Resolution on Environmental Protection and People-centric Development

super-rich multinational corporations follow very different food safety standards in countries like the US and UK and in third world countries like India. The pesticide contents in the very same products sold by the same company are different in different countries, in a classic indication of double standards and the lack of concern for the health and safety of people in the third world. It is therefore important to raise the demand that the Indian government scientifically regulate the use of chemicals and promote alternative agricultural techniques and the use of organic pesticides and fertilizers.

7. Rather than addressing the structural problems of agriculture, the ruling classes in India have been trying to promote genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Already Bt Cotton has been used on a substantial scale and the experience is highly alarming. In many cases the initial high yields stagnated pretty soon and pesticide use actually increased in the long run, contrary to the advertised benefits. Above all, the continuing spate of farmers’ suicide in areas of Bt Cotton cultivation suggests that at least in the current Indian conditions this is a curse on our agriculture and agriculturists.

8. Moreover, there are several serious ecological concerns related to the use of GMOs, such as the adverse impact they have on biodiversity and the culture of mixed cropping. The use of GMOs kills weeds as well as other plants in their vicinity. In our country weeds are not considered entirely ‘useless’ plants; in many areas they are used as leafy green vegetables for human consumption or as fodder for livestock. Similarly, medicinal plants which GMOs destroy are valuable for health and veterinary care. For all these reasons we must demand immediate ban/moratorium on the use of these deadly organisms in both cash and food crops.

9. The case of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that devastated Mexico’s environment and farmers is a warning about the impact of corporate agribusiness backed by imperialist forces. While opposing all such corporate-dictated technocratic ‘solutions’ imposed on us at the behest of international agri-business, we demand adoption of alternative strategies of agrarian development suitable for peculiar Indian conditions with state planning, funding and encouragement. It is entirely possible to advance along this way by properly utilising the indigenous seeds, manures and other inputs and by mobilising the knowledge of Indian peasants accumulated over millennia as well as patriotic agricultural scientists who are not agents of MNCs. We must bring the pressure of mass movement to bear on the government and force it to stop such conspiracies and change over to a pro-peasant pro-people strategy of agrarian development based on thoroughgoing agrarian reform.

Industrial pollution and environmental concerns

10. Industrial pollution – pollution of the air by routine release of gases and pollutants, the pollution of water sources by discharge of hazardous effluents, and the solid industrial wastes dumped by industries – is yet another serious environmental concern. This problem is growing more acute by the day, what with the so-called Pollution Control Boards seeped in corruption and deeply committed to protect the interests of big business. Of particular concern are (a) occupational health and safety concerns of workers in the polluting factories and (b) the industrial effluents released into rivers and lakes without proper treatment, which are making the water practically unusable by local communities. The problem of polluted water resources is further aggravated by the massive intake of fresh water by industry but the government remains as unconcerned as ever.

11. The shameful case of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy reminds us of the tricks global corporations play to evade liability, and how the Indian ruling class and even the Courts collude with such criminal corporations, protecting the latter from facing punishment or bearing the costs of the devastation and death they cause.