Call for a Nation-wide DAY OF ACTION on Aug. 9, 2011 (Quit India Day) & KISAN SWARAJ WEEK, Aug. 9TH to Aug. 15TH 2011

“No food shall be grown, that we do not own” – that is the reported objective of Monsanto, the multi-national seed and agro-chemical company notorious for suing and jailing farmers for the “crime” of reusing seeds they purchased from the company! If you are shocked by Monsanto’s aim of controlling the entire world’s food production system, what is more mind-boggling is how much progress it has already made towards its goal. Monsanto is today the world’s largest seed company, already controlling 23% of the proprietary seed market. The annual profit of this single company is Rs. 22,500 crores, more than the GDP of 48 countries! Known for its unscrupulous practices, it is now re-writing the laws and manipulating politicians and officials in the developing world to push its GM (genetic modification) technology, herbicides and proprietary hybrids. Recently, gross violations were exposed in its field trials of GM maize in Karnataka showing the impunity with which the company defies biosafety concerns.

If we as a nation want to protect our food sovereignty, if we want to retain control on what we grow and what we eat, this is the time for us to act decisively. This is a call to all like-minded organizations, alliances and individuals to come together for simultaneous actions on Aug. 9th, 2011 across the country with the outcry “Monsanto Quit India!”, and other actions observing Aug 9th-15th as Kisan Swaraj Week – sending a strong signal nationwide that citizens will not tolerate corporate domination of our food systems and agriculture.

The question of who controls our agriculture – our crores of farmers or a few big corporations – has deep ramifications for the whole society. We all have a big stake in whether unsafe genetically modified foods will be thrust on us, whether unsafe agri-chemicals would further damage our water, soil and health, whether 10 crore farmer families will lose their livelihoods, whether our rural and urban areas will be sustainable and whether we would have safe, diverse and nutritious food to eat. This Day of Action aims to strengthen the broader struggle against corporate domination of agriculture by focusing on its most potent symbol. More information including a leaflet can be accessed from the links under “Resources” below.

How you can participate in the August 9th nationwide Day of Action & Kisan Swaraj Week (Aug. 9th to 15th)

You can either participate in an event being organized in your area, or organize an event yourself. If you plan to organize an event on behalf of your organization or jointly with ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture), please contact Kavitha Kuruganti, Kiran Vissa or Rajesh Krishnan. The contact information including coordinators of various states is given below.

Here are some suggestions for what to organize:
· Demonstration at a Monsanto/Mahyco centre
· Padayatra to create awareness amongst farmers and consumers
· Protest against your government if it is partnering with Monsanto using public funds
· Seed Diversity Festival or a Traditional Foods festival
· Demonstration against field trials of GM crops in your state
· Film screening or awareness event about corporatization of our food system
· Bonfire of Monsanto seeds
· Seed Exchange among farmers & felicitation of Seed breeders
· TV or radio programs, press conference
· Release of local language material on Monsanto and its crimes
· Workshop/Round-table on how to stop corporate control of agriculture

You can also take part in a nation-wide post-card campaign in the lead-up to August 9th with a simple message to Monsanto: “Monsanto: We do not need or want your hazardous & unsustainable technologies in agriculture; we will not allow you to control our agriculture and seed resources; we refuse to have your poison served to us. MONSANTO, QUIT INDIA!” Post cards with this message can be sent to: Monsanto India Limited, Ahura Centre, 5th Floor, 96, Mahakali Caves Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai 400 093. Phone: 022-28246450/67029851; Fax: 022-28244707.

If you have better ideas, do share with us and we will propagate them!

– Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)

Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) is an all-India network of about 400 organizations of farmers, agricultural workers, consumers, social activists and academics, working to promote ecologically sustainable agriculture and secure livelihoods for farmers, and stop corporate domination of our agriculture and food system. ASHA organized the nation-wide Kisan Swaraj Yatra from Sabarmati to Raj Ghat in Oct-Dec 2010 for “Food, Farmers, Freedom”.
Website: http://www.kisanswaraj.in/

Resources and Links:
(1) Leaflet for Monsanto Quit India events
(2) Report on “Monsanto-izing Indian Agriculture”
(3) Monsanto: Corporate Manipulation and Deception
(4) Gross violations in GM field trials in Karnataka
(1) Poison on the Platter (Mahesh Bhatt): http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=Z8q5TZTFgIM
(2) Poison on the Platter (Hindi): http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=9Qk9leT5kzY
(3) World according to Monsanto: http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=YH4OwBYDQe8
(4) Future of Food: http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=EnD-DiDRIJA

Umendra Dutt (Alliance for Safe & GM-Free Food, Punjab), umendradutt@gmail.com, 098726-82161
Past Events

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Monday 28th of March

Join us for our first and very informal  camp fire gathering at Camp Ganga Riviera! www.campgangariviera.com.  Hurry, four people have already signed up!

We will visit a small village called Chandpur, take herbal walks, do yoga on the white sands by the Ganga, climb up a waterfall, relax and more.  Kayaking and rafting available too! Meals and chai served. Contact on the website.

Discussion: Organic farming techniques in India, fund raising, and poverty gardening tips and tricks.

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