and it was also necessary that the girl ought to have been enquired in a friendly atmosphere which was not the case. We have seen, there is a crying need to form a set of guidelines in the matters relating to Habeas Corpus petitions seeking custody of women or girl child in particular. Absence of such guidelines, we have seen, resulted in women being pushed to traumatic situations more particularly when the families are oppressive. The case of Saranya, unfortunately, stands in that league.”

“Saranya’s father has been harassing her for the last few days and he has also made false allegations against Sangama. After watching the whole issue unfold in the last few days, It is clear, Saranya’s decision came after she was subjected to emotional blackmail,” said Gurukiran Kamath, Director, Sangama.

Two lesbians from Kerala, who ran away from their homes, have requested the support of Sangama, a human rights organisation working for Sexual Minorities, for legal support.

Sangama is a human rights organisation promoting and defending the rights of sexual minorities, sex workers and other oppressed communities and has been working with many organisations in Kerala for the last 13 years and from 2010 it has been directly doing local work from many districts of Kerala with the community based organizations of sexual minorities. The organisation has supported many women in distress from Kerala in the last 13 years.

“Saranya has clearly told her father and other members that she has come out on her own. But the pressure from home was so much that she was forced to go back. I am sure Saranya is not happy there. I want to talk to her and want know how she is,” said Shruthi, who chose to return back to Bangalore.

“When we talk about freedom, where is the freedom for women? In a democratic country, if an adult is not having freedom then it is against the constitutional morality, ” said Elavarthi Manohar, Joint Secretary, Praja Rajakiya Vedike.

Shubha Chacko, a women’s rights activist and Director of Aneka said: “We will take this issue to women’s movement to have a larger dialogue. We strongly demand the protection of women’s rights.”

For details call Gurukiran 9972903460 or the helpline 9901682151

Vedanta mining: amid Tribal ministry’s protest Odisha fixes Gram Sabha dates


Bhubaneswar, July 5, 2013

 The tribal busy at a paddy field at the foothills of Niyamgiri Hills in Kalhandi district of Odisha. In the background Vedanta Aluminium factory can be seen. A file photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury.

PTI

The Hindu The tribal busy at a paddy field at the foothills of Niyamgiri Hills in Kalhandi district of Odisha. In the background Vedanta Aluminium factory can be seen. A file photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury.

Ignoring objections by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the Odisha government on Friday announced dates for conducting Gram Sabhas in 12 villages of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to decide fate of the proposed bauxite mining for Vedanta atop Niyamgiri Hills.

“We have decided to hold Gram Sabha in 12 hill slope villages as per the April 18 Supreme Court order. While Gram Sabha will be held between July 18 and August 19 in seven villages of Rayagada district, similar exercise will be done between July 23 and 30 in five villages of Kalahandi district,” Odisha’s ST and SC development minister L B Himirika told reporters in Bhubaneswar.

To a question, Mr. Himirika said the state government had earlier decided to hold Gram Sabha in 12 limited villages and it would implement it. “We are going by the Apex Court’s order,” Mr. Himirika said sidestepping a question on the MoTA’s objection.

On April 18, the Supreme Court order asked the state government to hold gram sabhas to decide the fate of Vedanta’s plan to mine at Niyamgiri.

“We need at least 50 per cent attendance to conduct a gram sabha. One-third of them should be women. If quorum is not achieved, the gram sabha will be cancelled and conducted later,” Rayagada district collector Sashi Bhusan Padhi said.

Meanwhile, Odisha’s Advocate General (AG) in a report supported the state government’s decision in 12 hill slope villages of Niyamgiri. The state government had sought Law department and AG’s views on objections raised by MoTA.

Earlier, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs V Kishore Chandra Deo had said that limiting Gram Sabha proceedings to only 12 villages was not in accordance with the Supreme Court order dated April 18 and directions issued by the ministry under Section 12 of Forest Right Act (FRA).

Mr. Deo had also written a letter to Governor S C Jamir seeking his intervention in the matter, saying the areas where gram sabhas are proposed to be held fall under Schedule V categoty.

“The list of villages where rights of forest dwellers are guaranteed under the FRA or where cultural and religious rights are likely to be affected cannot be arbitrarily decided by the state government. It is to be decided by the people (Palli Sabha) where claims would be filed through a transparent manner so that no genuine Gram Sabha which has a legitimate claim is left out of the process. This is in line with Para 59 of the apex court judgement,” Vibha Puri Das, secretary, MoTA, had written to the state chief secretary recently.

The Ministry clarified that it had received several claims under FRA for various rights, including religious and cultural rights claimed over Niyamgiri forests and sacred areas from villages over and above the 12 villages selected by the state government.

It shows that Niyamgiri forests are shared by not just 12 villages, but many other villages in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts too share religious and cultural rights over Niyamgiri, the ministry observed.

Referring to Para 53 and 54 of the Supreme Court (SC) judgement, the MoTA letter said, “Such observations cannot be interpreted to assess the number of villages that need to be considered for recognition and vesting of claims under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Right) Act-2006.”

The Supreme Court in its order had directed the state government to complete Gram Sabhas within three months to get the mandate of the local people regarding the mining project.

The judgement had also called for considering all claims on community, individual, cultural and religious rights of the local inhabitants.

 

Press Release – #India – 5 activists accused by Tata Steel in fabricated cases acquitted #goodnews


Noamundi activist released
from Ieft are: Mosa Mundi, Rajaram Das, Xd, Indu Iaguri, John Barjo
 — atOut side Chaibasa District Court Singhbhum Jharkhand India
Xavier Dias
The Noamundi five have been acquittedon 29th June 2013 by the Chaibasa Court In 1991 eighteen of us were accused by TATA ST EEL in multiple fabricated criminal cases this particular case the Company got the Railways to fiIe an additional criminal case for damage to railway property too for which in NOvember Iast year 6 of us went to jaiI
The sixth Basu Deogam died in May from malnutrition and TB, I wish to remember the children and widows of the 13 of our comrades aII of who died early from curable diseases aII before the age of 45, yes we are now acquitted after 22 yrs of one of the countries biggest mining companies TATA STEEL failed strategy to harass Intimidate and defeat the resistance movement,
The struggle and resistance against Mining in the Saranda forest within which TATA STEEL and Noamundi comes continues and is now Ied by some of the children of our former comrades On 22 June a Pubic Hearing for a new mine could not be held as over 500 women men and children under the Leadership of Omon MahiIIIa Sanghatan drove them away This picture was taken out of the Court ,

.

 

#India – Kaziranga National Park in Assam flooded


Flood waters have entered Kaziranga National Park forcing animals to take shelter on highlands and Park authorities are on alert to protect the wildlife from deluge and poachers.

The flood waters have entered Burapahar and Bagori ranges of the world heritage site in upper Assam forcing the animals there to take shelter on high platforms built for them, the park sources said.

They are being given the special food sent by Wildlife Trust of India by the authorities with the help from NGOs.

Some of them were also moving towards the highlands in neighbouring Karbi Anglong district, the sources said.

Altogether 125 boats have been kept ready, they said, adding some of them have already been pressed into service for patrolling.

Besides, 45 domesticated elephants of the forest department and neighbouring areas will be used for the purpose.

Special measures to prevent poaching had also been taken with the personnel in the 150 anti-poaching camps on alert.

The elite Assam Forest Protection Force commandos deployed in the Park have been put on round-the-clock patrolling duty along with forest officers, forest guards and home guards.

Poachers attempt to take advantage of the floods to attack the displaced animals or those coming out of the Park looking for shelter on the highlands, the sources said.

Sign boards have also been put up on NH 37 along the Park for vehicles to control their speed in the area to prevent hitting wild animals crossing over to Karbi Anglong hills across the road, they said.

KNP, the 430 sq km habitat of the one-horn Great Indian Rhinoceros and variety of other fauna and flora, had experienced the worst floods last year when over 500 hog deer and variety of wild animals, including one-horned rhinos, were killed.

Meanwhile, Assam government has directed all the 27 districts to take flood management measures and put in place the emergency response system in view of the rise in the water level of Brahmaputra and its tributaries in Dhemaji, Golaghat, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts, the sources added

source- ddnews

 

#Monsanto digs its heels in Pakistan


Monsanto's Involvement With Agent Orange - 40 Years After the Vietnam Conflict

Coming from a politician or bureaucrat, it wouldn’t have been surprising.
But it was unexpected from the Vice Chancellor of Faisalabad University of
Agriculture when he claimed that GMOs would “bring about a new green
revolution based on biotechnology, precision agriculture and climate
change.” As if the first Green Revolution wasn’t bad enough! If it was for
citizens’ benefit, why wasn’t Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan addressing sustainable
farmers and concerned citizens, instead of briefing diplomats from 24
countries? That fit more into loaded trade and investment talks, not a
country’s delicate agricultural security.

Dr Khan offers no evidence based on local research whatsoever to prove that
GMOs are “a great and safe invention that would enhance crop productivity”.
He seems oblivious of the fact that even GM seed-producing corporations
don’t make that claim.

“Where is the independent data which shows that GM Corn would increase
average yield?” demands Ijaz Ahmed Rao, professional farmer, graduated from
Australia, “Data from USDA clearly shows that despite GM technologies
(Insect-resistant (Bt), Herbicide-tolerant, Stacked gene varieties), yields
in USA have not increased since 1987!”

Rao sounds an alarm the government must note – that Pakistan’s corn exports
to Europe and elsewhere would be seriously affected as they import non-GM
corn and corn products from Pakistan at premium rates and on bases of
certification. Far from boosting Pakistan’s output and earnings, Bt corn
would be the ideal weapon to destroy our exports to Europe which recently
banned Monsanto and other GMOs, with ongoing plans to wipe them out
completely.

Similarly, sans evidence, Dr Khan claims that Bt (GM) cotton increased
productivity while pesticide-application was reduced in Pakistan. Strange
indeed, when in the rest of the world – including USA, the heaviest GM user
– it rapidly lost resistance to pests and required increasing amounts of
pesticides, now multiplied several-fold.

He disregards India’s terrible 15-year experience with Monsanto’s Bt cotton
that, with Monsanto’s overpriced products and unfair practices, led to over
300,000 suicides since 1995, making India the world’s farmers’ suicide
centre. Should we be joining their ranks?

Indeed, Dr Khan ignores Monsanto’s long and ignominious history around the
world – originally a chemical corporation that co-supplied 19 million
gallons of herbicide to defoliate Vietnam’s forests and crops on 4.5
million acres over 11 years, killing or maiming 400,000, causing half a
million deformed children born, helpless and dependant for life, and two
million cancer cases. After diverse other ventures, Monsanto got into GM
seeds which are ‘successful’ only if Monsanto’s accompanying poisonous
chemicals are heavily sprayed.

While appearing to promote Monsanto’s planned launch of ‘Herbicide
Resistance Corn’, Dr Khan was blind to the dangerous ground he was treading
on. Chemically-grown food crops have already lost nutritive value and led
to malnutrition, in both South countries and USA.

Because it wasn’t reported here, the VC probably doesn’t know that on May
25, over two million participants in 436 cities across 52 countries,
protested against Monsanto, demanding it gets out from everywhere. This,
apart from the long-standing, ongoing “Millions against Monsanto” campaign
that informs and brings together concerned citizens and activists globally.

Or that the Carnival of Corn in Mexico City coincided with and joined the
global protest. Mexico was the cradle of corn boasting thousands of corn
varieties; it needed no more, let alone GM corn, from outside. But their
own president sold his country out to Monsanto and other GM corporations,
just as Bush and Obama did the same to their people. In country after
country, it was not the merit of the product but officials that succumbed
to tempting lures.

And last week Japan and South Korea cancelled huge contracts for US wheat
when it was revealed Monsanto’s unapproved GM seeds had contaminated vast
farmlands in USA.

Monsanto dug in its heels in Pakistan over a decade ago since Musharraf’s
time. The General probably didn’t understand agriculture which may have
made it easy to sway him. His regime unilaterally sanctioned corporate
farming, which is increasingly pursued with GM seeds. The timing was
significant.

When Musharraf’s rule ended, the PPP government dealt an unexpected shock
when Mr. Gilani’s very first speech as prime minister ended with the
incongruous announcement – having nothing to do with his political
statements – that they had decided to let Monsanto in. Clearly, political
changes did not undo special interests. Since then, ceaseless crises in
Pakistan have kept attention diverted from Monsanto activities in Pakistan.

Dr Khan should remember the ‘Precautionary Principle’ – unless he’s
excluded ecology from agriculture – and investigate the extent of unchecked
contamination in Pakistan. GM monoculture threatens to wipe out what’s left
of our biodiversity without which even GM can’t continue, will further
chemical-drench and kill our deteriorating farmlands, while he risks being
remembered among the short-sighted responsible for near-extinction of
species.

*
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/06/12/comment/columns/genetically-modified-threats/

#India -Bhopal gas victims take out rally and demand “no Justice, no Vote”


29th June 2013

By TCN News,

Bhopal: In an attempt to awake political parties from there stupor, today several hundred gas victims staged a rally from Ganesh Mandir, Chhola to Bhopal Bus Stand for their long standing demands of compensation, punishment of guilty individuals and corporations. In the upcoming elections of state and central government, Bhopal gas victims have resolved that they will only vote for those political parties who will ensure their compensation and end the continuing injustices against them. Residents from J.P. Nagar, Shakti Nagar, Kainchi Chhola, Risaldar Colony and Rajgarh participated in this rally and shouted slogans “No compensation to Gas Victims, then No Vote of Gas Victims”, “No Justice, No Vote”.

Several residents of J.P. Nagar, Kainchi Chhola and Rajgarh have painted slogans “Compensation First, Second Vote” on their houses. “This time we will tell representatives of political parties visiting our communities that first secure our compensation and then ask for vote”, says Anees Qureshi from J.P. Nagar who lives right across from the Union Carbide factory.

Several gas victims believe that this is the right time to get answers from political parties towards resolving the lingering issues of compensation, punishment of guilty, medical and social rehabilitation. “This time we will only vote for that political party which ensures compensation and justice for Bhopal gas victims and we want to see result before the elections not after,” says Premlata Chowdhary of Kainchi Chhola,

In March 2013, five organization working among the survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster had written a letter to dozen political parties seeking their response and support to their 8 demands on additional compensation for the gas disaster, correction of figures of injury and death caused by the disaster, cleanup of contaminated soil and ground water, compensation for injuries and birth defects caused by toxic contamination, setting up empowered commission for rehabilitation and stopping Dow Chemical from doing business in India till it presents Union Carbide in the ongoing criminal case on the disaster. Except Aam Aadmi party, none of the parties have bothered to respond to the demands of gas victims.

Gas victims participating in this rally appealed to gas victims living in 36 wards to make judicious and strategic use of their power to elect candidates so that that the lingering issues of the disaster are resolved in their favor. They also said that similar rallies should be taken out by all gas victims in their own communities, Paint slogans on houses and shops, and question all the political representatives that come in their community on what steps they have taken in ensuring there compensation from the state and central governments.

Photo Credit: Sanjay ‘KunKun’ Verma

Bhopal gas victims take out rally and demand "no Justice, no Vote"    By TCN News,    Bhopal: In an attempt to awake political parties from there stupor, today several hundred gas victims staged a rally from Ganesh Mandir, Chhola to Bhopal Bus Stand for their long standing demands of compensation, punishment of guilty individuals and corporations. In the upcoming elections of state and central government, Bhopal gas victims have resolved that they will only vote for those political parties who will ensure their compensation and end the continuing injustices against them. Residents from J.P. Nagar, Shakti Nagar, Kainchi Chhola, Risaldar Colony and Rajgarh participated in this rally and shouted slogans “No compensation to Gas Victims, then No Vote of Gas Victims”, “No Justice, No Vote”.    Several residents of J.P. Nagar, Kainchi Chhola and Rajgarh have painted slogans “Compensation First, Second Vote” on their houses. “This time we will tell representatives of political parties visiting our communities that first secure our compensation and then ask for vote”, says Anees Qureshi from J.P. Nagar who lives right across from the Union Carbide factory.    Several gas victims believe that this is the right time to get answers from political parties towards resolving the lingering issues of compensation, punishment of guilty, medical and social rehabilitation. “This time we will only vote for that political party which ensures compensation and justice for Bhopal gas victims and we want to see result before the elections not after,” says Premlata Chowdhary of Kainchi Chhola,    In March 2013, five organization working among the survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster had written a letter to dozen political parties seeking their response and support to their 8 demands on additional compensation for the gas disaster, correction of figures of injury and death caused by the disaster, cleanup of contaminated soil and ground water, compensation for injuries and birth defects caused by toxic contamination, setting up empowered commission for rehabilitation and stopping Dow Chemical from doing business in India till it presents Union Carbide in the ongoing criminal case on the disaster. Except Aam Aadmi party, none of the parties have bothered to respond to the demands of gas victims.    Gas victims participating in this rally appealed to gas victims living in 36 wards to make judicious and strategic use of their power to elect candidates so that that the lingering issues of the disaster are resolved in their favor. They also said that similar rallies should be taken out by all gas victims in their own communities, Paint slogans on houses and shops, and question all the political representatives that come in their community on what steps they have taken in ensuring there compensation from the state and central governments.Photo Credit: Sanjay 'KunKun' Verma

 

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