Illegal GM cotton spreads across India


Author(s):
Latha Jishnu
Issue Date:
2013-5-22

In a replay of Bt cotton saga, Monsanto‘s Roundup Ready Flex is being grown in at least three states without clearance

GM cotton has proved to be a grim experience<br />
for farmers as erratic rains and high costs of cultivation have resulted in<br />
poor returns. This appears to be a prime cause of the wave of farmer suicides<br />
that have touched nearly 9,000 since 2005GM cotton has proved to be a grim experience for farmers as erratic rains and high costs of cultivation have resulted in poor returns. This appears to be a prime cause of the wave of farmer suicides that have touched nearly 9,000 since 2005 (Photo by Amit Shanker)

In the sweltering cotton fields of northern and western India, a special cotton seed that is tolerant to herbicides is spreading fast, making a mockery of the country’s ability to regulate the use of genetically modified (GM) technology. The seeds, according to reports from Gujarat, Punjab and Maharashtra, are those of biotech giant Monsanto which have been genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, the active ingredient of its herbicide Roundup. India has yet to approve herbicide-tolerant seeds.
This is a replay of how GM technology took root in the country 12 years ago.

In 2001, reports were rife of the widespread use of Bt cotton, the GM cottonseed, in Gujarat where thousands of farmers had started illegal cultivation before the regulators could approve its commercial use. Following a campaign by the industry and leading media organisations, Bt cotton was cleared without some essential safeguards. Regulators did little to check how Bt cotton was being grown, whether the mandatory refugia or buffer zones were being maintained to prevent the contamination of non-Bt fields that would also help to slow down the resistance to Bt.

In 2013, history is repeating itself as herbicide-tolerant GM cotton known as Roundup Ready Flex  (RRF) spreads illegally in at least three states. Roundup Ready Flex, first reported to be in use in Gujarat last season, has since spread to Punjab and Maharashtra although the regulator, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, has not cleared the technology. This is being field-tested by Monsanto’s Indian partner, the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company better known as Mahyco.

Mahyco, incidentally, was the first Indian company to get approval for the commercial release of Bt cotton that was marketed as Bollgard in 2002.

Farmers’ organisations in Maharashtra, particularly those in Vidarbha, have become alarmed by the spread of the illegal Roundup Ready Flex. The region is notorious for the huge numbers of suicides by primarily cotton farmers in the past 15 years and farmers’ lobbies have been blaming the use of GM technology or Bt cotton as it is known for the spate of suicides. Glyphosate kills only the weeds and leaves the crop, reducing labour for farmers.   However, a significant concern with the heavy use of glyphosate is that it leads to the growth of superweeds that are resistant to glyphosate.

A recent report from Manitoba, Canada, says more than one million acres (404,686 hectares, one acre equals 0.4 ha) of Canadian farmland have glyphosate-resistant weeds growing on them. This estimate is based on a survey of 2,028 farmers, conducted by Stratus Agri-Marketing Inc. This is an extremely high figure which has been disputed but in the US, the biggest user of GM, pesticide use has gone up dramatically due GM herbicide-resistant weeds, warns Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Millions of acres of glyphosate-resistant weeds are causing real harm, such as increased tillage that increases soil erosion,” he points out.

In India, the spread of Roundup Ready GM cotton is matter of serious concern since GEAC had called for additional tests by Mahyco. Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers’ advocacy group that is fighting to safeguard the sustainability of agriculture in drought-prone Vidarbha,  says herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton is being openly sold at Rs1,500/ per packet of RRF (450 gm) “which is highly objectionable because RRF is yet to receive approval”.

GEAC sources say Mahyco has been asked to provide detailed data on the use of RRF and its impact on the environment and approval for its commercial release is some way off.


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/illegal-gm-cotton-spreads-across-india

 

We Don’t Need Genetically Engineered Bananas For Iron Deficiency



By Vandana Shiva

 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The latest insanity from the genetic engineers is to push GMO bananas on India for reducing iron deficiency in Indian women.

Nature has given us a cornucopia of biodiversity, rich in nutrients. Malnutrition and nutrient deficiency results from destroying biodiversity, and with it rich sources of nutrition.

The Green Revolution has spread monocultures of chemical rice and wheat, driving out biodiversity from our farms and diets.

And what survived as spontaneous crops like the amaranth greens and chenopodium (bathua) which are rich in iron were sprayed with poisons and herbicides. Instead of being seen as iron rich and vitamin rich gifts, they were treated as “weeds”. A Monsanto representative once said that Genetically Engineered crops resistant to their propriety herbicide Roundup killed the weeds that “steal the Sunshine”. And their RoundUp Ads in India tell women “Liberate yourself, use Roundup”. This is not a recipe for liberation, but being trapped in malnutrition.

As the “Monoculture of the Mind” took over, biodiversity disappeared from our farms and our food. The destruction of biodiverse rich cultivation and diets has given us the malnutrition crisis, with 75% women now suffering from iron deficiency.

Our indigenous biodiversity offers rich sources of iron. Amaranth has 11.0 mg per 100gm of food, buckwheat has 15.5,neem has 25.3,bajra has 8.0,rice bran 35.0,rice flakes 20.0bengal gram roasted 9.5,Bengal gram leaves 23.8 ,cowpea 8.6,horse gram6.77, amaranth greens have upto 38.5,karonda 39.1,lotus stem 60.6, coconut meal 69.4,niger seeds 56.7,cloves 11.7,cumin seeds 11.7.mace 12.3,mango powder (amchur) 45.2,pippali 62.1,poppy seeds 15.9,tamarind pulp 17.0,turmeric 67.8, raisins 7.7……..

The knowledge of growing this diversity and transforming it to food is women’s knowledge. That is why in Navdanya we have created the network for food sovereignty in women’s hands – Mahila Anna Swaraj.

The solution to malnutrition lies in growing nutrition, and growing nutrition means growing biodiversity, it means recognizing the knowledge of biodiversity and nutrition among millions of Indian women who have received it over generations as “Grandmothers Knowledge”. For removing iron deficiency, iron rich plants should be grown everywhere, on farms, in kitchen gardens, in community gardens, in school gardens, on roof tops, in balconies….Iron deficiency was not created by Nature. And we can get rid of it by becoming co-creators and co-producers with Nature.

But there is a “creation myth” that is blind to nature’s creativity and biodiversity, and to the creativity, intelligence and knowledge of women. According to this “creation myth” of capitalist patriarchy, rich and powerful men are the “creators”. They can own life through patents and intellectual property. They can tinker with nature’s complex evolution over millennia, and claim their trivial yet destructive acts of gene manipulation “create” life, “create” food, “create” nutrition. In the case of GM bananas it is one rich man, Bill Gates, financing one Australian scientist, Dale, who knows one crop, the banana, to impose inefficient and hazardous GM bananas on millions of people in India and Uganda who have grown hundreds of banana varieties over thousands of years in addition to thousands of other crops.

The project is a waste of money, and a waste of time. It will take 10 years and millions of dollars to complete the research. But meantime, governments, research agencies, scientists will become blind to biodiversity based, low cost, safe, time tested, democratic alternatives in the hands of women.

Bananas only have 0.44mg of iron per 100 grams of edible portion. All the effort to increase iron content of bananas will fall short of the iron content of our indigenous biodiversity.

Not only is the GM banana not the best choice for providing iron in our diet, it will further threaten biodiversity of bananas and iron rich crops, and introduce new ecological risks.

First, the GM banana, if adopted, will be grown as large monocultures, like GM Bt cotton, and the banana plantations in the banana republics of Central America. Since government and Aid agencies will push this false solution, as has happened with every “miracle” in agriculture, our biodiversity of iron rich foods will disappear.

The idea of “nutrient farming” of a few nutrients in monocultures of a few crops has already started to be pushed at the policy level. The finance Minister announced an Rs 200 crore project for “nutri farms” in his 2013 budget speech.

Humans need a biodiversity of nutrients including a full range of micronutrients and trace elements. These come from healthy soils and biodiversity.

Second, our native banana varieties will be displaced, and contaminated. These include Nedunendran, Zanzibar, Chengalikodan, Manjeri Nendran II

 

Table varieties
Monsmarie, Robusta, Grand Naine, Dwarf Cavendish, Chenkadali, Poovan, Palayankodan,Njalipoovan, Amritsagar, Grosmichel, Karpooravalli, Poomkalli, Koompillakannan, Chinali, Dudhsagar, Poovan, Red banana

 

Culinary varieties

Monthan, Batheea Kanchikela Nendrapadathy

Njalipoovan, Palayankodan, Robusta.

(KERALA AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY ORGANIC PRODUCTION OF BANANA (Musa spp.)

 

There is a perverse urge among the biotechnology brigade to declare war against biodiversity in its centre of origin. An attempt was made to introduce Bt brinjal into India which is the centre of diversity for Brinjal. GM corn is being introduced in Mexico, the centre of diversity of corn. The GM banana is being introduced to the two countries where banana is a significant crop and has large diversity. One is India, the other is Uganda, the only country where banana is a staple.

Fourth, as recognized by Harvest Plus, the corporate alliance pushing Biofortification, there could be insurmountable problems with the biofortification of nutrients in foods as they: “… may deliver toxic amounts of nutrients to an individual and also cause its associated side effects (and) the potential that the fortified products will still not be a solution to nutrient deficiencies amongst low income populations who may not be able to afford the new product and children who may not be able to consume adequate amounts.” (Food Biofortification: no answer to ill-health, starvation or malnutrition By Bob Phelpshttp://www.freshfruitportal.com/opinion-biofortification-is-an-obstacle-to-food-justice)

 

Fifth, Australian scientists are using a virus that infects the banana as a promoter. This could spread through horizontal gene transfer. All genetic engineering uses genes from bacteria and viruses. Independent studies have shown that there are health risks associated with GM foods.

 

There is no need for introducing a hazardous technology in a low iron food like bananas (which brings us many other health benefits )when we have so many affordable, accessible, safe and diverse options for meeting our nutritional needs of iron.

 

We have to grow nutrition by growing biodiversity, not industrially “fortify” nutritionally empty food at high cost, or put one or two nutrients into genetically engineered crops.

 

We don’t need these irresponsible experiments, that create new threats to biodiversity and our health, imposed by powerful men in distant places, who are totally ignorant of the biodiversity in our fields and thalis, and who never bear the consequences of their destructive power. We need to put food security in women’s hands so that the last woman and the last child can share in nature’s gifts of biodiversity.

 

Defeat Monsanto — Vote YES on Prop 37 #mustshare


15th October 2012

By Jack Adam Weber

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

On November 6th this year all of us that despise GMOs and Monsanto will be waiting with bated breath for the outcome of one single proposition that, if passed, could topple the GMO empire in the United States and trickle down to other countries around the world.

Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,

is a citizen generated ballot initiative for mandatory labeling of GMO products in California. If Proposition 37 is voted in, it will:

 

a) Require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.

b) Prohibit labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”

c) Exempt from this requirement foods that are “certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.”

Friends, this is the moment we have been waiting for. This is our most promising opportunity to achieve what we have all been working so hard for, for so long. If we don’t win this, we may never have the chance again.

According to the Organic Consumers Association, we are currently ahead 3 to 1 in California on this vote (passing Prop 37). But we can’t rest easy. Monsanto and other biotech companies know how big this is. Recent statistics show they have already contributed some 37 million dollars to television ads full of misinformation and lies as a last-ditch effort to defeat Proposition 37. They have succeeded with these tactics in the past in other states.

We cannot let them win this time.

Many states have tried to adopt GMO labeling legislation in the past and failed because the legislation was not citizen generated and government officials cowered under threats of a lawsuit by Monsanto. The most recent was Vermont. California is the eighth largest economy in the world, if it were considered a country. Passing this legislation will set a precedent for GMO labeling in other states. Many experts say that if Prop 37 passes in California, GMO labeling might as well be a national law. This is what we want.

Believe it or not, many Americans still don’t even know what a GMO is.

When foods are labeled as GMO, even Monsanto admits it is equivalent to putting a skull and crossbones on it. Sales will plummet; the good word on bad GMOs will spread like wildfire. This is what we want, and now is our chance to deliver the fatal blow to the GMO horror machine.

90% of Americans want GMO labeling. Why don’t we have it? You know the answer—power, greed, money, lies, and corruption at the expense of our health. Let’s all do our part now to make sure the majority of Californians know what’s up. We don’t want Monsanto and friends to have any chance at winning. Here is what you can do; please do this today so that we have as much time as possible for the word to spread:

1. Send an email to everyone you know in California and tell them to vote YES ON PROP 37.

2. Post this on your FB page, along with this link to this article:

  • California friends, please vote YES on Prop 37 this November for the mandatory labeling of GMOs in our food.
  • Please tell all your California email and Facebook contacts to vote “YES on Prop 37.

3) Please join GEM (GMO Eradication Movement).

It is safe to say that the future of food, our own health, and the health of our planet hinges on this vote, now less than one month away. If we don’t win this, we will have lost a crucial chance, and perhaps our last good chance for a while. If we do win this, we will have the biggest party ever!

Please do your part, today. WE need YOU.

Video: Right to Know: Vote Yes on Prop 37… Funny Short Ad!!!

Previous articles by Jack Adam Weber

About the Author

Jack Adam Weber is a licensed acupuncturist, master herbalist, author, organic farmer, celebrated poet, and activist for Earth-centered spirituality. He integrates poetry, ancient wisdom, holistic medicine, and depth psychology into passionate presentations for personal fulfillment as a path to planetary transformation. His books, artwork, and provocative poems can be found at his website PoeticHealing.com. Jack can be reached at Jack@PoeticHealing.com or on Facebook

 

 

Bt Brinjal poses a risk to health, environment: Greenpeace report


NEW DELHI, April 30, 2012

‘Spread of the Bt gene could make the brinjal a problematic weed

An independent enquiry has revealed that the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE, also called genetically modified, or GMBt brinjal poses risks to the environment and possibly to human health. The occurrence of wild, weedy and also cultivated relatives presents a likelihood that the GE Bt gene will spread to these relatives but, so far, this has largely been overlooked in the risk assessments for GE Bt brinjal, it says.

Genetically engineered Bt brinjal and the implications for plant biodiversity – revisitedan independent study commissioned by Greenpeace International, finds that brinjal relatives do occur in the regions where cultivation of GE Bt brinjal is proposed, and that GE Bt brinjal may mate with these relatives to spread the GE Bt gene. Spread of the GE Bt gene would have considerable ecological implications, as well as implications for future crop contamination and farmers’ rights.

Importantly, the spread of the GE Bt gene could result in the brinjal becoming an aggressive and problematic weed, the Greenpeace report suggests, while impressing upon the governments the need to employ the precautionary principle and not permit any authorisation of the outdoor cultivation of GEBt brinjal, including field trials

The cultivation of GE Bt brinjal is proposed in some countries across Asia, including India, where there is currently a moratorium on commercialisation, and the Philippines, where field trials are going on. “There are many concerns with GE brinjal, which has been engineered to be resistant to certain insect pests using Bt genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. These concerns include food safety and possible effects on organisms other than the pest insect (non-target organisms), such as beneficial insects and butterflies.”

One of the least known aspects of the GE Bt brinjal is its ability to cross with wild relatives or cultivated varieties. This is because there are no recent reviews in the scientific literature concerning species related to brinjal, and where they grow across Asia. This information is vital when addressing concerns regarding cultivation of GE Bt brinjal, because insect-resistance gives a selective advantage to the plant, increasing its ability to survive and reproduce. If the GE Bt brinjal cross-pollinates wild, weedy or cultivated relatives, the result is a hybrid offspring, which may grow more aggressively and thus become a problem weed, the report says.

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