Selling Out To Monsanto In India

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Karan Vaid/Greenpeace

“It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity… The achievement we celebrate today is but a step… to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?… A new star rises… a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materialises. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed!” Jawaharlal Nehru from his “tryst with destiny” speech at Parliament House in New Delhi in 1947.

Back in August, India marked its anniversary of attaining independence from Britain in 1947. It may seem strange to some that a nation would publicly celebrate its independence as it did while at the same time it continues to less publicly cede it to outsiders. The gleaming façade of flags and fly-pasts belied the fact that national security and independence do not depend on military might and patriotic speeches. Eye-catching celebrations took place in Delhi and much of the corporate media mouthed platitudes about the strength of the nation and its independence. The reality is, however, an ongoing, concerted attempt to undermine and destroy the very foundation and security of the country.

The bedrock of any society is its agriculture. Without food there can be no life. Without food security, there can be no genuine independence. A recent report by the organisation GRAIN revealed that small farms produce most of the world’s food and are more productively efficient than large farms [1]. Facilitated by an appropriate policy framework, small farmers could easily feed the global population. But small farmers are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland and the world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands big agribusiness and the rich and powerful. If nothing is done to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.

By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Corporations take over scarce fertile land and prioritise non-food commodities or export crops for profit and markets far away that cater for the needs of the affluent. This process impoverishes local communities and brings about food insecurity. GRAIN concludes that the concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day. 

The Oakland Institute in the US recently stated that the first years of the 21st century will be remembered for a global land rush of nearly unprecedented scale [2]. An estimated 500 million acres, an area eight times the size of Britain, was reported bought or leased across the developing world between 2000 and 2011, often at the expense of local food security and land rights. This trend could eventually result in the permanent shift of farm ownership from family businesses to institutional investors and other consolidated corporate operations.

Monsanto in India

In India, small farms account for 92 percent of farms and occupy around 40 percent of all agricultural land. They form the bedrock of food production. However, there is a concerted effort to remove farmers from the land. Hundreds of thousands of farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic liberalisation [3].

Monsanto already controls the cotton industry in India and is increasingly shaping agri-policy and the knowledge paradigm by funding agricultural research in public universities and institutes. Its practices and colonisation of institutions have led to it being called the ‘contemporary East India Company’ [4], and regulatory bodies are now severely compromised and riddled with conflicts of interest where decision-making over GMOs are concerned [5].

In the meantime, Monsanto and the GM biotech sector forward the myth that GM food is necessary to feed the world’s burgeoning population. They are not. Aside from the review by GRAIN, the World Bank-funded International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge and Science for Development Report stated that smallholder, traditional farming (not GMOs) can deliver food security in low-income countries through sustainable agri-ecological systems [5].

The Standing Committee on Agriculture in Parliament unequivocally concluded that GM seeds and foods are dangerous to human, animal and environmental health and directed the former Government of Manmohan Singh to ban GMOs [6]. Despite such evidence and the recommendations to put a hold on open field GM trials by the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee, the push is on to give such trials the green light.

Monsanto cannot be trusted

The GM biotech sector cannot be trusted. As its largest player, Monsanto is responsible for knowingly damaging people’s health and polluting the environment and is guilty of a catalogue of decades-long deceptive, duplicitous and criminal practices [7]. It has shown time and again its contempt for human life and the environment and that profit overrides any notion of service to the public, yet it continues to propagate the lie that it has humanity’s best interests at heart because its so-called GMO ‘frontier technology’ can feed the hungry millions.

The sector attempts to control the ‘science’ around its products by carrying out inadequate, secretive studies of its own, placing restrictions on any independent research into its products and censoring findings that indicate the deleterious impacts of its products [8]. It has also faked data [9] and engages in attacking scientists who reach conclusions not to its liking [10,11]. It cannot demonstrate that yields are better, nutritional values are improved, health is not damaged or that harm to the environment does not occur with the adoption of GMOs. Independent studies and evidence, not inadequate industry funded or back ones, have indicated yields are often worse and herbicide use has increased [12,13,14], health is negatively impacted [15,16], soil is damaged [17] and biodiversity is undermined [18], among other things.

GRAIN found that around 56 percent of Russia’s agricultural output comes from family farms which occupy less than 9 percent of arable land. Russia does not need or want GM crops, which the Russian Prime Minister has described as amounting to little more than a form of biological warfare weapon [19]. And here lies the real heart of the matter.

In his book Seeds of Destruction (p41), William F Engdahl states in the seventies a journalist was told by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that if you control oil you control nations, but if you control food you control people. GMOs are not needed to feed the world. Science cannot justify their use. They are a weapon.

In India, there is a drive to remove small/family farms, which are capable of ensuring the nation’s food security, and eventually replace them with larger biotech-controlled monoculture farms with GM crops for Western styled processed-food supermarkets and export [20]. It is no surprise that the likes of Syngenta, Monsanto and Walmart had a direct hand in drawing up the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, which was in turn linked to the US sanctioning the opening up of India’s nuclear power sector.

Despite India not being a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, US corporations are now actively involved in helping India develop its civil nuclear capabilities. Payback appears to come in the form of handing over the control of India’s agricultural land and food system to the US via that country’s biotech companies.

GMOs and the bigger picture

Russia is correct to conflate bio-warfare and GMOs. The oil-rich Rockefeller family set out to control global agriculture via the petrochemical-dependent ‘green revolution’. The destruction of traditional farmer-controlled agriculture was actively supported by the US government and its Trojan horse agritech corporations under the agenda set out by Kissinger. GMOs now represent the ultimate stranglehold over food via ‘terminator’ seed technology, seed patenting and intellectual property rights.

Moreover, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Gates Foundation – which have teamed up with Monsanto in Africa – have long-standing concerns about overpopulation in ‘third world’ countries and how they could develop and threaten resources that the West has used to enrich itself with [21]. In fact, Monsanto now own the Epicyte gene, which causes sterility. What will be the ‘final solution’ for the likes of 600 million in India (or millions in Africa or elsewhere) who are to be removed from agriculture [22]? The eugenicists are knocking at the door.

Despite compliant politicians and officials in high places who seem hell-bent on capitulating to Monsanto and the US, many recognise the dangers associated with GMOs and are working hard to resist their introduction. However, they are attacked and accused of slowing down growth because of their resistance to GMOs [23]. Certain activists and civil organisations are also accused of working against the national interest by colluding with foreign interests to undermine ‘development’. The hypocrisy is blindingly obvious: the state itself has for a long time been colluding with foreign interests to undermine the basis of traditional agriculture.

The political backing for GMOs by the US State Department, the strategic position of the US GM biotech sector in international trade agreements and the push to get GMOs into India and to contaminate agriculture via open-field trials with the compliance of key officials and official bodies does not bode well. Independence is much more than military might, patriotic slogans and a self-congratulatory media-induced frenzy on a designated day each year. In terms of GMOs, Russia is aware of this. It is actively committed to putting the GMO genie back in the bottle [24]. Why isn’t India?

Notes

[1] http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4929-hungry-for-land-small-farmers-feed-the-world-with-less-than-a-quarter-of-all-farmland

[2] http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OI_Report_Down_on_the_Farm.pdf

[3] http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/new-evidence-of-suicide-epidemic-among-indias-marginalised-farmers

[4] http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/07/monsanto-a-contemporary-east-india-company-and-corporate-knowledge-in-india/

[5] http://www.countercurrents.org/rodrigues120813.htm

[6] http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2014/03/13/leaving-a-scorched-india?tempskin=basic

[7] http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/06/20/complete-history-monsanto-worlds-evil-corporation/

[8] http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-scandal-the-long-term-effects-of-genetically-modified-food-on-humans/14570

[9]http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Monsanto+’faked’+data+for+approvals+claims+its+ex-chief/1/83093.html

[10 http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/12715-seralini-vs-fellous-a-gmo-libel-case-over-independent-expertise-and-science

[11]  http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-researchers-attacked-evidence-denied-and-a-population-at-risk/5305324

[12] http://naturalsociety.com/breaking-new-usda-report-proves-environmental-impact-gmo-questionable/

[13] http://www.alternet.org/food/why-monsanto-wrong-about-gm-crop-promises

[14] http://fieldquestions.com/2013/02/09/bt-cotton-is-failing-blame-the-farmers/

[15] http://www.globalresearch.ca/potential-health-hazards-of-genetically-engineered-foods/8148

[16] http://www.gmoseralini.org/republication-seralini-study-science-speaks/

[17] http://www.psrast.org/soilecolart.htm

[18] http://gmo-journal.com/2011/06/17/loss-of-biodiversity-and-genetically-modified-crops/

[19] http://bodhita.com/russia-labels-gmo-foods-as-biological-warfare-weapon/

[20] http://www.bhoomimagazine.org/article/cash-food-will-strike-very-foundation-economy

[21] http://farmwars.info/?p=11879

[22] http://reimagining.cepa.lk/index.php/en/development-news/item/229-corporate-power-women-and-resistance-in-india-today-an-interview-with-arundhati-roy

[23] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ngos-stance-on-development-projects-to-hit-growth-ib/article6105289.ece

[24] http://rt.com/op-edge/159948-gmo-food-russia-law/

 

  • Tony

    Monsanto doesn’t control cotton production – it sells seed ! The farmers control production. Your facts are wrong and logical is worse. As you say its mostly small farms. The farmers have a choice in what seed they buy. Whatever seed they buy if it doesn’t rain everything dies. Period. GM cotton means far less insecticide spraying is needed. You can control weeds by hand weeding or herbicides. herbicides were used before Gm cotton and Gm cotton increases choices for farmers. Contrary to the scare stories Indian farmers are not committing suicide due to Monsanto… every thorough report on this has shown this to be in fact the opposite.

    This is another one of these rehashed stories trying to deceive people. Monsanto doesn’t make food or cotton. It sells seed and mainly one herbicide. It sells less than 5% of the world’s seed. (they do sell about 35% of US’s corn and soy seed).

    You would have to be really stupid to believe they control cotton or food. But then I would expect you to think that way by reading articles like this written by people with a political agenda unrelated to facts

    • 1) Monsanto controls production by controlling seed. Farmers’ choice has been curtailed.

      “Monsanto’s virtual monopoly over the seed market means that farmers cannot find non-GM seed on the market. The company’s Bt cotton is sold under several brand names because Monsanto has licensing agreements with a number of Indian seed companies. Few farmers have any choice but to buy Monsanto’s Bt cotton.” From a recent report by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

      2} I do not say farmers are committing suicide (solely) due to GMOs/Monsanto. I say: “Hundreds of thousands of farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic liberalisation”. And I provide a reference for that claim.

      3) Do I say Monsanto controls food? No I do not. I merely highlight the dangers of it doing so (and its intent to do so).Read Willian F Engdahl’s book to see how Rockefeller and the US set out to control poor nations with the ‘green revolution’. The control of food is a real issue.

      4) I do not claim herbicide use in India pertaining to GM cotton has increased (although there are now big problems due to bollworm resistance). The references I use to back up my claim that such use has increased related to (food) crops elsewhere. However, I would have been justified in making such a claim because a recent report across the ‘cotton belt’ in India (90 percent bt) indicates pesticide use is now the same or more than it was before bt cotton was introduced).

      4) No Monsanto doesn’t ‘make’ food or cotton. They genetically engineer seeds or produce hybrids and patent them. In India they patent bt cotton seeds via process patenting (not product patenting), which still ensures they receive massive ‘royalties’. I have actually quoted the figure in another article.

      And if you think bt cotton in India has had positive benefits, as you seem to, think again. In a report released in August 2012, the Indian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture concluded that, “after the euphoria of a few initial years, Bt cotton cultivation has only added to the miseries of the small and marginal farmers”. The committee called for a complete ban on open field trials of GM crops in India, until the country was able to develop a better regulatory and monitoring system.

      You finish by saying: “But then I would expect you to think that way by reading articles like this written by people with a political agenda unrelated to facts.”

      This is a tactic commonly adopted to rubbish anyone who writes an article that criticises GMOs and/or Monsanto based on research and/or respected analyses from specialists in their chosen field. The references above are included for a reason. And I have provided hundreds of other references (peer-reviewed science, official reports, etc) in the dozens of other articles I’ve written on this topic.

      The political agenda (or scare mongering – ‘without GM we will not feed the world’ is the common mantra from the GMO lobby – which is untrue) does not come from concerned people like me. The political agenda comes from the GMO biotech sector which has hijacked various bodies in the US and is trying to do so in Europe and India. Again, this is not a wild claim. I have fully backed up this claim with referenced in previous articles.

      You set up a straw man argument in an attempt to demolish it and to smear me. I suggest it is you who making statements unrelated to facts and unrelated to anything I’ve said to further your own personal agenda.

  • 1) Monsanto controls production by controlling seed. Farmers’ choice has been curtailed.

    “Monsanto’s virtual monopoly over the seed market means that farmers cannot find non-GM seed on the market. The company’s Bt cotton is sold under several brand names because Monsanto has licensing agreements with a number of Indian seed companies. Few farmers have any choice but to buy Monsanto’s Bt cotton.” From a recent report by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

    2} I do not say farmers are committing suicide (solely) due to GMOs/Monsanto. I say: “Hundreds of thousands of farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic liberalisation”. And I provide a reference for that claim.

    3) Do I say Monsanto controls food? No I do not. I merely highlight the dangers of it doing so (and its intent to do so).Read Willian F Engdahl’s book to see how Rockefeller and the US set out to control poor nations with the ‘green revolution’. The control of food is a real issue.

    4) I do not claim herbicide use in India pertaining to GM cotton has increased (although there are now big problems due to bollworm resistance). The references I use to back up my claim that such use has increased related to (food) crops elsewhere. However, I would have been justified in making such a claim because a recent report across the ‘cotton belt’ in India (90 percent bt) indicates pesticide use is now the same or more than it was before bt cotton was introduced).

    4) No Monsanto doesn’t ‘make’ food or cotton. They genetically engineer seeds or produce hybrids and patent them. In India they patent bt cotton seeds via process patenting (not product patenting), which still ensures they receive massive ‘royalties’. I have actually quoted the figure in another article.

    And if you think bt cotton in India has had positive benefits, as you seem to, think again. In a report released in August 2012, the Indian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture concluded that, “after the euphoria of a few initial years, Bt cotton cultivation has only added to the miseries of the small and marginal farmers”. The committee called for a complete ban on open field trials of GM crops in India, until the country was able to develop a better regulatory and monitoring system.

    You finish by saying: “But then I would expect you to think that way by reading articles like this written by people with a political agenda unrelated to facts.”

    This is a tactic commonly adopted to rubbish anyone who writes an article that criticises GMOs and/or Monsanto based on research and/or respected analyses from specialists in their chosen field. The references above are included for a reason. And I have provided hundreds of other references (peer-reviewed science, official reports, etc) in the dozens of other articles I’ve written on this topic.

    The political agenda (or scare mongering – ‘without GM we will not feed the world’ is the common mantra from the GMO lobby – which is untrue) does not come from concerned people like me. The political agenda comes from the GMO biotech sector which has hijacked various bodies in the US and is trying to do so in Europe and India. Again, this is not a wild claim. I have fully backed up this claim with referenced in previous articles.

    You set up a straw man argument in an attempt to demolish it and to smear me. I suggest it is you who making statements unrelated to facts and unrelated to anything I’ve said to further your own personal agenda.

  • MarkDonners

    GMO is a dangerous poison. Eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto’s Roundup chemical fertilizer caused rats to develop horrifying tumors, widespread organ damage, and premature death. rats exposed to even the smallest amounts, “developed mammary tumors and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females.” The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. Everywhere GMO is being grown, food allergies, disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others have been skyrocketing in the human populations.

    There has been a drastic decline of crop-pollinating insects all over the world, and what this means for the future of the world’s food supply. Wild pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, and beetles are basically disappearing. GMO industrial agricultural practices are causing this insect genocide. Pollinating insects in general, which include a wide range of insects and other animals, are simply vanishing from their normal habitats and foraging areas. That lower diversity and lower abundance of wild insects means less fruits and destruction of the diversity of plants and their fruits worldwide.

    GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The potential impact is huge, threatening the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure.

    GMOs increase herbicide use. Most GM crops are engineered to be “herbicide tolerant”―surviving deadly weed killers. Monsanto, for example, sells Roundup Ready crops, designed to survive applications of their Roundup herbicide. Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of Roundup results in “superweeds,” resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides. Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

    GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds.

    By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.

    GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world.

    Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2009 report Failure to Yield―the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield.

    The toxins associated with GMO should never be tolerated. NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDE neurotoxins are absolutely the main factor causing the collapse of bee and pollinator populations along with other lethal chemicals, Agent Orange herbicides, glysophate, etc. When these poisons are banned as they were in Europe the bee populations start to recover. GMO neonicotinoids, roundup etc. MUST BE BANNED OUTRIGHT and all the farmers along with USDA, Biotech and chemical companies told to cease and desist from what they are doing.

    An even scarier prospect: the “BT” version of GMO soybeans and corn, (basically pesticides engineered directly into the plant )

    The “BT toxin” gene is put into the DNA of the corn in order for it to manufacture its own toxins that kill pests. The BT gene originated from a soil bacteria that also infiltrates the microflora (friendly digestive bacteria) in your gut. The Bt gene converts the microflora in your intestine into toxin-manufacturing machines.

    So, to be clear, eating GMO corn products can cause your gut (which is primarily responsible for keeping you healthy) to turn into a breeding ground for tiny little pesticide factories inside your body, actively creating toxins which are designed to kill living things. These toxins are found in the blood and are readily transferred across the placenta to developing babies in the womb.

  • MarkDonners

    Fields in the Philippines are filled with various strains of rice that INCREASE YIELD, are FLOOD-TOLERANT or INSECT-RESISTANT, all derived through CONVENTIONAL BREEDING TECHNIQUES.

    FURTHER DEMONSTRATING THAT GMO, WHICH DESTROYS THE ENVIRONMENT, DESTROYS POLLINATORS AND PLANT VARIETIES, AND REQUIRES THE MOST TOXIC PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES IN EXISTENCE (POISONS SOLD BY THE GMO COMPANIES) HAS NO USE WHATSOEVER EXCEPT FOR THE BENEFIT OF PROFITEERING US CORPORATIONS .