A first hand report from the GMO battlefront, India.
For over six months now we have been deeply involved, as ordinary citizens of India in waging a war against the attempts of seed companies like Monsanto to control our food. Add Bill Gates to the mix and you have got a powerful mix of people and companies who will stop at nothing. With the kind of money and political power, it’s next to impossible to stop them.
First the facts: Patented gene technologies will not help small farmers survive climate change, but they will concentrate corporate power, drive up costs, inhibit public sector research and further undermine the rights of farmers to save and exchange seeds.
Background: Bt Cotton
Armed with the growing power and a 26% share in Mahyco, it’s Indian counterpart, Monsanto unleashed Bt Cotton in India. PR, News and other media bought off, people started hearing how Bt cotton has been successful and made for amazing yields.
Till farmers started committing suicide. Today the numbers are placed at more than 200,000. The magical Bt Cotton was neither magical nor so Bt’ed with common sense. Predictably, the secondary pests developed a resistance and started creating havoc.
But the company had paid off the top politicians and greenwashed, blackwashed, bloodwashed the case of Bt Cotton.
Find out more about this humanitarian, ecological, environmental disaster of Bt Cotton here: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/farmersSuicidesBtCottonIndia.php
So in 2009, the GEAC (Genetic Enginnering Approval Committe) gave the go ahead to the world’s first genetically modified food that was to be directly consumed by humans - the Bt Brinjal. Also known as eggplant and aubergine.
Dr. Pushpa Bhargava was a member of the GEAC. A renowned microbiologist, Dr. Bhargava expressed shock at the approval.
Greenpeace, I am no Lab Rat, Krishi Virasat, Vandana Shiva, Gene Campaign and many others launched a campaign protesting the decision.
Millions of educated Indians got into the act.
And within 72 hours, our environment minister, Mr. Jairam Ramesh’s offices was flooded with over 70,000 faxes and thousands of emails, saying Bt Brinjal must not be approved.
But it was the citizens of India who took it upon themselves to protest against this environmental colonialism. Thousands of letters from housewives, students and just about everyone poured into Mr. Jairam's office. From all corners of the country.
Never before was such a spontaneous environmental protest seen in this country’s history. Jairam Ramesh put off the decision till February. He said he would travel around the country and hold a series of public consultations. He would take the opinion of people, scientists and farmers.
Monsanto-Mahyco had politicians by their side. The science and technology minister of India, the agricultural minister of India came in defense of Bt Brinjal. Said it was harmless.
With all the power in their hands, Monsanto thought it had the game in control
Except they made a little mistake. They hadn’t realized that bigger than money, bigger than politics, bigger than anything else is something called the country.
It was India’s food security at stake and people came out in millions and took a stand against this blatant attempt at a new kind of colonialism.
And the Indians fought a pitched battle against Monsanto and their allies. Watch videos and see reports here: http://greenpeace.in/safefood/
Blogs like this were continuously giving out information which the mainstream media and newspapers refused to cover. http://greatindiansale.blogspot.com/search?q=bt+brinjal
The protest was democratic. More than 100,000 people around the country fasted in protest against Bt Brinjal on Martyrs Day - 30th January (anniversary of Gandhi’s assasination)
It was found that the politicians in favour of Bt Brinjal were singing Monsanto’s tune. In fact, they were quoting form Monsanto’s publicity material. Independent scientists wrote to the PM pointing out how promotional material of a pseudo-scientific organization funded primarily by Monsanto had found its way into government briefings on GM crops:
In the consultations, Monsanto brought in paid stooges to pose as farmers that supported Bt brinjals. They made a noise alongside scientists on Monsanto’s payroll. Which scientist would say things like: "people want new technology like iphone so why not btbrinjal?"
And then the decision came in. India said no to Bt Brinjal.
Here is one of the most brilliant and transparent reports by a politician we have ever seen: http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article103839.ece
Read every word. It sets s precedent for the world trying to fight the GMO Battle.
Every word of it proves India is a strong democracy. And every word of it proves that science was being hijacked by the GMO companies. (Bad, inadequate research: http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/11932-the-inadequacy-of-gm-brinjal-food-safety-studies-dr-judy-carman)
This was a victory of science.
As the Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said
"We know very little, if anything, about the long-term effects of growing GM crops. To take risks with our natural environment is wholly indefensible and irresponsible. We simply cannot afford to take risks with untested technologies.
"We are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with other nations who are opposed to GM and fight for what our people want. It is clear that concerns about GM exist in the developing, as well as the developed world, and I am pleased to see that the Indian Government has listened to public opinion."
The battle of the brinjal has been won. But the war continues around the world.
Contamination alert RT @GMWatch: URGENT: Immediate confiscation & destruction of all #Btbrinjal seed stock demanded http://bit.ly/bnzBJt
Monsanto on Monsanto: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main43.asp?filename=Ne200210go_aheads.asp
All the answers to questions like will GMOs solve world’s hunger?
Sunita Narain on the decision: http://www.business-standard.com//india/storypage.php?autono=385392
photo courtsey: The Hindu