Monsanto Protection Act Proves Corporations More Powerful Than US Government


 

 

Major Tự Đức Phang was exposed to dioxin-conta...

Major Tự Đức Phang was exposed to dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We’ve seen similar scenarios in the past, events in which the massive financial power of multi-national corporations is able to buy out legislators who were elected to ‘represent’ voters. But now, Monsanto has set the bar even higher. Instead of just getting a few kickbacks or avoiding USDA regulation, Monsanto lobbyists have gone as far as to generate legislative inclusions into a new bill that puts Monsanto above the federal government.

 

It’s called the Monsanto Protection Act among activists and concerned citizens who have been following the developments on the issue, and it consists of a legislative ‘rider’ inside (Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735) a majority-wise unrelated Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill. You may already be aware of what this rider consists of, but in case not you will likely be blown away by the tenacity of Monsanto lobbyist goons.

 

If this rider passes with the bill, which could be as early as this week, Monsanto would have complete immunity from federal courts when it comes to their ability to act against any new Monsanto GMO crops that are suspected to be endangering the public or the environment (or considered to be planted illegally by the USDA). We’re talking about courts that literally can do nothing to Monsanto if it’s found that their newest creation may be promoting cancer, for example. Whether it’s a GMO banana or an apple, Monsanto could continue planting the food abomination all it wants under court review.

 

Food Democracy Now has launched a petition on the subject, explaining:

 

“The Monsanto Protection Act would strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops.”

 

What really enraged Monsanto was the incident back in 2010, when a federal judge actually revoked Monsanto’s approval to plant GMO sugar beets due to environmental concerns. This is exactly what Monsanto intends to stop, literally becoming more powerful than federal courts in their conquest to monopolize the entire food chain.

Monsanto Overcomes US Government

 

Monsanto has literally gotten away with murder ever since it was founded way back in 1901. Very few people actually realize the history of this company. Not many activists realize that this is the same company that was responsible, along with Dow Agrosciences, for creating Agent Orange. Created for the US military to be used during Vietnam as a ‘defoliant’ (really used for incognito chemical warfare operations which affected both allied and enemy troops), the concoction that was Agent Orange consisted of a medley of highly toxic ingredients including dioxin — a type of toxic substance considered to be one of the deadliest on the planet.

 

Agent Orange, from Monsanto, killed 400,000 people and led to 500,000 children born with troubling birth defects. And in addition to those stats 1 million were rendered disabled or at least suffer from health issues from Agent Orange exposure. This includes US soldiers.

 

So what happened to Monsanto after they designed a ‘defoliant’ that was actually a deadly chemical weapon that killed, maimed, and ruined lives of innocents and US soldiers? Monsanto issued a truly heart-felt statement that their Agent Orange wasn’t really that dangerous despite all of the evidence that is now accepted as fact:

 

Oh, and they settled for what amounts to chump change in order to silence the dying veterans, paying 45% of the 180 million dollar payout in order to make the veterans drop the charges. Then, of course, they eventually went on to make genetically modified crops and take over 90 plus percent of the GM seed market. A market that they have actually cornered by patenting their seeds, which India calls ‘biopiracy’. Before that, they mass produced plastics that we now know are morphing the hormones of consumers.

 

But let’s also not forget that Monsanto has so many ties inside the US government that it has managed to slip into a very comfortable position. Former Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto, Michael Taylor ultimately became a major head the FDA. Before that, Taylor conveniently worked specifically on Monsanto’s “food and drug law” practices. Specifically in regards to Monsanto’s cloned rBGH. But remember, this was before Monsanto decided to go for a more ‘blatant’ route.

 

Now, instead of just operating in the shadows, Monsanto is pushing a much bolder move with the Monsanto Protection Act. It not only sets a troubling precedent for Monsanto, but also for other bloated multi-national corporations that want to obtain higher authority and immunity from US courts. –

 

 

 

See more at: http://www.riseearth.com/2013/03/monsanto-protection-act-proves.html#more

 

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# India – Dr Sunilam Farmer Leader Reaps Bitter Harvest #Madhyapradesh #fabricated


Social activist Sunil Mishra, who dared to fight for farmers’ rights in MP, gets lifer in a rioting case dating back to 1998. Prakhar Jainreports

Fabricated lies? Sunil Mishra, the founder-president of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, was charged with murdering a fire engine driver and assaulting police officers in 1998

Photo: AFP

DAYS AFTER he spoke about State-led persecution of social activists at a public hearing on fabricated cases in Delhi, Sunil Mishra was sentenced to life imprisonment on 18 October by a local court in Betul district, Madhya Pradesh. He was found guilty in three of the 66 false cases filed against him in 1998.

Mishra, a noted social activist and founder-president of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS), has been charged with murdering a fire engine driver, attacking a police officer with the intent to take his life and setting an inspector on fire during the 1998 farmer’s agitation in Betul district.

On 8 January 1998, the KSS had organised a rally of nearly 75,000 farmers in Multai town of the district demanding compensation for crops destroyed in the winter.

Buckling under pressure, the district authorities announced a compensation of 400 per acre. However, this failed to satisfy the farmers and they decided to intensify their protest. On 12 January, more than 10,000 people laid siege to the Multai tehsil office. The police opened fire, killing 24 farmers and injuring 115 others.

Following the incident the Digvijaya Singh-led Congress government filed a series of false cases against Mishra. He was arrested and tortured for three days, ahead of being produced before the magistrate. He was later imprisoned for three months, before being granted bail on 27 March 1998. Of the 66 cases registered against him, most were withdrawn later. However, he continued to face prosecution in 16 cases.

The state government later ordered a judicial inquiry into the firing. The report is yet to be made public. Activists say requests made under the Right to Information Act have revealed that it is untraceable.

The same year, Mishra fought the Assembly election from Multai as the “people’s representative” and won by a margin of over 50 percent.

It did not take long before Mishra became an eyesore for both the ruling and the Opposition party and he has faced the consequences of raising his voice.

The kind of storm he has been able to generate can be understood by the fact that there have been eight attempts to take his life and he has been arrested more than 125 times with over 130 cases filed against him.

Following his latest arrest on 18 October, Mishra, in an open letter, has denied all the charges levelled against him.

“The judgment does not even record the cross-examination done by us. It is disappointing. We are going to appeal against it in the Jabalpur High Court,” says his lawyer Anuradha Bhargava.

Mishra’s conviction has taken the activist fraternity by surprise. Gautam Bandopadyaya, a water rights activist from Chhattisgarh, who has followed Mishra’s work for over three decades, says he is being persecuted for playing the role of an active opposition when political parties have turned a blind eye to the plight of farmers.

“For years, he has taken the issues of the streets to the Legislative Assembly and now false charges are being used to stop him from contesting next year’s election. We will reply to this politically by taking these issues to the people,” says Bandopadyaya.

‘What happened with Binayak Sen is being repeated with Sunilam,’ says Medha Patkar

THAT MISHRA, popularly known as Sunilam, still enjoys considerable support on the ground was evident by the fact that when the judgment was pronounced, the town of Multai suspended all business in protest.

The National Alliance for People’s Movements, an umbrella organisation of several NGOs, has strongly condemned Mishra’s conviction, saying, “This is nothing but a travesty of justice, since those who need to be punished are serving in the police force and have been promoted since then, while those who were struggling for the rights of farmers have been sentenced after 14 years.”

A strongly-worded protest note signed by activists such as Medha Patkar and Prafulla Samantra says, “The wrong sentence given to Sunilam is one thing, but one is left to wonder when the 24 farmers (who were killed) and their families get justice?”

“What happened with Binayak Sen is being repeated with Sunilam,” says Patkar. “He is a non-violent social activist and is being targeted because of his protest against some of the corporate projects. There are loopholes in the judicial process too and the higher judiciary would be approached for relief.”

Prakhar Jain is a Correspondent with Tehelka.
prakhar@tehelka.com

 

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

 

 

Monsanto’s 10 most misleading talking points on GMO labeling #mustread


 

By Michele Simon

Cross-posted from Appetite for Profit

Photo by Shutterstock.

The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, The California Labeling Proposal,” in which the biotech giant explains why it is opposing the measure (to the tune of $4.2 million so far).

Even for a corporation not exactly known for its honesty and transparency, this brief webpage is riddled with deception and outright falsehoods about the initiative and its proponents. Here are the 10 most blatant examples:

1.  The law “would require a warning label on food products.”

No warning label would be required. Rather, the words “partially produced with genetic engineering” or “may be partially produced with genetic engineering” would be required on the back of the package — similar to what is now required for ingredient or allergen labeling. For whole foods, like the sweet corn coming soon to a Walmart near you, a sign would be posted on the store shelf with the words “genetically engineered.” The aim is simply to offer consumers additional information about the contents of the foods they purchase.

2. “The safety and benefits of these ingredients are well established.”

Unfortunately, no long-term studies exist on either the safety or benefits of GMO ingredients, so Monsanto has no basis for making such a claim. Indeed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not even require safety studies of genetically engineered foods. Meanwhile, some independent studies raise questions about links to allergies and other potential health risks.

3. “The American Medical Association just re-affirmed that there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods.”

This statement, while true, is taken out of context and is misleading because the American Medical Association (AMA) also (for the first time) called for mandatory premarket safety studies of GMOs. As Consumers Union recently noted in its reaction to AMA’s announcement, labeling and testing logically go together:

The AMA’s stance on mandatory labeling isn’t consistent with its support for mandatory pre-market safety assessments. If unexpected adverse health effects, such as an allergic reaction, happen as a result of GE, then labeling could perhaps be the only way to determine that the GE process was linked to the adverse health effect.

4. Food companies “have had the choice” to use GM ingredients.

Choice is a good thing; however, consumers have never had the choice. Prop 37 will give consumers a long-overdue choice about eating genetically engineered food.

5. “FDA says that such labeling would be inherently misleading to consumers.”

Of course FDA refuses to require GMO labeling, thanks to Monsanto’s arm-twisting that began more than 20 years ago. Food Democracy Now’s Dave Murphy explained the FDA decision in May upon its 20-year anniversary, which came as a result of a broader deregulatory push by the first Bush administration:

Twenty years ago this week, then-Vice President Dan Quayle announced the FDA’s policy on genetically engineered food as part of his “regulatory relief initiative.” As Quayle explained in the 1992 press conference, the American biotechnology industry would reap huge profits “as long as we resist the spread of unnecessary regulations.”

Dan Quayle’s 1992 policy announcement is premised on the notion that genetically engineered crops are “substantially equivalent” to regular crops and thus do not need to be labeled or safety tested. The policy was crafted by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lawyer who was hired by the Bush FDA to fill the newly created position of deputy commissioner of policy.

Five years earlier, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush visited a Monsanto lab for a photo op with the developers of Roundup Ready crops. According to a video report of the meeting, when Monsanto executives worried about the approval process for their new crops, Bush laughed and told them, “Call me. We’re in the dereg businesses. Maybe we can help.”

Call they did. It’s typical for corporations to get their policy agenda approved through back-channel lobbying and revolving door appointments and then point to the magical policy outcome as evidence of scientific decision-making.

6. “Consumers have broad food choices today, but could be denied these choices if Prop 37 prevails.”

There is no basis in logic that consumers could be denied food choices. Indeed, Proposition 37 actually broadens the meaningful food choices available through greater transparency. Right now, people are eating in the dark.

7. “Interestingly, the main proponents of Proposition 37 are special interest groups and individuals opposed to food biotechnology who are not necessarily engaged in the production of our nation’s food supply.”

In fact, quite a large number of food producers, farmers, and others very much “engaged in the production of our nation’s food supply” support the campaign. (See the growing list of endorsements.) Speaking of “special interest groups” wouldn’t that label apply to the likes of Monsanto and all the industrial food producers who oppose Proposition 37?

8. “Beneath their right to know slogan is a deceptive marketing campaign aimed at stigmatizing modern food production.”

“Modern food production,” is that Monsanto’s latest euphemism for scientifically altering the genetic code of the food supply? In truth, nothing is hidden “beneath” the Right to Know campaign, that’s all it’s about. But because Monsanto has no good argument for why consumers don’t have the right to know how their food is produced, it has to resort to distracting deceptions.

9. “[Proponents] opinions are in stark contrast with leading health associations.”

Another look at the long list of Prop 37 endorsements reveal that Monsanto and friends are actually out of step with leading health associations, such as:

  • American Public Health Association
  • American Medical Students Association
  • American Academy of Environmental Medicine
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility, California chapters
  • California Nurses Association

10. “The California proposal would serve the purposes of a few special interest groups at the expense of the majority of consumers.”

Again, logic defies this talking point, especially since all polling indicates a “majority of consumers” want GMO food to be labeled. Indeed, the most recent California poll shows the proposition winning by a 3-to-1 margin. No wonder Monsanto has to resort to such nonsensical talking points.

Michele Simon is a public health lawyer specializing in industry marketing and lobbying tactics. She is the author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back. She is grateful to live in Oakland, Calif., within walking distance of a farmers market. You can follow her on Twitter.

 

Bar GM food crops, says parliamentary panels #BTbrinjal #Goodnews


basudeb

The committee found that the present regulatory system in our country which comprises of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is inadequate and the regulatory system needs to be more robust, ensuring severe scrutiny.Basudeb Acharia
Chairperson, parliamentary committee on agriculture

A parliamentary committee has recommended halting all field trials of genetically modified (GM) seeds and sought an independent probe into how the government had accorded approval to Bt brinjal, a seed that was developed by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd (Mahyco).

Though it’s not mandatory for the government to accept the parliamentary standing committee’s recommendations, the suggestions of several such panels have significantly influenced government policy. Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh in 2010 imposed a moratorium on the sale of Bt brinjal seeds in India.

The recommendations of the panel comes a day after the Maharashtra government cancelled Mahyco’s licence to sell Bt cotton seed in the state. This was after allegations that the company had misinformed state agricultural officials on the availability of Bt cotton seeds for farmers.

Mahyco said in a statement that it will wait to hear from the government before addressing issues around the ban.

“In India, where 82% of the agriculture industry is of small farmers and where there is huge biodiversity, we should not go for GM foods. Even if we take the argument that we have to increase our food production according to the demands, we should look into indigenous ways to enhance it,” said Basudeb Acharya, chairman of the standing committee on agriculture and a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Pointing out that the introduction of Bt cotton was not discussed in Parliament before it was introduced in the country, Acharya said there was neither a study on its impact on cattlefeed made out of the cotton seeds, nor was any specific regulatory body to ensure food safety and standards.

The parliamentary panel, which met around 1,500 farmers in Goregaon in Maharashtra, also found they were left with no other alternatives to Bt cotton seeds in the market.

“The production cost, which was reduced due to less usage of pesticides, has been increasing,” Acharya said. “And we found largest number of suicides were reported from the areas where Bt Cotton is grown.”

The committee also pointed out that Ayurvedic medical practitioners have complained it had an adverse impact on the medicinal plants grown in the area.

The panel’s study on Cultivation of Genetically Modified Food Crops—Prospects and Effects is among the most extensive studies conducted by a parliamentary standing committee. The panel received 467 memorandums, 14,862 documents and reviewed evidences given by 50 organizations during its 27 sittings on the subject.

While Bt cotton is the only GM plant that’s allowed to be cultivated, several private companies have been looking at introducing different kinds of GM seeds, including rice, tomato and wheat.

Following protests from civil society groups and farmers, several state government’s have banned trials of GM crops.

To bring greater transparency in the way crops are tested, the government has proposed an independent regulator, called the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India. Legislation to set up the authority has been pending for two years.

Earlier this year, the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution ruled that all packaged food that was sourced from GM ingredients had to be labelled so.

The “report vindicates the concerns and positions taken by many state governments in India, such as Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, etc., which have disallowed GM crops, including field trials. It also vindicates the larger public demand not to allow GM crops into our food and farming systems” Sridhar Radhakrishnan, convener of the Coalition for a GM-Free India, a group that is opposed to the introduction of GM crops, said in a statement.

jacob.k@livem

 

Ban on Mahyco seed sale
Maharashtra Government has cancelled the licence of agriculture seed major Mahyco, to sell Bt cotton seeds in the state, following complaints.

Minister for Agriculture Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the state government was left with no option but to cancel the company’s licence, given the serious nature of the complaints. “The government has cancelled the licence of Mahyco to sell with immediate effect,” Pune-based state Agriculture Commissioner Umakant Dangat told PTI over phone. “We were hearing several complaints against them from last 2-3 years. They did advance booking but did not supply seeds. Last year, there was an acute seed shortage in the state,” Dangat said.

Mahyco did not give us its seed distribution programme for this year. There were complaints that seeds were sold in Beed and Jalna districts at inflated prices, he said.

5 Million Farmers Sue Monsanto for $7.7 Billion


Five million farmers are suing Monsanto over excessive royalty fees. (photo: Friends Eat)
Five million farmers are suing Monsanto over excessive royalty fees. (photo: Friends Eat)

 

By Anthony Gucciardi, Natural Society

06 June 12

 

aunching a lawsuit against the very company that is responsible for a farmer suicide every 30 minutes, 5 million farmers are now suing Monsanto for as much as 6.2 billion euros (around 7.7 billion US dollars). The reason? As with many other cases, such as the ones that led certain farming regions to be known as thesuicide belt, Monsanto has been reportedly taxing the farmers to financial shambles with ridiculous royalty charges. The farmers state that Monsanto has been unfairly gathering exorbitant profits each year on a global scale from “renewal” seed harvests, which are crops planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest.

The practice of using renewal seeds dates back to ancient times, but Monsanto seeks to collect massive royalties and put an end to the practice. Why? Because Monsanto owns the very patent to the genetically modified seed, and is charging the farmers not only for the original crops, but the later harvests as well. Eventually, the royalties compound and many farmers begin to struggle with even keeping their farm afloat. It is for this reason that India slammed Monsanto with groundbreaking ‘biopiracy’ charges in an effort to stop Monsanto from ‘patenting life’.

Jane Berwanger, a lawyer for the farmers who went on record regarding the case, told the Associted Press:

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production.”

The findings echo what thousands of farmers have experienced in particularly poor nations, where many of the farmers are unable to stand up to Monsanto. Back in 2008, the Daily Mail covered what is known as the ‘GM Genocide’, which is responsible for taking the lives of over 17,683 Indian farmers in 2009 alone. After finding that their harvests were failing and they started to enter economic turmoil, the farmers began ending their own lives — oftentimes drinking the very same insecticide that Monsanto provided them with.

As the information continues to surface on Monsanto’s crimes, further lawsuits will begin to take effect. After it was ousted in January that Monsanto was running illegal ‘slave-like’ working rings, more individuals became aware of just how seriously Monsanto seems to disregard their workers — so why would they care for the health of their consumers? In April, another group of farmers sued Monsanto for ‘knowingly poisoning’ workers and causing ‘devastating birth defects’.

Will endless lawsuits from millions of seriously affected individuals be the end of Monsanto?

By Anthony Gucciardi, Natural Society

06 June 12

 

aunching a lawsuit against the very company that is responsible for a farmer suicide every 30 minutes, 5 million farmers are now suing Monsanto for as much as 6.2 billion euros (around 7.7 billion US dollars). The reason? As with many other cases, such as the ones that led certain farming regions to be known as the ‘suicide belt’, Monsanto has been reportedly taxing the farmers to financial shambles with ridiculous royalty charges. The farmers state that Monsanto has been unfairly gathering exorbitant profits each year on a global scale from “renewal” seed harvests, which are crops planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest.

The practice of using renewal seeds dates back to ancient times, but Monsanto seeks to collect massive royalties and put an end to the practice. Why? Because Monsanto owns the very patent to the genetically modified seed, and is charging the farmers not only for the original crops, but the later harvests as well. Eventually, the royalties compound and many farmers begin to struggle with even keeping their farm afloat. It is for this reason that India slammed Monsanto with groundbreaking ‘biopiracy’ charges in an effort to stop Monsanto from ‘patenting life’.

Jane Berwanger, a lawyer for the farmers who went on record regarding the case, told the Associted Press:

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production.”

The findings echo what thousands of farmers have experienced in particularly poor nations, where many of the farmers are unable to stand up to Monsanto. Back in 2008, the Daily Mail covered what is known as the ‘GM Genocide’, which is responsible for taking the lives of over 17,683 Indian farmers in 2009 alone. After finding that their harvests were failing and they started to enter economic turmoil, the farmers began ending their own lives — oftentimes drinking the very same insecticide that Monsanto provided them with.

As the information continues to surface on Monsanto’s crimes, further lawsuits will begin to take effect. After it was ousted in January that Monsanto was running illegal ‘slave-like’ working rings, more individuals became aware of just how seriously Monsanto seems to disregard their workers — so why would they care for the health of their consumers? In April, another group of farmers sued Monsanto for ‘knowingly poisoning’ workers and causing ‘devastating birth defects’.

Will endless lawsuits from millions of seriously affected individuals be the end of Monsanto?

A bitter Harvest for Farmers in India BT cotton and Monsanto


A woman picking cotton in a field near Nagarju...

A woman picking cotton in a field near Nagarjuna Sagar, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bt Cotton, a bitter harvest for farmers
Kavitha Kuruganti
It is clear that the mounting evidence that is coming into the public domain, including the internal advisory from the agriculture ministry linking farm distress and suicides with Bt cotton, is causing panic among GM promoters and their lobbies in the country as their false hype and failed promises lie exposed. The biotechnology industry constantly claims that Bt cotton is responsible for the impressive yield growth in cotton that the country witnessed for a few years in the recent past.
Just two common-sense questions are asked to bust the myth: how can Bt technology increase yields when the pest incidence itself, across crops and not just cotton, has been low over the past decade? Two, how does one explain cotton yield increases in India that have happened at an impressive rate when the same is not present in any other country that has adopted Bt cotton? Even a lay person can point out that the reasons lie not in Bt cotton, but on good old factors like large-scale shift to hybrid seed sources (it is only in India that Bt cotton comes in hybrid seed form and not varieties). In the past decade, the area under cotton hybrids rose to 85.5 per cent of our cotton area from being around 40 per cent in 2000. Uptil 2005, 100 per cent of cotton area in the north zone was under varieties; now, 95 per cent of cotton cultivated in Punjab and Haryana is with hybrid seed. Similarly, there has been a significant shift to irrigated cotton cultivation. Sixty-five per cent of Gujarat’s cotton is irrigated today while it was only 39.5 per cent in 2000, contributing 84 per cent of the state’s cotton production, even as Gujarat is the largest cotton producer in the country. The state’s average productivity figures complete the story: in irrigated conditions, it is 689 kg per hectare of lint whereas in unirrigated conditions, it is a mere 247 kg per hectare.
What’s more, the top cotton scientists in the country have this to say: “The use of irrigation facilities, bringing new lands under Bt cotton, low pest activity, well-distributed rainfall, the overwhelming shift towards hybrid cotton and introduction of pesticides with novel modes of action are important factors that helped cotton productivity, not just the introduction of the novel Bt gene.”
Analysis of yield also shows that impressive productivity increases in cotton have happened before Bt cotton became prevalent. In the five-year period from 2000-01 to 2004-05, yield increased by 69 per cent. In the Bt cotton period starting from 2005-06, a moderate 17 per cent increase in yield is shown over three years up to 2007-08 (554 kg per hectare compared to 470 kg per hectare). Further, the yields show a downward trend since then.
If we look at the chemical pesticide usage, one more Bt cotton lie gets exposed. Insecticide usage in cotton (value) increased from `597 crore in 2002 to `880 crore in 2010 (data from CICR’s director). Pesticide consumption data in volume across crops from Government of India shows an increase in pesticide use in all the major cotton-growing states (Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka) except Andhra Pradesh. The most damning number to expose the hype around Bt cotton is related to farm suicides in a state like Maharashtra. The annual average number of suicides in the state during 1997-2002 was 2,833 and it was 4,067 during 2003-08 (P Sainath’s information, based on NCRB data). If nothing else, it is clear that Bt cotton has not provided any solution to the crisis here, but only seems to have exacerbated the distress.
Behind all the hype and lies around Bt cotton, the truth is that it has been a bitter harvest for Indian cotton farmers and a bonanza of prosperity for seed and pesticide companies. The story of Bt cotton once again showcases how sustainable, safer and affordable alternatives, even though they exist, do not receive the attention and investment that they deserve. Ten years after Bt cotton introduction, the government should examine the cotton crisis independently and in a nuanced manner undeterred by aggressive propaganda by seed companies. It should also step in urgently to promote alternatives like non-pesticide management that have a proven track record and direct public sector seed companies to produce high quality conventional cotton seeds to provide genuine choices for cotton farmers.

Kuruganti is national convenor of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture

Monsanto’s Involvement With Agent Orange – 40 Years After the Vietnam Conflict



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

By By Investigative Journalist ~ Theodora Filiss
The US celebrated Memorial Day on Monday, May 28. Originally called Decoration Day, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in their nation’s service.

“If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)

What about the men and women who survived? The Vietnam Veterans who share in the pain and suffering caused by the shameful neglect and harassment by the same people whose lives they fought to protect? One of the most disturbing and damaging legacies of the Vietnam war is Agent Orange. Nearly 40 years later, questions remain.
The US military used Agent Orange from 1961 to 1971 to defoliate dense vegetation in the Vietnamese jungles to reduce the chances of an ambush. Seven major chemical companies were contracted under the Defense Production Act to obtain Agent Orange and other herbicides for use by US and allied troops in Vietnam.
Agent Orange was by far the most widely used of the so-called “Rainbow Herbicides” employed in the Herbicidal Warfare program of the Vietnam War. Dow Chemical and Monsanto were the two largest producers of Agent Orange for the US military. According to Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.
Today Monsanto’s website boasts: “Monsanto is a relatively new company. While we share the name and history of a company that was founded in 1901, the Monsanto of today is focused on agriculture and supporting farmers around the world in their mission to produce more while conserving more. We’re an agricultural company.”
In the past two decades, Monsanto’s “agricultural” GMO monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. Monsanto is now primarily a seed and agricultural products company.
Monsanto is responsible for more than 50 United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund sites – attempts to clean up Monsanto Chemical’s formerly uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

Monsanto’s legacy includes, not only the production of Agent Orange, but DDT, PCBs, and Dioxin. Now massive aerial spraying of Roundup in Colombia is being used by the US and the Colombian government as a counter-insurgency tactic, contaminating food crops and poisoning villagers.

Immediate Release-Monsanto to be criminally prosecuted in B.t. Brinjal Biopiracy Case


 Press Release : Bangalore : 24 May 2012

NBA confirms Monsanto/Mahyco and ors. to be criminally prosecuted in B.t. Brinjal Biopiracy Case

In its first official confirmation, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA, India’s independent regulator on all matters pertaining to biodiversity protection, conservation and use) has stated that “it is proceeding with lodging of complaint against the alleged violators” of Biological Diversity Act on grounds of biopiracy in promoting B.t. Brinjal, India’s first transgenic GMO food. This information was provided to Environment Support Group (ESG) in response to a Right to Information query, and a copy is enclosed. As per Indian law, the filing of the complaint against this serious environmental crime assumes launching of criminal prosecution against the violators. India has already enforced a moratorium on the commercial release of B.t. Brinjal on various scientific, legal, health and community concerns.

 

The undersigned on behalf of Environment Support Group had filed a complaint in February 2010 accusing the world’s largest agritech company Monsanto along with its Indian partner Mahyco, Sathguru Consultants (representing USAID and Cornell University) and various public funded agriculture institutions such as University of Agriculture Sciences (Dharwar, Karnataka), Tamilnadu Agricultural University (Coimbatore) and Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (Uttar Pradesh), of accessing over 16 varieties of brinjal endemic to India in comprehensive violation of the Biological Diversity Act while promoting the commercial release of transgenic B.t. Brinjal through 2005-2010. None of the regulatory agencies, including the NBA and Ministry of Environment and Forests, had bothered to verify compliance with the B D Act throught out this period, and began to take action with much reluctance after ESG filed the complaint.

 

The RTI query was filed seeking all documentation pertaining to the case filed by ESG. Shockingly, and quite questionably, NBA has refused to part with the documentation even to the complainants. Justifying this stand, it has controversially and peculiarly claimed that the documentation cannot be shared with the complainants as “the matter is under advanced stage of lodging of complaint and taking into account the intricacies which involve nuances of biotechnology it is felt that it may not be appropriate to provide the documents/instructions at this juncture”. Evidently, NBA is not even sure if this is the right decision to take, and ESG will file an appeal against this decision soon.

 

As reported in the media, the decision to initiate criminal prosecution against this case of biopiracy was taken by NBA in its meeting held on 28 February 2012, after it was put to a vote. The vote became essential as some members of the NBA were keen on stopping the prosecution. This when when NBA had already resolved in June 2011 to prosecute the violators, a fact repeatedly confirmed in Parliament by the Indian Environment Minister Smt. Jayanti Natarajan. ESG has consistently raised concerns over such dithering by NBA to initiate action against violators of the Biological Diversity Act.

 

Karnataka Chief Minister urged to re-initiate prosecution against Bt. Brinjal violators

 

ESG has also submitted a representation to Karnataka Chief Minister Shri. Sadananda Gowda urging him to immediately revive the decision to criminally prosecute those engaged in biopiracy through the Karnataka Biodiversity Board. It may be recalled that the Board had decided to initiate appropriate legal action against University of Agricultural Sciences (Dharwar), Monsanto and Mahyco for accessing 6 local varieties of brinjal illegally from Karnataka, and converting them into transgenic B.t. Brinjal products, all in violation of the Biological Diversity Act. However, due to pressure, apparently brought by none other than the Principal Secretary of Karnataka’s Environment Department (the chief custodian of Karnataka’s biodiversity), the investigation built over two years was suspended in a controversial decision of the Board in January 2012. ESG initiated a mass petition in February this year against this illegal and retrograde decision to the Chief Minister. Over 500 groups and individuals across India and the world have endorsed this representation which is accessible at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/karnataka-biodiversity-board-must-prosecute/. A copy of the representation now made to the Chief Minister is also enclosed.

 

More details about ESG’s efforts to tackle biopiracy in India, including documents listed above, are accessible at: www.esgindia.org

Leo F. Saldanha

Coordinator/Trustee

and Co-complainant in the aforesaid Biopiracy case with

Bhargavi S. Rao

Coordinator (Education)/Trustee

Environment Support Group

 

About ESG: Environment Support Group is a small group committed researchers,lawyers and activists responding to various issues of environmental, social justice and governance concern. More details about the group may be accessed at: http://esgindia.org/about-us/esg-team.html

 

Donate to ESG: ESG relies on public support and your generous contributions to advance its various public interest initiatives.   Details on how you can contribute can be accessed at: http://esgindia.org/about-us/what-you-can-do.html


— Leo Saldanha Environment Support Group – Trust [Environmental, Social Justice and Governance Initiatives] 1572, 36th Cross, Ring Road Banashankari II Stage Bangalore 560070. INDIA Tel: 91-80-26713559-61 Fax/Voice: 91-80-26713316 Email:leo@esgindia.org Blog: http://leoonpublicmatters.blogspot.com/ Web: www.esgindia.org

Monsanto’s Deep Roots In Washington


seedling.jpg

By Russ Choma

 
It’s planting season, which brings to mind one of the most ubiquitous names in agribusiness: Monsanto

Love it or hate it — and there are plenty of people on either side — the company controls much of the agricultural market, and also sells products for the suburban yard such as the weed-killer Roundup. Roundup is the core of Monsanto’s agricultural breakthrough: The company produces genetically modified seeds that are resistant to the herbicide, making it easy for farmers to spray whole fields of soy or corn and kill only the weeds. Food production made easy.
On the flip side, environmentalists and organic food fans maintain there are too many unknowns and potential dangers involved with genetic modification. Monsanto, which last year had revenues of $11.8 billion, has become their bogeyman.

But such efforts as grassroots petitions and proposed legislation to require at least the labeling of genetically modified food have thus far withered on the vine next to Monsanto’s deeply rooted Washington presence, which has proved resistant to most lines of attack.

According to OpenSecrets.org data, in the first three months of this year, Monsanto spent$1.4 million lobbying Washington — and spent about $6.3 million total last year, more than any other agribusiness firm except the tobacco company Altria.

Monsanto’s interests in Washington are diverse. It lobbied bills ranging from the American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2011, which would extend tax credits for companies doing research, to several bills that would change the way the Department of Homeland Security handles security at chemical facilities — chemicals being a big part of Monsanto’s product portfolio.

And just as important as Monsanto’s legislative agenda for 2011 and 2012 is its regulatory one: the company’s lobbying reports list the departments and agencies it visited to talk to federal bureaucrats and appointees as they wrote rules to implement and enforce Congress’ handiwork. That explains why Monsanto reports having lobbied the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, theEnvironmental Protection Agency and many other executive branch offices.

The FDA currently is the target of a petition signed by more than 1 million people, according to a sponsor known as Just Label It, asking the agency to require that genetically engineered food be labeled as such. The petition, sponsored by a coalition of environmental and food groups, is an attempt by activists to make an end-run around Monsanto’s Washington operation — a necessity because their lobbying dollars pale in comparison to the cash spent by Monsanto and others in the industry. For instance, one of the coalition members, the Environmental Working Group, has spent just $82,000 on lobbying this year — or about 5 percent of Monsanto’s total.

“The power of Monsanto, whether in the halls of Washington, or in farm country, should not be ignored,” said Environmental Working Group spokesman Alex Formuzis. “Monsanto comes armed with some of the deepest pockets and a bench of influential lobbyists, which makes the coalition’s efforts over GMO labeling on behalf of consumers a very tough fight indeed.”

Another upcoming matter of great interest to Monsanto: the new farm bill, an omnibus piece of legislation that sets the nation’s agricultural policy and deals with nearly every aspect of the country’s farming and food industries. The current bill expires in 2013; when it went through Congress, Monsanto filed more lobbying reports on it than any other organization. The process of piecing together a new proposal is already well under way.

The company’s access to members of Congress who are likely to be key in shaping the final legislation may be eased by the contributions of its very active PAC, the Monsanto Citizenship Fund. Already this cycle it has spent $383,000. The biggest recipient of that money so far is Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.) who has received $20,000 from Monsanto’s PAC — $10,000 for his campaign committee and $10,000 for his leadership PAC. Lucas happens to be the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee — no farm-related legislation is passed without his say-so.

Monsanto has hedged its investment with the agriculture committee, though — it also gave $13,500 to Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the top-ranking Democrat on the committee. So far this election cycle, Monsanto’s PAC has given $77,500 to 17 members of the House agriculture committee, or their leadership PACs.

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