INSTITUTE FOR RESPONSIBLE TECHNOLOGY
Why we need and deserve your support!
“The coming year promises to bring about a greater, more pervasive awareness” of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply. This was the prediction of Supermarket News, a trade publication that conventional food executives and retailers use as a primary source of news and trends in the industry. They specifically credit the Institute for Responsible Technology and our new Non-GMO Shopping Guide site as one of the key reasons for this coming change. This is just one of many indications that our tipping point is on its way, and that our strategy is the right one. The success of our Campaign for Healthier Eating in America accelerated dramatically in 2009. We have new partners in all the key sectors, and especially among retailers, health organizations, sustainable agriculture and environmental NGOs, and we are reaching into new groups—like restaurants, religious organizations, parents and many more. We hired two outstanding professionals with extensive experience in coalition building, business
development and sales, who are establishing a national network of organizations and opinion leaders to disseminate our materials to tens of millions of people. In addition, our new internet marketing team is enhancing our website and social media presence. We are more effective than ever at responding to the overwhelming enthusiasm, good will, and opportunities that we generate in the US and around the world.
Building Scientific Support for the Mission
The first medical professional association in the US to take an official position warning of the health risks of GM (genetically modified) food—the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)—called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, labeling, and asked doctors to prescribe
non-GMO diets and provide educational materials to all patients. This was the result, in part, of four years of IRT work, including three presentations by Jeffrey at their conferences. He received an award at their October conference, where he also spoke. Please see AAEM’s position paper.
Jeffrey was invited by the coalition of anti-GMO groups in Hawaii to give a speaking tour. He spoke to packed audiences on four islands, met with local activists to launch new strategic initiatives, and generated media coverage reaching an estimated 500,000 people. He testified before the Big Island County
Council. Less than two months after Jeffrey’s Hawaii tour, two county councils passed resolutions against GMOs. Non-GMO Education Centers were placed in natural food stores statewide, GMO films were shown at public venues and on TV, and a team of students/staff at the University of Hawaii has emerged to address the GMO issue in Hawaii.
Sugar Beets Registry
Last February, on Valentine’s Day, a Non-GM Beet Sugar Registry was launched with the support of 70+ natural foods companies who oppose the introduction of sugar from GM Sugar Beets (planted in 2008) into our food supply. These companies pledged to avoid using GM sugar in their products and the list continues to grow with now more than 100 companies onboard. IRT and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) headed a coalition of 12 watchdog groups who sponsored the Registry. These efforts have expanded into Canada as well.
A Major Victory in Kansas
In response to consumer rejection of milk containing bovine growth hormone (rbST/rbGH), Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Kroger, Publix, Yoplait, Dannon, and 58 of the top 100 dairies have committed to stop using this the drug for some or all of their product lines. As a counter-move, rbGH proponents petitioned state governments, asking them to ban rbGH-free labeling of dairy products. IRT is part of a coalition of organizations that have success-fully fought off these attempts in several states (although some states now require a disclaimer on the package claiming no difference in milk from treated cows). Following our intensive
education campaign, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius last April vetoed legislation that would hamper a company’s labeling of rbGH-free products.
The genetically modified organisms (GMO) issue was center stage for the Natural Foods industry last March, starting with a panel discussion with Michael Funk of UNFI, John Fagan of Genetic ID, and Michael Hansen of Consumers Union. A second meeting featured a presentation by Jeffrey Smith, aimed at helping manufacturers and retailers work together to create the tipping point in consumer demand to eliminate GMOs in the marketplace. Non-GMO Shopping Guides were
included in 15,000 shopping bags handed out by New Hope Natural Media, the show organizer.
Non-GMO Shopping Guide
First produced in October 2008—in conjunction with the Center for Food Safety—the Non-GMO Shopping Guide is now in its third edition, with over 40 additional companies and 70 new brands listed. Manufacturers of non-GMO brands are listed in the Shopping Guide as a free public service. We are partnering with food industry leaders, such as Organic Valley Family of Farms, to display
Shopping Guides and hand them out at every veue they visit nationwide. The Guide is also distributed for free to retailers by UNFI.
Stand-Alone Shopping Guide Web Site
We created a stand-alone Website for the Shopping Guide, where consumers can easily view the categories that interest them. They can also download or order the Guide. The site features sponsors’ logos as live links to their homepage and products. The new site was credited in Supermarket News as pivotal in the coming rise of consumer awareness about GMOs.
New Media and Social Networking Partnerships
IRT has entered into a Web 2.0 relationship with regular blogs on Huffington Post, and the No GMO Challenge, a blogsite encouraging people to stay free from GMOs for 30 days. Our presence on the Internet now also includes YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. These new media partnerships help bring the non-GMO “healthier eating” message to life across America. The popular consumer health website—Mercola.com—is just one of hundreds of sites that publishes our content and supports us with regular non-GMO features.
Presentations Focused Towards Activism
Jeffrey Smith’s presentations continue to inspire local GMO activism. In 2009 he spoke at more than a dozen festivals, conferences and events and received a standing ovation from over 250 doctors at the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) annual conference in San Diego.
Developing Activists’ Network
In 2009, IRT has nurtured dozens of valuable relationships with volunteer activists in 25 states, who are strategizing to achieve wide impact in their community. They receive free materials, guidance and support from our Director of Community Networks, Margherita Pagni.
Partnerships with NGOs and Outreach to Their Constituencies
We identified 150+ organizations and groups who would likely disseminate educational tools to their constituents, urging them to avoid GMOs, support sustainable agriculture and participate in our Campaign. We have established at least initial contact with half of them and have begun to work closely with several organizations that have large memberships, such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, Citizens for Health, the Holistic Moms Network, the Oregon Country
Fair, and dozens more.
GM-Free School Project
We developed contacts in several locations interested in implementing GM-free schools, by organizing parents, students, and school officials to switch from GMO diets to healthy, fresh, non-GMO school meals.
We have placed GMO educational materials into natural food stores around the nation, and a growing number of stores are utilizing our Retailer Campaign Kit to reach out to their communities. Kari Miller, our new Director of Strategic Relationships, works with retailers, large institutions and corporations to develop active partnerships.
Partnerships with Magazines and Websites
Not only have we authored or inspired several magazine articles around the world, several publishers have committed to raising public awareness about GMOs.
Urban Garden Magazine just released an extensive cover story by Jeffrey Smith on the harmful effects of GMOs, and the cover up. They will publish regular features and post our materials on their blog.
Total Health Magazine published a two-page spread of the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, and will also include regular GMO-related features.
2009 ACHIEVEMENTS ABROAD
Bollywood GMO Documentary Drives India Towards Tipping Point
Unprecedented anti-GMO fervor has swept India, due to a film by Bollywood superstar producer Mahesh Bhatt. The 30-minute documentary, Poison on the Platter, was largely based on Jeffrey Smith’s book Genetic Roulette. While in India last year, Jeffrey gave presentations to India’s influential National Planning Commission, top government officials in several states, members of the Indian Medical Association, and the World Congress of Ayurveda. He made public
appearances in nineteen cities around the country, launched the Indian edition of Genetic Roulette, and was featured in more than one hundred articles and TV reports.
In May, Jeffrey introduced the Portuguese edition of Genetic Roulette and gave a talk before the Governor of the State of Parana and three hundred staff that was broadcast on national television and radio. In Brasilia, Jeffrey met with several leading politicians, was introduced on the floor of the Senate, and was interviewed on national Senate TV. He was also interviewed on the most influential national TV talk show.
We will continue to build on the momentum created in 2009 towards the tipping point of consumer rejection of GM foods. We plan to launch several GM-free school projects, bring on board a large contingent of doctors, health care practitioners and nutritionists willing to speak out against GMOs, continue to build and empower our growing body of volunteers, train speakers and achieve additional media exposure on GMO-related issues.
Institute for Responsible Technology
P.O. Box 469
Fairfield, IA 52556
Asean pact not to hit Kerala’s products: Rubber traders’ body
Kochi, Aug. 25 The Cochin Rubber Merchants Association said that most of Kerala’s products are well protected under the recently concluded India-Asean agreement, which is expected to boost the trade between India and the member countries to $50 billion within a year.
Mr N. Radhakrishnan, President of the Association, said in a statement that an impartial assessment of the entire structure will show that Kerala need not be unduly worried about the Asean Agreement.
Kerala must try to maximise the market share among the Asean countries by taking advantage of its natural resources, technology and skilled manpower. The promotional measures adopted by countries such as Vietnam in the agri field are worth emulating.
There is concern in Kerala about the implications of the agreement on the State’s agricultural and marine products. However, a closer look at the aspects of the agreement relevant to Kerala’s economy shows that the apprehensions are unfounded.
He pointed out that coconut, rubber, cardamom, turmeric, vegetables, vanilla, ginger, cashew kernels and black tea are placed under Exclusion List and the existing duty on these items will not be reduced until India agrees with the member countries. He said that tariffs on items under the Exclusion List shall be reviewed each year by the member countries with a view to improving market access. Coconut is placed under Exclusion List with a 70 per cent duty, which will not change till 2019.
Rubber is placed under the Exclusion List with a 70 per cent duty on latex and 20 per cent on others with no change till 2019. Duty on rubber can be reduced only if India opts for it, which is quite unlikely.
Cardamom is placed under the Exclusion List with a 70 per cent duty with no change till 2019. Ginger and turmeric are also placed under the Exclusion List with 30 per cent duty each with no change till 2019.
Tea is placed under Special Products with existing duty of 100 per cent which will be regressively reduced to 45 per cent by 2019. Kerala’s share of production is only 6 per cent.
Coir Yarn and Coir Products are placed under the Normal Track with a duty of 10 per cent which will be reduced to zero within five years. Our major exports of these products are to countries outside Asean, he said. Already there is an acute shortage for coir fibre due to the heavy fall in production of coconuts in Kerala. Import of coir fibre from Asean nations for reprocessing, value addition and exports will generate more employment in the State and also give a fillip to the coir industry.
Courtesy : thehindubusinessline
India is self sufficient in production of Natural Rubber compared with consumption. Now near about 98% of imports are on ZERO percent import duty which is more than 80,000 Tonnes per year. When the rubber market is with surplus stock, the market prices will come down far below International prices. The joint venture of bulk dealers & manufacturers are harmful to farmers. Many of the bulk dealers are co-operative societies who don’t want share the profits to Govt. treasury. The fluctuations of market price only will hit on farmers income. Now ASEAN agreement is not reflecting on rubber prices, because prices are higher than International from few months continuously. In future ASEAN will be harmful on reduced price at Kerala market under the pretext of ASEAN on 20% duty of small quantity can keep away the Indian manufacturers from Indian market with the maximum benefits of ZERO percent import duty.
Kerala is increasingly depends on other States for edible products. The vast cultivation of Natural Rubber will effect on more areas of fields like rice, vegetable, coconut, bananas etc.
Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan says the views of state governments affected by the proposed Afree trade agreement with the Asean group of countries were not taken before the Centre decided to sign it. And state agriculture activists have asked MPs from Kerala to resign if the pact is signed, as a mark of their failure to represent the state’s interests.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the CM says ”it is a matter of serious concern that the views of the affected state governments were not taken into account while formulating a trade pact of this magnitude.’’
The opening line of the letter to the PM yesterday says: “ The state government has learnt from the media that the central government has decided to sign the much debated and widely criticised Asean trade agreement (which) has a number of provisions having far-reaching adverse impact on Kerala’s agricultural economy.” The decision to sign, he adds, comes even as the already liberalised import regime has distorted the market prospects of domestic coconut oil, pepper, etc.
When the decision came up before the Union cabinet last week, it was opposed within the government by ministers Jairam Ramesh, Vayalar Ravi and A K Antony, all from the state. While a delegation of Congressmen from Kerala led by legislative leader Oommen Chandy had also visited the Prime Minister to convey their opposition.
The matter has been sent to a Group of Ministers to assess the impact on Kerala’s growers. The letter further says the agreement will pave way for liberalised import of rubber, tea, pepper and edible oils. With liberalised imports, the prices of these are bound to crash, says the CM.
He also expresses concern about the import of sea food, saying it will throw more than a million people out of jobs in the fishery sector.
Agriculture groups say the Kerala government was justified in feeling left out of the consultation process on the FTA. Says R Sridhar, who helped draft the Paddy Act and is in a non-government working group on trade: “We would urge our MPs to resign from Parliament, if they are unable to protect the interests of Kerala’s farmers. He says that if farmers and local governments are not in control in determining the prices in the market, then farmers are going to be ruined and cash crop production would come to an end, as it would be a loss-making proposition.”
He says Kerala’s food security has already been compromised by a massive shift to cash crops, with 70 per cent of paddy lands now not recoverable. And denies that a negative list could provide protection to major cash crops in the state. The list will take the import duty to zero over a period of 10 years but after that there is nothing to protect the farmer.
Can we say rubber, tea, coffee productivity would be competitive in 10 years, he asks. “It is not possible because the conditions in which the cultivation is done is different in the Asean countries and not comparable. With the green revolution, paddy productivity could increase only by a tonne a hectare and so, with little incentives, not much can be expected from cash crops, he says.
Either don’t go for Asean or assess the impact and find means to protect the farmer. If a farmer is going to lose by the agreement, then let assessment be done as to how much should be paid to the farmer to buffer him from the loss, and how many farmers would need protection, says Sridhar.
Thomas Verghese, chairman of the Kerala State Prices Board, says it is a state subject and the Centre cannot enter into such deals, compromising the interests of the state’s farmers, without even consulting it. He says Kerala has borne the consequences of past treaties like the South Asian Free Trade Area Agreement in 2006. “If the price of a coconut was Rs 2 in 1960, it continues to be Rs 2 today. Can you show me any product whose price has remained static like this?”
He says that it is a livelihood crop for 3.5 million households and 6 billion coconuts are produced in Kerala. “Thanks to cheaply available palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia supplied even through the subsidised public distribution system, coconut has completely lost out,’’ he says.
Similarly in the fisheries sector, most of the items covered under the agreement are those that can come from Thailand and are also produced in Kerala, thus exposing 20 lakh fishermen to risk.
He says there is no level playing ground in the matter of trade and hence equal rates cannot apply to commodities from ASEAN countries.
If pepper prodictivity is 380 kg per hectare in India, it is 1,000 kg per hectare in Vietnam and 3,000 kg per hectare in Indoniesia.
Courtesy: Business Standard
From the above table of price indices it is clear to note that when we take 1983 as the base year, for 1000 nuts WOH the price index for the current year is 338 indicating that the price increase noted on coconut for the current year is 3.38 times the price of their product for 1983. Similarly the price increase noticed on a quintal of milling copra for the current year is 307 indicating that the price increase for copra for the current year is 3.07 times the price of copra for 1983. The price increase noticed on one quintal of coconut oil for current year is 2.98 times the price of coconut oil for 1983. The price increase on one quintal of Natural Rubber RSS 4 at for the current year is 6.47 times the price of RSS 4 at Kottayam market for 1983.
Now we look with the wage/salary index category of Govt. servants and other workers. From office records one can easily observe that an Assistant in any university of Kerala would draw an initial basic pay of Rs. 675 carrying a DA of Rs. 112 with a total of Rs. 797 (excluding other allowances such as HRA, CCA which vary from place to place) during 1983 where as initial starting basic pay for the same post is Rs. 7990 carrying a DA of Rs. 3036 with a total of Rs. 11,026 during 2008. Thus the salary index of the salary of an Assistant who will enter in service during 2008 is 1383. Thus the salary increase noticed on the initial appointment as Assistant in an University during 2008 is 13.83 times that of 1983. From the diary records one could observe that the wage given to an agricultural labourer during 1983 would be Rs. 20 where as the wage given today is Rs. 300 which is around 15 times the wage of 1983.
It means the coconut & Rubber have to get a price now is 15 times higher than 1983.
From the details availed by Dr. Yageen thomas
I like to bring the following statistics to the kind notice of the commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
Price Indices of Coconut and some of its products with base year 1983
|YEAR||Coconut (WOH)||Price Index||Copra (Mill)||Price Index||Coconut oil||Price Index|
From the above table of price indices it is clear to note that when we take 1983 as the base year, for 1000 nuts WOH the price index for the current year is 338 indicating that the price increase noted on coconut for the current year is 3.38 times the price of their product for 1983. Similarly the price increase noticed on a quintal of milling copra for the current year is 307 indicating that the price increase for copra for the current year is 3.07 times the price of copra for 1983. The price increase noticed on one quintal of coconut oil for current year is 2.98 times the price of coconut oil for 1983.
Now we look with the wage/salary index category of Govt. servants and other workers. From office records one can easily observe that an Assistant in any university of Kerala would draw an initial basic pay of Rs. 675 carrying a DA of Rs. 112 with a total of Rs. 797 (excluding other allowances such as HRA, CCA which vary from place to place) during 1983 where as initial starting basic pay for the same post is Rs. 7990 carrying a DA of Rs. 3036 with a total of Rs. 11,026 during 2008. Thus the salary index of the salary of an Assistant who will enter in service during 2008 is 1383. Thus the salary increase noticed on the initial appointment as Assistant in an University during 2008 is 13.83 times that of 1983. From the diary records one could observe that the wage given to an agricultural labourer during 1983 would be Rs. 20 where as the wage given today is Rs. 250 which is around 12.5 tines the wage of 1983.
Look on the plight of the poor coconut farmers whose coconut products have shown a price growth of about 3 times over a period of 25 years whereas those of Govt. servants and other labourers attained a growth of 12.5 to 13.8 times. At this rate the economic condition of farmers who depend on coconut farms will only push them to suicidal point. The Govt. is appeasing very much its employees by giving revised salaries, DA’s and reducing the tax burden year after year.The agricultural and other labourers also by their trade union power get a reasonable growth in their wages., while the poor coconut farmers toil in the soil, shed their sweat and blood without getting reasonable price for their products.
What is the role of Govt. in the Country? It is sharing the major portion of its resorces among its functionaries? In the Gross State Domestic product of Kerala (at constant prices) data provided in ‘Statistics of planning 2005’ published by the department of Economics and Statistics, Govt. of Kerala the contribution from agricultural sector over the years 1998-99 to 2003-04 are as given below.
|GSDP Rs. in lakhs (Agriculture)||721098||733584||576701||562236||569124||547472|
The coconut farmers are really the most troubled lot in the farming sector. Their crop being a crop meant for 50 or more number of years, they cannot switch over easily to other crops. they cannot nurture their farms because of insufficient return. So the farm remain more and more unproductive contributing much of lower GDP. As rightly pointed out by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the MSP should be atleast 50% more than the weighted average cost of production so that the net take home income of farmers will be comparable to some extent of those in civil servants and other labourers. Hence I strongly feel that MSP for milling copra should be rised to a more reasonable level than Rs. 4900/qtl so as to make a kick start of retarded farm sector of Kerala.
P. Yageen Thomas
Professor & head
Dept. of Statistics
University of Kerala