Tell The Indian Government to Stop Risking The Non-GM Status Of Indian RiceBig GM Seeds Buccaneers
The People of IndiaThe Fight Intensifies
By Arun Shrivastava
The India Government is firmly under control of buccaneers of bio-technology and
spurious Life Sciences multinational corporations. Despite rules to the contrary, GM experiments have been going on across
India with the complicity of the Indian Government. Most importantly, the attack is now on rice.
India is a centre
of origin for rice and the centre for diversity for rice genes, in the same way as Mexico is for corn. It is therefore much
more than just a rice country. This makes the Government’s cavalier attitude to India’s Non-GM status for rice,
one of irresponsible criminal negligence. In embarking on high-risk field trials of GM-rice, it exposes our rice farmers to
contamination by GM including transgenic contamination of wild species and the rice seed stock. If we Indians lose control
over local rice seeds we lose our right to food and nutrition. We lose our sovereignty.
Government exercised due diligence?
In granting permission for field trials, the Government of India
has failed to protect the people’s interest and health. The Supreme Court of India [SC] in its interim order in matter
of a Public Interest Litigation [PIL] number 260 of 2006 [1st May 2006] had directed that an inter-ministerial “Genetic
Engineering Approvals Committee” [GEAC] be formed and all applications for field trails be routed via GEAC. This does
not imply that the SC had given a carte blanche to GEAC to approve field trials; rather, the directive was to prevent one
department [the Department of Biotechnology] from taking unilateral decisions and bring in some discipline.
However, in the ‘67th Meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval
Committee’ held on 22.05.2006, the GEAC brushed aside all such concerns and in utter defiance of the spirit of the Order
it has rubberstamped an astonishing 91 GM products for multi-location trials [MLTs]
91 approvals in one meeting.
forced the Supreme Court to pass another order on 20th September, 2006:
[Whilst it is] not inclined
to direct stoppage of field trials. At the same time, [the Supreme Court] deem it appropriate to direct the GEAC to withhold
the approvals till further directions are issued by this Court on hearing all concerned. [Record of Proceedings, Item No 9, Writ Petition No 260 of 2006; the Supreme Court of India]
only that approvals have been rushed through in anticipation of a possible full spectrum ban on field trial in India, activists
have been stone walled from obtaining information on locations and type of seeds being tested. It is only after petition under
Right to Information [RTI Act of 2005] were filed that some information has been revealed by the Department of Biotechnology.
the big seed companies [in this instance Monsanto, operating through its Indian Joint Venture partners Maharashtra Hybrid
Seeds Corporation or Mahyco] have committed crimes against humanity with full connivance of
officials of the Department of Biotechnology and members of GEAC [which means several Ministries are also involved, chiefly,
the Minister of Agriculture & the Ministry of Environment & Forest].
This is a crime against the
people of India and against India’s farmers because these approvals have been given knowing the fact that in the last
two years, 70% of the farmer suicides in the Maharashtra belt are Bt cotton farmers suicides.
“During the latter part of April, the Centre for Sustainable
Agriculture (CSA) uncovered deadly toxic reaction in sheep and goats in Warangal in AP from grazing in Bt cotton fields in
Feb/March, post the last cotton harvest of 2005-2006. Local shepherds estimate the total mortality for the area to
be around 10,000 dead sheep and goats.” [Page 4, Application
for interim order, in the SC of India, No 260 of 2006]
We do not care how many acres have been planted. We do know that six varieties of Bt
rice are under open field trials. These are: MRP 5305 Bt., MRP5319Bt., MRP 5401 Bt., MRP5445Bt., MRP 5629 Bt., and MRP5631
Whilst Bt rice trials have been approved in 10 out
of India’s 25 states, we suspect that the total area where GE field trails have been slipped in, without knowledge of
the poor farmers who rented their lands, could be significant.
This is not a new
The United States of America declared a war on Indian rice [and food security] way back in the
early 1960s when India’s No 1 scientist mole, Dr M.S. Swaminathan, stole the gene bank of rice, evolved over decades
by Dr Riccharia, and passed it over to the Americans. How many genetic varieties have been stolen? No one really knows.
was the main dramatis personae in what is known as “the great[est] gene robbery” in the history of mankind.
[See, “The Great Gene Robbery”,
by Dr Claude Alvarez, The Illustrated Weekly of India, March 23-April 5, 1986]
India had 120,000 varieties of
rice seeds; today, no more than 50 are available. This is United States’ war on genetic diversity, ably supported by
scientist-criminals like MS Swaminathan. And the worst crime of the Indian Government is to have these criminals head Agriculture
Policy of India. At age 75, Swaminathan lives to lord it over many Expert Committees, including crucial ones in the Ministry
of Agriculture. The deadly tentacles of this hydra-headed monster extend in many ministries of the Government of India. From
early 1960s, Swaminathan has been the front of the Rockefellers, implementing their agenda with full support of the US Government.
Emboldened by a deliberately errant Indian Regulator, which is malfunctioning with intent and deliberation to support
a pro GE agenda, and the open support of USAID, the GM seeds producers are furthering the agenda of destroying India’s
food sovereignty and food security knowing fully well that GE seeds do not enhance productivity [yield], which is what Indian
“For example, the USAID-backed initiative, Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project-II
(ABSP-II), is based and directed from Cornell. ABSP partners have included Asgrow, Monsanto, and Pioneer Hi-Bred. Promoting
GM is, of course, an official part of USAID's remit - one of its roles being to "integrate GM into local food systems." [Ibid]
The Trojan horse of GE seeds in India
war has been taken to new heights by Monsanto. Few know that Mahyco is the Trojan horse through which Monsanto is slipping
in GM seeds. Monsanto’s website says:
Joint venture with Mahyco 50:50 for marketing of biotech cotton seeds and 74:26 for marketing
of seeds. Both these joint ventures are by parent company and not MIL.
Parent Company is 51 per cent investment in Joint Venture with EID Parry (Hybrid
rice seed business).
R & D centre of Bangalore also belongs to parent Company.
In effect, Mahyco is the front.
As early as 1999, the Research Foundation for Science,
Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) challenged the permission given by the Government to M/s Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited
[Mahyco, Monsanto’s JV partners] in the Supreme Court, vide their Writ Petition No. 71 of 1999 for carrying out multi-centric
trials (these are limited field trials) at 15 locations in 7 states without framing proper guidelines, rules and systems for
evaluating the bio-safety and ecological and environmental impacts of genetically modified organisms used in crops. [Ibid]
it is on record that right from the earliest MLTs for Bt cotton, “improper and illegal procedures” were
followed by the GEAC/DBT and that contamination from these limited field trials (MLTs), were a major source of concern. These
observations by RFSTE are part of the record of the Rejoinder Affidavit.
The Indian taxpayer is now paying Monsanto’s
debt. The people of India will continue to pay Monsanto with their lives and property. The repercussions of the Regulator’s releases of GM foods in India will be global.
World’s best known scientists have sent their submissions
What is most
heartening is that leading scientists from all over the world have joined hands with Indian activists with their expertise
and experience. Many have filed exclusive submissions to the Supreme Court.
“Dr. Arpad Pusztai, the world renowned toxicologist and leading expert in protein lectins
in a telephone conversation with Petitioner No 1 said that in all these years of scrutinising industry studies, (and most
of these have passed through his hands), he has never seen anything quite like this. According to David Schubert, the safety
testing data on the Ministry (GEAC) website is “very poorly done and in the absence of REAL DATA it is impossible to
make any assessment of the validity of their claims”. Dr. Doug Gurian Sherman, Senior Scientist at the Centre For Food
Safety concurs. Dr. Robert Mann formerly senior lecturer in biochemistry at the University of Auckland and Advisor to successive
Ministry’s of Health in NZ, says, “I regard the 'Bt'-brinjal field-trial proposal as one of the most ill-conceived
I have encountered in my three decades of critical appraisal of GM. The risks and hazards, while not exactly known or indeed
precisely foreseeable, appear to be so grave that the proposed field-trials should be enjoined pending a thorough assessment
such as has yet to be performed.” Dr. Mae Wan Ho (of the Independent Science Panel) and Prof. Joe Cummins, Prof. Emeritus
of Genetics, University of Western Ontario, Canada, say: “In India, brinjal would be comparable to potato or tomato
in the American diet. GM Egg Plant Contains Bt Toxin Linked to Hundreds of Allergy Cases and Thousands of Sheep Deaths. It
would be unthinkable and irresponsible to approve the genetically modified eggplant. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins
find neither published studies nor experimental details on safety tests in the application for field releases of the Bt brinjal
and raise serious questions. Instead of approving more GM crops, regulatory authorities in India should start a comprehensive
enquiry into the health impacts of Bt cotton and impose a ban on further releases of all GM crops”.
So, the buccaneers have pushed GM rice and GM veggies: staple food of Indians. They have
stealthily planted GM seeds in plots right across India. It is a well known fact that GM seeds can easily contaminate non-GM
seeds through cross pollination. GM contamination could be widespread because there is no way to prevent contamination across
India’s farming areas.
How you can help India
Indian rice exporters exported 5 million tonnes of rice valued at US$1.53 billion to 102 countries worldwide. Their main markets
are Europe, North America, West Asia, and Australia. In each of these countries, the respective Governments must
The Indian Government that Consumers
Do Not Want GM Indian Rice
We suggest: Start
Next, if you are a consumer, petition your local representatives to send a
strong letter to the Government of India to install internationally acceptable test protocols to check for contamination,
at all ports and in all states and that pending such decision no primary foods be allowed in importing countries. Most importantly,
ask your representative to tell the Government of India to
Stop all GM field trials
Because it will destroy global
None of us wants to hurt Indian exporters and farmers; many poor farmers depend
on steady market provided by the exporters. Every farmer’s association has come out against GM seeds. The All India
Rice Exporters Association has expressed its readiness to work with all persons who refuse to fall in line with a pro-GM agenda
because of the demonstrated risks of GE technology. But we are also sure that when their market shrinks, these exporters and
their supplier farmers will hang every politician and member of the Indian Parliament from the nearest tree.
The impact would be swift and decisive. There is no other option. Pass the news far and wide.
Undertaking required from the Indian Government
The Government of
India must give an undertaking to the Indian rice consumers worldwide that
[a] it was dishonest in that it did not exercise due diligence and checks at ports,
including bio safety assessment based on the precautionary principle;
[b] it has unconditionally banned all GM rice and GM food field trials;
[c] it shall make public the names of producers of GM seeds, ownership [including
joint ventures in India], location, contact number, names of principal officers, and nationality of the companies, it has
granted permission for trials and dates when permissions for trials were granted;
[d] it publicly acknowledges the harms caused to humans and environment if GM crops
are planted and/or consumed based upon independent published studies, and
[e] It is prepared to compensate for health damages caused to consumers because
of consumption of GM rice.
If possible bring in lawsuits against the Government
of India for allowing shipment, if rice exports test positive for GM.
Bt (GM) rice has not been approved for human
consumption and Bt foods including rice are a proven health hazard.
All GM foods are weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, bring-in lawsuits
against the Government of the USA, including the US-FDA and USDA, like the instance cited below:
recent incident of contamination has occurred with American Long Grain Rice. The announcement in August 2006 that an unapproved
variety of genetically modified (GM) rice, i.e. not approved for human consumption, had been found at low levels in US long-grain
rice shocked the global food industry. Bayer Crop Science's GM LL601RICE had last been grown in field trials in 2001 and was
not intended for commercialization. Liberty Link 601 [LL601 rice] has been modified to be tolerant to Bayer's herbicide, Liberty
(glufosinate), so farmers can use the weed-killer without harming the crop.
The global marketing of unapproved GM
rice has led to product withdrawals in Switzerland, Germany, France, Sweden, Ireland and the UK. Exports to Europe require
certification that foods are GM-contaminant free. Japan has zero tolerance for GM crops, has halted rice imports from the
USA, and is carrying out extensive tests to detect LL601contamination level and extent.
It is obvious that there has
been a cover-up. Most corporate crimes are committed with full knowledge of top management. Bayer knew about the contamination
before it was discovered. So does Monsanto, despite its claims on its website that it operates through an Indian parent company.
Most of all, the Indian Regulator must carry the highest responsibility and stands heavily indicted.
The US Regulators are implicated for concealing the contamination from Bayer’s LL601 variety. Bayer is being
sued by growers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas, who have filed lawsuits amounting to
hundreds of millions of dollar for damaging farmers’ sales through loss of markets. The contamination had gone undetected
because no testing was done prior to this year.
The US Government is
not only stealing genetic assets, it is deliberately promoting near lethal food worldwide. Genetic Engineering if not stopped
will lead to the irreversible contamination of the world’s food at the molecular level and in perpetuity.
This demonstrates the seriousness of the crisis we face.
We need a million lawsuits worldwide
We need every lawyer, who is not part of
the inner coterie of the murderous neo-cons in Washington and London and their minions elsewhere, to work on a standard draft
in accordance with their respective national Environment Protection Laws, Food Laws, and restrictive provisions for GE experimentations,
and file one million lawsuits worldwide against Monsanto, Bayer, and others who have tested and tried in open fields any genetically
modified crops that is food for us. Lawyers also need food, healthy food!
Whilst a lawsuit claiming damage to health
may warrant proof of evidence of “damage” which will be difficult to obtain, therefore, appellants should seek
damages for contamination from genetic engineering that is known to cause [a] damages to living cells, [b] damages the environment,
and [c] damages biological diversity.
If you are a consumer, talk to lawyers in groups and file class action suits. There
is enough evidence from a number of animal studies that genetically modified foods can make you infertile, retard your children’s
growth, cause unknown and untreatable diseases, destroy your life and terminate your life prematurely.
can beat us up, bribe the Indian Police to lock our farmers up, and file utterly baseless cases just to harass us. But none
of these companies can fight a global opposition.
Your life and health is in your hands. Help us fight
this global menace.
Arun Shrivastava is a management consultant. He can be contacted
The above url documents what is going on in India and how the big bio-tech firms
are misusing their financial and political clout to harass and physically intimidate farmers.
All documents quoted in this article are in the public domain or have been placed
as evidence in a writ petition filed in the Supreme Court of India, No 206 of 2006. The case is still being heard. Detailed
references and key documents can be sent to any person interested.
We are requesting as many editors/web site administrators to place an online petition.
We need 100,000 signatures from all over the world before 14th December.
© Copyright Arun Shrivastava
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