“As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals – and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science. They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that GMOs were safe.” – Jane Goodall, in the forward about the book mentioned below.
In 1996, Steven M. Druker did something very few Americans were doing then — learn the facts about the massive venture to restructure the genetic core of the world’s food supply. The problem of unawareness still exists today, but it’s getting much better thanks to activists like Druker.
Druker, being a public interest attorney and the Executive Director of the Alliance For Bio-Integrity, initiated a lawsuit in 1998 that forced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to divulge its files on genetically engineered foods.
He’s recently published a book on the lawsuit (2015). In the book, Druker provides details of his experience, and he’s also released the documents on his website showing the significant hazards of genetically engineering foods and the flaws that the FDA made in its policy.
The book has some very impressive reviews. For example, David Schubert, Ph.D., molecular biologist and Head of Cellular Neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies said that this “incisive and insightful book is truly outstanding. Not only is it well-reasoned and scientifically solid, it’s a pleasure to read – and a must-read.”
You can click on the link to read more info. Apart from efforts like this from Druker, there is a wealth of science that has also emerged detailing various concerns. This science, both health and environmental, has been cited by more than 35 countries that have now completely banned the growing and import of GMO crops. Many also have severe restrictions on them, as well as the pesticides that go with them. There are also concerning Wikileaks documents pertaining to GMOs…
The Seeds Of Suicide: How Monsanto Destroys Farming
Below is an article written by Dr. Vandana Shiva, trained as a Physicist at the University of Punjab, and completed her Ph.D. on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory’ from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India. In 1982, she founded an independent institute – the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun – dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, working in close partnership with local communities and social movements. In 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades, Navdanya has worked with local communities and organisations, serving more than 500,000 men and women farmers.
You can learn more about her, and what she is doing by visiting her website HERE.
The general gist of the article is about Monsanto putting vast amounts of articles to debunk all of the suicides that have been committed by farmers in India, due to the company’s control over the cotton seed supply. It goes into the idea that, when a corporation controls seed, it controls life, including the life of farmers worldwide. It was written and published in 2013.
Monsanto and its PR men are trying desperately to delink the epidemic of farmers suicides in India from its growing control over the cotton seed supply. For us it is the control over seed, the first link in the food chain, the source of life which is our biggest concern. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life. Including the life of our farmers.
The trends of Monsanto’s concentrated control on the seed sector in India or across the world is the central issue. This is what connects the farmer suicides in India, to Monsanto v Percy Schmeiser in Canada, or Monsanto v Bowman in the US, to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty. Through patents on seeds, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” on the planet, collecting rents from life’s renewal and from farmers, the original breeders. Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not the “creation” or invention of the plant. They are seeds of deception – the deception of Monsanto being the creator of seeds and life, the deception that while it sues farmers and traps them in debt, it is working for farmers’ welfare and “improving farmers lives” – the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of super pests and super weeds [PDF].
In 1995 , Monsanto introduced its Bt technology in India through a joint venture with the Indian company Mahyco.
In 1997-98, Monsanto started open field trials of its propriety GMO Bt cotton illegally, and had announced it would be selling the seeds commercially the following year.
India has had rules for regulating GMOs since 1989 under the Environment Protection Act. Under these rules, it is mandatory to get approval from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the Ministry of Environment for GMO trials.
When we found out that Monsanto had not applied for approval, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology sued Monsanto in the Supreme Court of India. As a result, Monsanto could not start commercial sales of its Bt cotton seeds until 2002. But it had started to change Indian agriculture before that.
‘Seeds of suicide’
The entry of Monsanto in the Indian seed sector was made possible with a 1988 Seed Policy imposed by the World Bank, requiring the government of India to deregulate the seed sector.
Five things changed with Monsanto’s entry. First, Indian companies were locked into joint ventures and licensing arrangements, and concentration over the seed sector increased. In the case of cotton, Monsanto now controls 95 percent of the cotton seed market through its GMOs. Second, seed which had been the farmers’ common resource became the “intellectual property” of Monsanto, for which it started collecting royalties thus raising the costs of seed. Third, open-pollinated cotton seeds were displaced by hybrids, including GMO hybrids. A renewable resource became a non-renewable patented commodity. Fourth, cotton which had earlier been grown as a mixture with food crops now had to be grown as a monoculture, with higher vulnerability to pests, disease, drought and crop failure. Finally, Monsanto started to subvert India’s regulatory processes, and in fact started to use public resources to push its non-renewable hybrids and GMOs through so-called public private partnerships (PPP).
The creation of seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides, and agrarian distress.
I have always been critical of reductionism. I look at systems, and at contextual causation. It is this system that Monsanto has created of seed monopoly, crop monocultures and a context of debt, dependency and distress – which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt. The highest acreage of Bt cotton is Maharashtra, and this is also where the highest farm suicides are. According to P Sainath, who has covered farmer suicides extensively: “The total number of farmers who have taken their own lives in Maharashtra since 1995 is closing in on 54,000. Of these, 33,752 have occurred in nine years since 2003, at an annual average of 3,750. The figure for 1995-2002 was 20,066 at an average of 2,508.” Suicides have increased after Bt cotton was introduced. The price of seed jumped 8,000 percent; Monsanto’s royalty extraction and the high costs of purchased seed and chemicals have created a debt trap.
According to data from the Indian government, nearly 75 percent rural debt is due to purchased inputs. Farmers’ debt grows as Monsanto profits grow. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto’s seeds are those of suicide. An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton growing states in India: “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”
Moreover, after the damning report of the parliamentary committee on Bt crops, the panel of technical experts appointed by the supreme court has recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops.
And the ultimate seeds of suicide are Monsanto’s patented Terminator Tecnology that create sterile seed. The Convention on Biological Diversity has banned its use, otherwise Monsanto would be collecting even higher profits from it.
“Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more.”
“Produce more. Conserve more. Improving farmers’ lives.”
This is the announcement on Monsanto India’s website. All the pictures are of smiling prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. However, we see that the reality on the ground is completely different. Farmers are in debt and in deep distress, and have become dependent on Monsanto’s seed monopoly. Most of the farmers who have committed suicide in India did so due to being trapped in debt and are in the cotton belt – which has become a suicide belt now: The highest suicides are in Maharashtra. Monsanto’s talk of “technology” tries to hide its real objectives of ownership, where genetic engineering is just a means to control seeds and the food system through patents and intellectual property rights.
A Monsanto representative admitted that they were “the patient, diagnostician, and physician all in one” in writing the patents on life sections in the TRIPS agreement of WTO. Stopping farmers from saving seeds and exercising their seed sovereignty was the objective. Monsanto has gone very far down the road of destroying biodiversity and seed sovereignty. It is now extending its patents to conventionally-bred seed – as in the case of broccoli and capsicum, or the low-gluten wheat it had pirated from India, which we challenged as a biopiracy case in the European Patent Office.
That is why we have started Fibres of Freedom in the heart of Monsanto’s Bt cotton/suicide belt in Vidharba. We have created community seed banks with indigenous seeds and helped farmers go organic. No GMO seeds, no debt, no suicides. We save and share seeds of life and freedom – diverse, open-pollinated, GMO-free, patent-free seeds.
Dr Vandana Shiva is a physicist, eco-feminist, philosopher, activist, and author of more than 20 books and 500 papers. She is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and has campaigned for biodiversity, conservation and farmers’ rights – winning the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993.
Follow her on Twitter: @drvandanashiva