Keep Brazil GM Free

... For the Sake of Your Future Generations


Authorisation to cultivate GM soya in Brazil for the next growing season was published at the end of last month, despite protests from Environment Minister Marina Silva, the government agency The National Environment Council, the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference, Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement, who tried to invade the agriculture ministry in protest, and NGOs. The Federal Judges’ Association also announced that it will challenge the decision in the Supreme Court, saying it is unconstitutional.

Devinder Sharma wrote an open letter to President Lula.  Below are extracts from this powerful statement

New Delhi, September 27, 2003

Mr. President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Your Excellency,

There was a lot of expectation from you when you took over as President of Brazil. Soon after you took over, and by that time the promises you made during your election campaigns were still afresh in your mind, you launched the 'Zero Hunger' Programme. Brazil appreciated that. The world applauded your vision.

But the complete turn around that you have taken to support the cultivation of genetically modified crops clearly demonstrates that no political leader has the moral courage to stand up to the power of money. You have not only succumbed to the pressure of the rich and the powerful, you have also undone the so-called 'great' task that you launched -- to eradicate hunger.

Genetically modified crops only add to hunger. These crops do not eradicate hunger….

Every head of State, for reasons that are obvious, spares no effort to mingle with the industry and the pro-industry scientists. British Prime Minister Tony Blair leads that trail. The same leaders have no time to meet the poor, in fact they hate to be with the poor. You are no exception. The Indian Prime Minister, whom you can see every other day with the industrialists, has not even once visited a single village in the country in the past five years. India, as you know is a country that is essentially a conglomeration of villages -- more than 80 per cent of the country's population lives in some 600,000 villages!

You too have forgotten your villages, and your people. The road map after you ascend the country's highest office does not face the villages. You followed the dictum. And so you hobnobbed with the industrialists and transgenic supporters to unleash a new battle for the average citizen -- surviving against the onslaught and exploitation of the multinational seed and biotechnology companies. In the bargain, you have sown the seeds of despair. You have brought in a recipe for exacerbating hunger.

Mr President, the world is being clearly divided into two parts – the rich and industrialised will produce staple foods, and countries like yours (and mine) will produce crops like strawberries, melons, cut flowers to meet the luxury requirement of the bold and beautiful. Multinational food and agribusiness companies are therefore making an all out effort to destroy the strong foundations of food self-sufficiency. We are fast heading towards a stage wherein farmers have become the most endangered species, and you are aware of the efforts that the WTO is making in this direction.

History still gives you an opportunity to rectify your mistake. You can surely make an effort to talk to your people, in an egalitarian and democratic way, to understand what is good for your country. You can surely have faith on the wisdom of your own people. This is exactly what Mahatma Gandhi stood for. This is what you too need to acknowledge.

You should know, Mr President, that there are no studies at all that prove the safety of those organisms genetically modified in any country both for the consumers' health and for the environment, and that an eventual liberation would pose a serious threat over the food

sovereignty of the Brazilians and against the economy of this country….widely recognized in the global markets as a genetically modified free country.

Brazil will surely remember you. But for reasons that are just the opposite for what you stood for at the time of elections.

Thanking you.

Sincerely yours,

Devinder Sharma

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