5 Facts about Monsanto in India

21 Aug

I recently visited Monsanto- India’s website and was quite shocked being greeted by this slogan: “Producing more, conserving more, improving lives. THAT’S SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE, AND THAT’S WHAT MONSANTO IS ALL ABOUT”. Don’t believe me? Check for yourselves.

If that’s not enough, Monsanto was awarded the World Food Prize (2013), often referred to as the “Nobel Prize” for Agriculture. Do you think, like me, that there’s something fishy about that? Below are a few of my findings about Monsanto in India I thought I’d share:

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BT cotton

  • Monsanto developed BT Brinjal illegally using 6 endemic varieties of Indian Brinjal. Biosafety test done raised serious health concerns.
  • In 2003, Monsanto got a patent granted in the European patent office for a variety of wheat that  had originally developed from Nap Hal, an Indian wheat variety. But was un-patented in India.
  • In the last 15 years, 270,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. Most of these suicides were in the cotton belt. Monsanto now controls 95% of the cotton seed supplies in the country through its GMO BT cotton, and the associated Intellectual property claims. Costs of cotton seed jumped 8000% with the introduction of BT cotton.
  • Monsanto has been conducting field trials in India with GM corn for commercial approval.  The biosafety assessments presented by Monsanto have been left incomplete. The most shocking is the fact that this assessment has been conducted by Monsanto laboratories itself.
  • After the US Monsanto Protection Act law was passed in March 2013, Monsanto is trying to impose a protection act in India, the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill.

    Coated seeds

What is the BRAI exactly? 

This Bill was introduced by the Ministry of Science and Technology in the Lok Sabha on 22 April 2013 as a promise to promote the safe use of modern biotechnology. This bill is a threat to our health,  the environment and agriculture. The introduction of GM seeds means that:

  • This bill promotes the use of GMO and GE in India without taking inconsideration of the health risk associated to this modern technology. Basically Monsanto thinks that more is better, doesn’t matter the quality.
  •  The bill reduces the role of the state government and gives them no power to ban or reject the introduction of GM seed on the market and citizen will not have access to information about the safety of GM food.
  • There is no socio-economic survey proving that GM will be a better solution to India agriculture. (introduction of the GM cotton is a good example of the negative effect of GM crops.

bee against monsanto

Working everyday with poor, tribal communities, I can’t imagine them buying all seeds every year, they have traditionally always kept seeds stored for the coming year. Few days ago, an Indian nationwide campaign has been launched against the BRAI Bill and GM crop to fight the invasion of Monsanto in Indian crops. You can join the fight and sign the petition.To be continued.

[Photo credit – abhisheksrivastava]

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