17th June 2014
India’s Sovereignty, Security and Freedom at risk
Is the IB being used by foreign corporations to take over India’s vital seed sector?
The IB report has a special section on GMOs (genetically modified/engineered organisms). It clearly supports the introduction of GM crops into Indian agriculture. The IB report makes specific mention of the Supreme Court cases which have been filed. It curiously also accuses civil society organisations and individuals of influencing 3 Committees that were officially mandated to assess GMOs. The IB report objects to these formal government reports, the Moratorium Orders of Shri Jairam Ramesh, the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report and the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee Report (TEC) because they find that on current evidence, GM crops have little to contribute to Indian agriculture, safe food and food security. These findings did not accord with the view of the PMO, when headed by the erstwhile Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. This report was initiated under the UPA Government. IB objects to protection of Indian seed and food sovereignty?: In 1998, when Monsanto introduced Bt cotton illegally, without the statutory approvals from the GEAC, we had to file a case in the SC to defend the laws of the land, our Constitution, our Seed Sovereignty and Food Sovereignty. When open field trials were being conducted without appropriate and independent Biosafety assessments, and expertise in these matters, the current cases in the Supreme Court were initiated in 2004 and 2005 to uphold the law: protect the environment and safety of our seeds and food from irreversible genetic contamination, protect smallholder farming in India, and the health safety of 1 billion citizens. The country faces a major threat from the multinational Seed/chemical industry, seeking control over our seeds, our agriculture and our food. This is the focus and agenda of thousands of organizations and individuals resisting GMOs in India. IB favours the foreign hand in the making of India’s Bt Brinjal: The IB report quotes a Dr Ronald Herring of Cornell University who promotes GMOs and the monopoly of Monsanto. It is ironic that the IB report relies on the evidence of Dr Herring with his antecedents in Cornell University, a hub of blind GMO promotion. It is the direct foreign hand along with USAID and Monsanto funding, behind the ‘making of India’s Bt brinjal’. Here is a real foreign hand that informs the IB report. Has the IB report been written then with foreign influence, for the benefit and profits of foreign corporations? The strategy of the global GMO seed industry with their patents & IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) is to bend regulation and influence governments and regulators to approve GMOs, by-passing scientific, transparent and independent safety testing. Outrageous insult to our Parliamentarians and Contempt of Court by the IB: The PSC recommended a high-level enquiry into how Bt brinjal was approved by the Regulators for commercial release. The self-assessed safety-dossier by Mahyco-Monsanto was a cover-up as evidenced in independent assessments of the raw data by several leading international scientists. It staggers belief that the IB find it possible to hand out an outrageous insult to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, by suggesting that they have in effect been led ‘by the nose’ by activists and civil society groups and have no competence to address their official mandate on the subject. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the IB report has been influenced by those who have most to gain by undermining our seed and food sovereignty ie. the foreign corporations. The IB report has also attacked the govt decision made under our Biosafety laws to impose a moratorium on Bt Brinjal. It is thus attacking our Biosafety. This will only suit foreign interests. The IB is guilty of contempt of court since it attacks the Technical Expert Committee set up by the Supreme Court to look into the issues of GMOs and Biosafety. The case is still being heard. The IB fails to refer to the important other official report, the ‘Sopory Committee Report’. This report of 2012 commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture itself, is a stinging commentary on what is wrong with GMO regulation in India. Our regulatory institutions and the MoA have been indicted in this report for lies, fraud and lacking GMO expertise, and the truth with regard to contamination was revealed in this report. NGOs saving Indian seed and food sovereignty: The biggest foreign hand by STEALTH and official COVER-UP will be in GMOs/GM crops if introduced into Indian agriculture. All that stands between a corporate takeover of our seeds and agriculture is the committed and exemplary work by the not-for-profit sector that has stopped the government from introducing them for over 15 years. In conspiring with deeply conflicted institutions of regulation, governance and agriculture, of which there is incontrovertible proof, to introduce GM crops into India, the IB will in fact aid the hand-over of the ownership of our seeds and foods to Multi-National Corporations. This will represent the largest take-over of any nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands and this time it will be no bogey foreign hand. This will be for real. China is on record as saying that she will not allow her armed forces to eat any GM food. This not-to-be-imagined future will plunge India into the biggest breech of internal security; of a biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover. The fallout of this mere 20 year-old laboratory technology,is that it is irreversible. This is what must give us sober ‘food for thought’ uncontaminated by GMOs, something the IB seems to be supremely oblivious of. GM crops have already demonstrated no-yield gain, no ability to engineer for traits of drought, saline resistance etc and have some serious bio-safety issues which no regulator wishes to examine. Indian Cotton in Foreign Hands, Indian farmers’ hard earned money expatriated to foreign lands: India’s Bt cotton is an outstanding example of the above scenario. It was introduced into India’s hybrids, not varieties so our farmers would be forced to buy seeds each year. This ‘value capture’ for Monsanto which was contrived and approved by our own government mortgaging the public interest has ensured that in a short 10 years, 95% of cotton seeds in the form of Bt cotton are owned by Monsanto. The damage to India’s organic cotton market and status is significant. India is the largest organic cotton producer/exporter in the world. It is Monsanto now that decides where cotton should be planted and when by our farmers, a role that the MoA has absconded or been eliminated from. The Royalties accruing to Monsanto that have been expatriated (excluding other profit mark-ups),are approximately Rs 4800 Crores in 12 years. What would this figure be if GMOs and propriety seeds flooded our farms without Biosafety assessment and regulation? This is the arithmetic the IB should have done, instead of throwing an arbitrary figure of 2-3% loss of growth. The IB is thus conspiring with global corporate interests to hemorrhage India’s agricultural economy. More than 284000 Indian farmers have been pushed to suicide because of a debt trap, lack of government investment in smallholder farming and dependence on non-renewable, propriety seeds and chemicals sold by the corporations. We call for an investigation on the foreign influence in writing the GMO section in the IB report. If India’s intelligence agencies become instruments of global corporations working against the public interest and national interest of India, our national security is under threat. This IB report is deeply anti-national and subversive of constitutional rights of citizens in our country. It does India no credit.
Signed Suman Sahai, Vandana Shiva, Aruna Rodrigues, Kavitha Kuruganti