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No more GM in Kolhapur fields

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May 31, 2009 | From the print edition

University bans field trials



THE Maharashtra agriculture university announced it would no longer allow field trials of GM food crops in its field at Kolhapur. The move came in the wake of a protest in March by hundreds of farmers and citizens against an open-air field test of GM corn seeds, produced by seed major Monsanto. The protest led to the constitution of a committee, which resulted in the decision of the ban. The university's vice chancellor Rajaram Deshmukh said the remains of the GM corn crop would be destroyed.

Protestors in Maharashtra had questioned the safety of the tests and said the university didn't have the permission to conduct open-air tests. Farmers were angry at the university's decision to use public money to carry out the tests especially when Monsanto had filed cases against farmers for using their own seeds and not Monsanto's.Referring to GM free areas in Europe, farmer leader N D Patil asked, "Why has the university not studied the reasons behind such rejections beforetaking decisions regarding field tests?"

He added the decision to conduct field trials should have been routed through the State Biotech Coordination Committee. The state government is yet to constitute the committee. A mandatory district level committee also did not exist. GM field trials involve large sums of money and there is every reason to doubt the university's commitment, said Diliprao Deshmukh of the Maharashtra Organic Farming Federation.

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