Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Two evils i.e. today's Technology and Trade (Life killer series:5)

Two evils i.e. today's Technology and (Trade Life killer series:5)

I have made the following reference to Honorable Minister for Enovironment and forest, GOI Mr.Jairam Ramesh, in my letter concerning Bt brinjal. Today, a message was released suspecting the Indian Organic cotton suspected (see below) for the contamination of with GM cotton because of its wide cultivation and other things. This cautioning words have become true in very short term. In the recent decades, the WTO regulations have become hindrance for both export and import. But, both the technology and the trade regulations (in different dimensions) have become a very complex issue and very importantly in agriculture. This ends with worthless and highly unproductive means of earning. In the end it is evident to my understanding with all these issues, go for local or Swadeshi technology, trade and life, to avoid such kind of complex things to lead a peaceful life. Today's kind of trade and technology were evil, which competes each other in destroying our environment altogether.

GMO banned in Indian organic regulations NPOP

India has introduced the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), the Indian standard for organic production. It was formed under and administrated by Agricultural and processed food export development authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce, GOI in the year 2002.

Indian organic regulations say in the article 5.1.7.

“Organic products shall not be labelled as GE (genetic engineering) or GM (genetic modification) free in order to avoid potentially misleading claims about the end product”.

….and in the list of approved ingredients for processing agricultural products it says, “Preparations of micro-organisms accepted for use in food processing. Genetically modified organisms are excluded” (Appendix 4 NPOP, 2002)

APEDA has involved in helping the organic products to be exported world wide and have gone for the world wide negotiations to get the Indian organic farming standards to that EEC 2092/91 of European Organic standard, US NOP, JAS standard of Japan and Swiss ordinance for Organic production. All the International standards have banned GM technology in organic production and processing except US. Incase of approval of Bt crops widely for many crops and regions, India may face serious threat to get not certified for it organic farms for the exports. The Agricultural exports will get hampered in future. This kind of double strand from GOI ministries shows its lack knowledge for its decision process over B.t. brinjal and also its non-cooperation between different ministries i.e. Ministry of commerce, Food processing and Environment respectively.

- Yuvasenthilkumar Ramalingam, Graduate of Intl.Organic agriculture,

Member of Organic Farmers Association India, Erode, Tamil nadu, India.

Organic Cotton scandel: Gene technology is the problem

Author: Karin Heinze

Organic cotton has hit the headlines. The accusations are far-reaching but clearly can’t be proved. Even though the report on GM contaminated cotton, that has been all over the media in recent days, contains a number of errors, it makes it clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. It was not generally known that organic cotton is under threat from the cultivation of genetically modified cotton. The organic textile industry should fear for its good reputation and must make its whole value added chain far more transparent if it wants to minimize the harm it could suffer and win back the trust of customers.

The article, that was published while the Fashion Week and various eco-fashion events were being held in Berlin, caught the industry off guard. The Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) reported on 22 January 2010 that large amounts of genetically modified cotton from India had been put on the German market as organic cotton. The companies affected were given as C&A, H&M and Tchibo, although the last two quickly made it clear that their organic cotton came from Turkey. The report shows the organic certifiers Ecocert and the Dutch Control Union in a bad light. According to the article, they are suspected of having certified GM cotton as organic. The whole affair is said to have been discovered as early as April 2009 by the state-owned Indian export organization Apeda, whose director Sanjay Dave is quoted as saying that they were dealing with fraud on a ‘gigantic scale’. The article states that dozens of villages, in collaboration with western certifying companies, have put large amounts of genetically modified cotton on the market.

“The article has
well and truly discredited the eco-textile industry,” says Heike Scheuer, spokesperson of the Internationale Verband Naturtextil
IVN. She points out that there is so far no proof that the claims are correct, nobody has been able to substantiate the accusations, the director of Apeda has denied it and there is no evidence on which to base the statement that claims 30 % of organic cotton is genetically modified. “I think it’s highly unlikely, because organic cotton growers in India would be crazy to get involved in fraud,” says Heike Scheuer. “It’s their livelihood.” The certifiers reject the criticisms: Ecocert writes in a statement obtained by Organic-Market.Info: “Ecocert did not deliver any organic certification for GMO cotton nor for conventional cotton.” The Dutch company Control Union explains its position on the accusations in a detailed statement: “For us it is not clear what data led to the conclusion of 30 % contamination and how the connection with India arose.” Mechtild Naschke, head of the textile department at the Swiss organic certifier IMO also defends her colleagues in the industry: “The organic textile associations have devised far-reaching guidelines, and you can rely on the system of controls.”

Lothar Kruse, who is quoted in the article, from the Bremerhaven Laboratory
Impetus-Bioscience, feels he has been misrepresented. He says the shortened version of what he said is misleading. He admits he told the journalist from the FTD that he estimated the proportion of GM contaminated samples of cotton to be 30 % but that this figure was so high because the tests were primarily on suspicious cases. He also points out that the contamination in 70 % – 80 % of these samples was less than 2 %. He says this indicates contamination was spread during transport and processing; it was not an indication of fraud. Impetus-Bioscience developed a method of analysis years ago that made it possible to carry out reliable tests to establish whether raw cotton and yarn were contaminated by GMO. In his view, this analysis was not being used often enough. He concedes that reliable testing for GM contamination depends on the degree of processing of the fibres. “It only functions in exceptional cases with processed cotton and manufactured items.”

contamination is a key concept. It is a fact that the sharp increase in cropping genetically modified cotton is a big problem. Already more than 50 % of cotton grown worldwide is from GM seed, and experts estimate that in India the figure is 60 % - 75 %. According to Mechthild Naschke, the seed companies (
Monsanto and Syngenta) even go as far as giving samples of GM seed free of charge to farmers, and sometimes to organic farmers too. So there’s a possibility of GM and non-GM seed unintentionally being sown together. However, she does not think this is likely. Also, since cotton is self-pollinating, contamination of organic cotton by cross pollination can be ignored. Textile expert Manfred Fürst from Naturland considers co-existence is certainly possible, but he thinks the GM problem in cropping, storage and processing has to be tackled by increasing the number of inspection visits.

The most likely cause of contamination by GMO is in fact in the form of dust particles or fibres left behind in harvesting equipment, storage facilities, during transport and in processing. It can no longer be avoided 100 % unless the whole chain from seed to clothes manufacture is a closed system, operated by one organization, certified organic and traceable like, for example, the Swiss organic cotton pioneer
Remei that runs its own projects in India and Africa. Sekem in Egypt is another example. Long-term collaboration with the same suppliers and the right business structures can also provide protection. Big chains like C&A (picture) or H&M that need large quantities of cotton in a short space of time for their eco collections are, as newcomers, forced to rely on documentation alone, since they don’t know their suppliers.

This is why Heike Scheuer from
IVN is calling for stricter and clearer guidelines. She says that in both cropping and monitoring a lot is a matter of interpretation of the rules and that farmers’ organizations, certifiers and the associations of the eco textile industry (IVN, Organic Exchange) should therefore cooperate more closely. Rolf Heimann, who is head of Innovation & Ecology at hessnatur, expresses a similar view in the hessnatur blog: “Controls all along the textile chain are important, but so are trust, long-term relations with suppliers, transparency, traceability, monitoring the flow of goods, etc. If it says bio on the packaging, it’s got to be bio in the packaging. We need dialogue, but not this kind of poorly researched media hype.”

Efforts are already being made to simplify and acceleratetraceability in the complex processing chain of cotton. Control Union has responded to the huge increase in GM cotton cropping in India by increasing farm inspections from two to three a year and retaining samples of seed. However, the increase in cost caused many farmers to look for less expensive certifiers. To prevent more problems arising from GM contamination, Control Union wants to accelerate the introduction of a Buyer Information Portal (BIS) on the web, so that anyone buying cotton can track it back to the producer. Naturland has also discussed ways of avoiding GM contamination. Manfred Fürst assumes that the problems can be clarified and solved rapidly and long-term. It’s in the interest of the Indian authorities not to put the reputation of the country as an organic cotton producer at risk. It’s just as much in the interest of the textile chains in Europe to get themselves out of the headlines.

The article in the FTD may contain errors, but it does point up a problem that many players in the eco textile industry, in contrast to consumers, are well aware of, namely that
gene technology is a threat to the aspiring organic cotton industry. GM seed and the aggressive policy of the multinational seed companies with a matching lobby to convince governments of the putative benefits of the technology are not an issue in India alone. Producer countries in Africa will be the next to be confronted by this problem. It is high time that players in the eco textile industry pool their resources and search constructively for answers.

Info: India currently supplies about half of all organic raw cotton worldwide. Within the last four years, in order to meet rising demand, the worldwide production of organic cotton has risen by a factor of 7, from 20,000 to over 140,000 t. The turnover of eco textiles has risen from 500 million dollars to more than 5 billion dollars since 2005.

Eco textiles are certified according to various quality standards that prescribe more or less organic raw materials, with gene technology, as in all organic products, being taboo. All eco textiles subject to one of the standards and the corresponding controls and certification carry a logo that should give the consumer confidence in the product. The
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the most important quality logo internationally. It is issued by the International Working Group on GOTS. GOTS was created by the Internationale Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft (IVN), Germany, together with the Soil Association (SA, England), the Organic Trade Association (OTA, USA) and the Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA, Japan).

The objective of the guidelines is to guarantee as low a level as possible of contaminants in the end product and to set minimum social standards. At least 70 % of fibres must come from organic cropping (or from farms converting to organic) and it is permissible for 30 % to come from conventional cropping (label grade 2). In the case of GOTS label grade 1, at least 95 % of fibres must come from organic cropping or farms converting to organic. Further processing (dyeing, finishing aids) is precisely regulated. The Internationale Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft IVN, that comprises 70 companies, issues the even more stringent standard IVN BEST (100 % organic raw materials). IVN is a member of IWG, the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS).




  1. உங்களுடைய கடிதம் சரியான கருத்தை வலியுறுத்துகிறது. இதில் எழுப்பப்பட்டுள்ள கேல்விகளை எங்களுடைய வட்டாரத்தில் விவாதிப்போம். செந்தில் என்னோட பி.டி. கத்தரிக்காய் பதிவு பாத்திங்களா.



  2. Hi Senthil,

    This post is really awesome and at a point of stage, I felt, We the people, having the access to the information and current affairs, we are unable to do anything about it. Say for example, the issue of BT Brinjal, I personally feel myself as worthless citizen who was unable to do anything to solve the situation or to make the people to know about whats going on.

    This thought is quitely running on my mind and will find a way to motivate and activate the people of India towards their reach to the problems.

    Keep your good work going.

    Sathish Kumar AD