THINGS YOU DON’T HEAR IN THE U.S NEWS: INDIAN FARMERS DESTROY MONSTANTO’S GM CORN FIELD TRIALS
Shahabad (Kurukshetra), October 18: In a dramatic action, farmers of the BKU forced the Haryana State Agriculture University to fulfil their commitment to destroy Monsanto’s ongoing GM corn field trials in their public research station.
Last month, farmers and activists of the GM Free India coalition had met the state Agriculture Minister Paramvir Singh to show their resentment that public sector universities had become the experimental grounds for Monsanto’s risky technology. They had requested a ban on GM field trials in the state. “A month has passed since we met the Agriculture Minister but the government has failed to act on our behalf. The onus is now on us,” said Gurnam Singh, Haryana state president of the BKU.
Hundreds of farmers carrying banners reading “Monsanto GM corn Quit India” protested outside and gave an ultimatum to the research station of the Choudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCHAU) when the university officials promised that they would completely destroy the field trial. However, later Monsanto’s officials were caught trying to sneak out the GM corn from the research station with support of University staff. Alert farmers stopped them and surrounded the research station when this news spread. They then forced the University authorities to comply with their promise and burn the complete field trial.
The farmers’ protest follows a recent recommendation by India’s Supreme court to put a 10-year moratorium on all field trials of GM crops in India owing to the risks involved. Public opposition to GMOs has been building in the country owing to growing scientific evidence on the negative impact of GM crops on human health and environment. There are also concerns about the manner in which seed companies are taking control of the seed sector by using their patented GM seeds. This has been the case with the only commercially cultivated GM crop in India - Bt Cotton. Monsanto now controls more than 90% of the cotton cultivated area of India and has wiped out local cotton varieties leaving framers with no alternative choice.
take back our land
This just isn’t important because GMOs are under-tested and quite possibly dangerous, but there’s the epidemic of Indian farmers committing suicide because of the loans they take out to Monsanto. Monsanto owns both the pesticide and the seed. The crop fails, and the cycle of loans continues. Finally it breaks, and the farmer commits suicide, usually by drinking the pesticide. Why do we allow a big chemical company to patent our food? Why do we allow this? On both an ethical and a social standpoint, it’s absolutely disgusting. They’ve now gained the OK to contaminate South American corn.
The worst part is our government is in on it. Michael Taylor, former VP of Monsanto, is now heading up the FDA as of 2009. This marriage between big chemical companies and the government needs to stop. I encourage everyone, if you do it for your health, for social reasons, ethical reasons or spiritual reasons to boycott GMOs. If you need information regarding it, you can find it at The Institute for Responsible Technology, there’s also a Non-GMO Shopping Guide. Monsanto will go to every length to crush small farmers and take over both India and South America, devastating their agriculture.
And if you need more? There’s a brief documentary on the suicides. Watch it. It’s free.
To me, a lot of the anti-GMO backlash going on in the US is just ludditism. There’s a lot of scare-tactic nonsense going on where people say, “Well, there’s no evidence that it doesn’t hurt people!” Which is nonsense, and also untrue. There’s nothing inherently bad about the use of biotechnology to help make crops easier to grow and more suited to our needs. Nonsense like Proposition 37 is coming from the same idiots that brought us the baseless anti-vaccination movement. It’s awesome to have so few problems to worry about that you can make some up.
There are, however, problems with specific types of modifications and the ways they are being used, and Monsanto’s artificial monopoly on corn and soybeans is one of the biggest. This is a very real problem for ALL crop farmers, but especially ones in impoverished areas where the economy and the subsistence of the people is dependent on agriculture. See, the problem with Monsanto corn isn’t that it’s genetically modified. The problem with the corn is that it’s genetically modified to be resistant to the pesticides which you can only buy from Monsanto.
But the biggest problems have nothing to do with Monsanto seeds being genetically engineered and everything to do with their business practices. Monsanto makes customers sign a patent licensing agreement that says they will not save or reuse the seed they are buying, so that they have to buy new seed every year. If you reuse the seed, or if you use the seed harvested from the crop you grew yourself with seeds you bought, they will sue you. If your neighbor’s Monsanto crop cross-pollinates with yours, or spreads onto your land, they will sue you. I don’t know if this has happened in India, but it definitely has in the West, this is how Monsanto operates.
Worse is that when Monsanto came to India, they sold the Indian people a bill of goods. Monsanto played up their cotton seeds with bad research and flat-out lies, only to have the crops under-produce and fall to the pests they said the crops were resistant to. Furthermore, many Indians were not aware that Monsanto seeds required more water than the crops they were already growing. And what do you do, as a subsistence farmer who had to take out a loan to buy fancy never-fail Monsanto seed, which then failed and left you with nothing? You borrow more money to buy more seed. Or, apparently, commit suicide. The government was complicit in the hoodwinking of its people- they turned a blind eye to the enforcement of their own regulations, which might have helped restrict Monsanto’s expansion into India and its negative effects.
Monsanto is accused of engaging in biopiracy- basically stealing native species and commercializing them- in violation of Indian law. The government has filed suit against them. And there’s evidence that Monsanto has ignored the law in the way it tested its products in India.
It’s not genetically-modified crops that are fucking up India, it’s Monsanto’s cut-throat business practices and the complete indifference of their executives to the sacrifice of human lives necessary to increase Monsanto’s market share. I’m not an Indian farmer so I can’t really speak for them, but it seems to me that what they’re afraid of isn’t GMOs, it’s that Monsanto is going to fuck over their corn farmers the same way they fucked over their cotton farmers. And I don’t blame them. I probably wouldn’t blame them if they dragged Monsanto employees into the street and horsewhipped them, actually. They probably have it coming.
But hey, hurrah for the free market economy, amirite?