Justifiably indignant Vandana Shiva has written a scorching rebuke aimed at notorious multinational chemical and biotech corporate misanthrope Monsanto.
At issue is Monsanto’s blatant misuse of its position as a dominant supplier of GE cotton seeds in India and Monsanto’s charging of astronomical royalty fees to farmers. In its quest to establish monopoly control, Monsanto has flagrantly violated Indian laws, pushed farmers into economic crisis and caused the suicides of hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers. Jim
“Fact is that Monsanto has viewed the laws of our land as mere hurdles in its way to swindle India and our farmers. On March 10, 1995, Mahyco (Monsanto-Mahyco) brought 100 grams of cotton seeds, containing the MON531-Bt gene, into India without the approval of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
“Eager to establish a monopoly in India based on the smuggled MON531 gene, Monsanto-Mahyco started large scale, multi-centric, open field trials of Bt cotton in 40 locations spread across nine states, again without GEAC approval.
“Article (7) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, states: ‘No person shall import, export, transport, manufacture, process, use or sell any hazardous microorganisms or genetically engineered organisms/substances or cells except with the approval of the GEAC.’ GMO traits, once released into the environment, cannot be contained or recalled…
“India’s laws, rightly, do not permit patents on seeds and in agriculture. This has always been a problem for Monsanto and, through the US administration, it has attempted to pressure India into changing her robust intellectual property regime since the World Trade Organisation came into existence, and continues to do so today…
“In 2006, out of the Rs 1,600 per 450 gram package of Bt cotton seed (Rs 3,555.55/kg), almost 80 per cent (Rs 1,250) was charged by MMB as “trait fee”. In stark contrast, before Monsanto destroyed alternative sources of seed (including local hybrid seed supply) through unfair business practices, local seeds used to cost farmers Rs 5-9/kg..
“Monsanto’s ruthlessness is central to the crisis Indian farmers are facing. Farmers leveraged their land holdings to buy Bt cotton seeds and the chemicals it demanded, but the golden promise of higher yield and reduced pesticide use failed to deliver.
“Of the 300,000 farmer suicides in India since Monsanto smuggled the Bt gene into India in 1995, 84 per cent, almost 252,000, are directly attributed to Monsanto’s Bt cotton.”