In Meerut, scientists, farmers promote organic farmingHome

On 2nd August Environment activist and author Vandana Shiva kick-started a nationwide campaign, Anna Swaraj Andolan, from Meerut. The campaign purpose is to make farmers aware of the benefits of organic farming and the hidden agenda of multi-national companies, which allegedly attempt to control the national agronomy by introducing genetically-altered seeds. Shiva said "In 1857 Meerut's farmers had stood against colonialism. Now, the time has come for the city to fight again against another kind of colonialism which not only wants to capture our agronomy but also wishes to play havoc with our health through genetically mutated seeds and pesticides."

The event was organized by Navdanya, an NGO that Shiva runs, promoting organic agriculture, and Shehzad Rai Research Institute, an organisation based in Baraut, Baghpat district, comprising historians and farmers. The Meerut chapter of the Indian Medical Association also participated. Research and Relief Society, Janhit Foundation and Neer Foundation (NGOs working in river and groundwater management), scientists from the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Agriculture University and members of Holistic Foundation, were also part of this initiative.

In her speech, Shiva focussed on the aggressive marketing strategies employed by US-based firms. "Our farmers have the ability to feed a nation of over a billion, but the agriculture polices of our country are aimed at providing huge profits to the corporate sector, eventually compelling farmers to commit suicide," she said, holding US-based agriculture biotechnology firm Monsanto responsible for "enslaving farmers". She said organic farming was the best way to beat this vicious cycle. "It is not only cost effective but healthy as well, quite removed from disease-inducing pesticides and insecticides," Shiva said.