Successful protests against Monsanto across India
2.'Monsanto Quit India' day observed across the nation
3.No trials of GM crops in Goa, farmers' group
4.Indian farmers' organisation BKS asks Monsanto to quit India
5.MONSANTO, QUIT INDIA! The Call for a Nationwide DAY OF ACTION
*A projected image on the landmark India Gate monument
*A Vidarbha farmer says NO to GM foods
*Group of Indian farmers visit Gateway of India to create consumer awareness about Monsanto and corporate control
*Monsanto Quit India! poster
TAKE ACTION: Please ask India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop the new GMO bill – it is not transparent and is against the right to safe food:
1.Ryots stage protest against GM crops
The Hindu, August 10 2011
Slogans of "Monsanto, Quit India", rent the air as members of farmer organisations and civil society groups gathered at the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Secunderabad here on Tuesday in protest against Genetically Modified food crops and corporates.
Describing their rally held on Quit India Day today as a "new freedom struggle" to protect the rights of farmers over their seed and natural resources, the activists criticised the open-air field trials and seed production of GM crops in the State.
They later submitted a petition to the Commissioner of Agriculture, addressed to the Deputy Chief Minister and Agriculture Minister, Damodar Rajanarasimha.
Kiran Vissa, coordinator of Raitu Swarajya Vedika and Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) said despite a moratorium announced on Bt Brinjal last year, more than 35 GM food crops were in various stages of development.
Field trials of these crops were being held without establishing their bio-safety.
The protest was part of the nation-wide day of action across 15 states and was in response to the call given by ASHA. Apart from city, events were organised in various districts.
2.'Monsanto Quit India' day observed across the nation
Greenpeace India, press release – August 9 2011
*Citizens say no to GM food and multinational seed corporations promoting them
New Delhi, 9th August 2011: On Quit India day, Greenpeace projected "Monsanto Quit India" on the India Gate highlighting the national opposition to the multinational seed companies like Monsanto. They were also joined by scores of Delhiites observing a candle light vigil and taking a pledge to protect the food safety and sovereignty of the country.
Greenpeace, as part of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture [ASHA], marked 9th August 2011 as the national day of action against corporate control of our food and farming.
According to Kapil Mishra, Agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace India, "There is a visible public opposition against genetically modified crops and companies like Monsanto who are trying to take control of our agriculture and food through such risky technologies. Urban citizens' joining this struggle against GM crops and multinational seed companies is a significant achievement for this movement which has largely been a rural farmers’ issue. This is visible from the fact that besides thousands of farmers across the country, urban citizens from more than 12 cities across the country joined this national day of action.”
GM crops have been in a controversy ever since the introduction of Bt cotton, the only GM crop commercially cultivated in India, owing to their impacts on health, environment and socio-economic fabric of this country. Bt brinjal, the first food crop to have reached the commercialisation stage, was put under an indefinite moratorium last year due to the above concerns being raised by farmers, consumers, sections of the scientific community and civil society groups.
"Genetically modified food is simply not acceptable to us," said Wing commander [Rtd] Jasbir Chadda, the General Secretary of URJA, the confederation of Resident Welfare Associations of Delhi, who joined the candle light vigil. He further stated that, "One fails to understand why our government is on the side of corporates that are promoting these technologies for their own benefit. Delhiites will join any people's movement to ensure safety of our food from dangerous technologies like Genetic modification."
While Bt brinjal is still under moratorium, government has been giving permissions for numerous open air experiments of various GM food crops which is feared to contaminate the regular crops around the trial location and thereby the food supply. Public fears around GM crops have also heightened due to the proposal for a new regulatory authority called Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India [BRAI], the bill which is supposed to be tabled in the current session of Parliament. Earlier leaked versions of the bill in the media in the past, show that it eases down the approval process and even overrides the right to information act to create a centralised single window clearance system for GM crops.
Calling BRAI a ploy by the government to circumvent the current visible opposition to GM crops in the country, the gathered public took a pledge to fight against any such legislation that would subjugate the food and farming of our country to multinational seed companies like Monsanto.
3.No trials of GM crops in Goa, farmers' group tells Digambar Kamat
Times of India, August 10 2011
MARGAO: Goenchea Xetkarancho Ekvott, a farmers' organization, held a demonstration outside the South Goa collectorate in Margao on Tuesday, protesting the proliferation of genetically modified (GM) food products in India.
In a memorandum to chief minister Digambar Kamat, the organization demanded that the state government "immediately stop" all kinds of trials of GM crops on Goan soil, "or in our labs, if any such trials are currently taking place".
The memorandum states, "Increasingly, big corporations are taking control of seeds, which are the most critical inputs in agriculture."
Pointing out "a policy shift" in India from the 1980s, "where private players have been allowed greater space in seed trade", the memorandum states, "A handful of crops are set to expand at the expense of other crops. In Gujarat, cotton has been steadily replacing pulses, oilseeds like groundnuts, and the overall foodgrain area."
"Despite scientific understanding to the contrary, mono-cropping of hybrids is on the increase across different crops, driven by aggressive promotion in the name of yields. Mono-cropping brings its own greater vulnerability to pest and disease attacks, soil health deterioration, higher crop loss possibilities, etc. On top of this, is the issue of control over the seed," the memorandum states.
The organization also demanded that Monsanto, an American company that promotes hybrid food crops in India, be banned in Goa.
4.BKS asks US seed producer Monsanto to quit India
Indian Express, 10 August 2011
The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and several NGOs took out a protest on Tuesday against US genetically-modified seed producer Monsanto.
They took out their protest on the lines of the 'Quit India Movement' launched by Mahatma Gandhi against the British on August 9, 1942, and asked Monsanto to stop its activities in the country and quit India.
NGO representatives told mediapersons at Gujarat Vidyapeeth that if Monsanto gets total control over the country's agriculture, it will begin interfering in the political affairs and virtually become another 'East India Company'.
They said Monsanto had done immense harm to farmers in several American countries who realised very late their mistake by using Monsanto’s seeds. The yield of GM crops went down after a few years and Monsanto did nothing to solve their problems, they said.
They added they were not only against Monsanto but all multinationals.
Kapil Shah from the NGO Jatan said the company had claimed its Bt cotton seeds to be resistant to all insects and pests, but now it has become vulnerable to pest attacks and farmers have to spend a huge amount on pesticides and insecticides.
Besides, GM seeds have been found responsible for increase in occurrence of cancer in the Bhatinda-Sriganganagar belt in north India.
The representatives later submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Narendra Modi asking him to keep Monsanto and other MNCs out of government sponsored projects and stop the sale and distribution of GM seeds.
The memorandum demanded an agriculture policy of promoting local seed producing and distribution companies as that would sustain the country’s sovereignty in food security.
5.MONSANTO, QUIT INDIA!
NO CORPORATE CONTROL OF INDIAN AGRICULTURE!
Call for a Nation-wide DAY OF ACTION on Aug. 9, 2011 (Quit India Day) & KISAN SWARAJ WEEK, Aug. 9TH to Aug. 15TH 2011
Have you heard of this agri-business company called Monsanto? Monsanto is an American company, which has become the world’s largest seed company by employing many devious strategies and tactics. Its annual gross profit is around 22,500 crores of rupees – which is more than the GDP of at least 48 countries! You can imagine the power of this corporation. Monsanto is notorious across the world for a variety of misdeeds and crimes polluting natural resources, killing and maiming humans with its products, bribing officials for approvals, falsifying safety reports to show the most dangerous chemicals like dioxin as safe, colluding with regulators through revolving doors between the company and government, false advertising etc.
What Indian farmers should know is that Monsanto is also a company which has sued and jailed farmers for the "crime" of saving and using seeds that have been purchased by the farmers from the company, to protect its patents. Can you imagine farmers not being allowed the right to save seed from their own crop, when it is farmers who have bred thousands of crop varieties over the centuries?
'No food shall be grown that we don't own' that is Monsanto's reported objective. This diabolical ambition comes from realizing that growing food is obviously a perpetual business as long as humankind exists. Monsanto seeks to own that food through patents and IPRs, using hybrids and Genetically Modified seeds, to prevent competition and force farmers return to the company perpetually for seeds. Even on its most friendly turf USA, Monsanto is now facing an anti-trust investigation.
Monsanto's Misdeeds and Growing Threat in India
A few indications about the dangers of Monsanto and the extent of its control:
”¢ Mahyco-Monsanto used its Bt cotton seed monopoly to set exorbitant prices. The A.P. government had to use the MRTP Commission, Essential Commodities Act and then a special Act to finally push its price from Rs.1800 per packet to Rs.750.
”¢ Monsanto actually sued A.P. and Gujarat state governments that they have no right to control seed prices with Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi as its lawyer! How can individual farmers protect themselves from its legal machine?
”¢ Monsanto entered into licensing agreements with most seed companies so that out of 225 lakh acres of GM cotton, 210 lakh acres is planted with its Bollgaard. During 2002-2006, Monsanto earned Rs.1600 crores just in the form of royalties.
”¢ Monsanto is on the Board of US-India Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, under which bio-safety regime for GM crops was sought to be weakened; repeating its US strategy where its lawyers practically wrote the policies on GM seeds and patents.
”¢ Monsanto entered into hushed-up agreements with several states (Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, J&K) under which the states spend hundreds of crores of public funds every year to purchase Hybrid Maize seeds from Monsanto and distributing them free of cost to farmers, creating a ready market.
”¢ Monsanto is pushing the sales of its herbicide glyphosate which is known to cause reproductive problems. Approval for its herbicide-tolerant GM crops would skyrocket the use of this hazardous chemical in our fields.
”¢ Recently, gross violations were exposed in its GM maize field trials in Karnataka.
Oppose Corporate Control of our Food & Agriculture
We have all seen corruption and crony capitalism being exposed in various sectors from telecom to Commonwealth games. Similar scams are being unearthed in the way agriculture and food regulations are being manipulated from the hushed-up PPP contracts with Monsanto to the formation of “expert panels” on GM crop approval with scientists who are being funded by industry projects. In the Seeds Bill, despite strong demands from farmer unions & state governments, and recommendations from Parliamentary Standing Committee, the Union Agri. Minister refused to include control of seed prices or royalties clearly obeying the seed industry.
Indian agriculture is seen as a prime multi-billion dollar market by multinational and national agri-business corporations. It is outrageous but not surprising that MNCs are included as Board members in the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture between the Indian and US governments. Those MNCs are Monsanto, Archer-Daniels Midland and Walmart covering the whole chain from seed to food production and processing to marketing, reflecting the corporate strategy of controlling the entire value chain.
We don’t need to guess where this drive towards corporatization will take us we only need to look at American agriculture. Small and medium farmers in the US were pushed out decades ago and only 1% of the people in the US are engaged in agriculture. The objective shifted from supporting the interests of farming households to the “Food Industry”. The company lawyers became policy-makers and passed laws prohibiting farmers from saving seeds, and citizens from criticizing the food industry. Big supermarket chains purchase only from large factory farms of thousands of acres; even a 50-acre farmer cannot sell his produce to the supermarket.
“Learning” from the “American model”, the Indian policymakers are already talking about reducing the farming population in India from 60% to 10%. Where will the rest go? What will happen to our rural and urban economies? Meanwhile, large tracts of land are being amassed by a few companies. It is not just the farmers who should worry; as consumers, our access to safe, diverse, nutritious food is at risk.
JOIN THE STRUGGLE NOW!
If we as a nation want to protect our food sovereignty, if we want to retain control on what we grow and what we eat, this is the time for us to act decisively. Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) is calling all like-minded organizations, alliances and individuals to come together in these joint actions:
”¢ Nation-wide Day of Action on Aug. 9th with the slogan “Monsanto Quit India!”
”¢ Kisan Swaraj Week (Aug 9th-15th) demanding secure livelihoods & sustainable agriculture for the farming community, and opposing corporate domination
COME, LET'S JOIN HANDS!
PUT INFORMATION ON YOUR EVENT/CONTACT HERE
For more resources: Visit http://www.kisanswaraj.in
Nation-wide campaign contacts:
Put out in Public Interest by Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (www.kisanswaraj.in)