The BBC's 'Bitter Harvest' series recently exposed how Monsanto makes use of the Hindu epic the Ramayana in its advertisements for Hindu farmers in South India, while using Guru Nanak in its sales pitch to Sikh farmers in the Punjab.

Now, amidst all the controversy over the bitter harvest from its GM cotton, Monsanto has hired Bollywood style king Nana Patekar to try and give a bit of glamour to its products.

Patekar says he is supporting Monsanto's Bt cotton (Bollgard) because of all the suicides involving pesticides among cotton farmers, and because "the government has given clearance to the [GM] technology and it must have considered all angles".

Which is curious when you consider it was the government that gave clearance to the pesticides which are harming farmers. And what is the story that Indian farmers are telling us with regard to Monsanto's GM cotton? According to the extensive research initiated by the Deccan Development Society, "It is a story of terrible loss, deep pain, and cold anger, leading to explosive violence and even death... Hundreds of farmers... have repeatedly told us how [Monsanto's Bt cotton] cultivation had ruined them totally."

It would have been nice if instead of taking the cash of the multinational corporation that has brought us pesticides, dioxin, PCBs, agent orange, patents on life, corruption and GM seeds, Patekar had instead used his star status to endorse an initiative like that at PUNUKULA, which has made farming for small-scale farmers entirely pesticide-free while increasing their incomes.

For more on the BBC's 'Bitter Harvest' series:

1.Nana Patekar brand ambassador for Monsanto
2.Entertainment: Nana Patekar to launch Bollgard

1.Nana Patekar brand ambassador for Monsanto
Economic Times, April 30 2005

AURANGABAD: The increasing rate of suicides, specially by cotton growers, was one of the reasons for endorsing the BT cotton varieties developed by Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB), actor Nana Patekar said here on Saturday.

Patekar, the brand ambassador for MMB, would help the company create awareness about the benefits of using BT cotton varieties like Bollgard.

The actor commenced his association with MMB, the joint venture between leading MNC Monsanto and domestic player Mahyco, by addressing a series in the cotton-growing region of Marathwada, starting from here.

Asked why he chose to endorse the Monsanto brand, in the wake of controversy surrounding the genetically modified BT cotton in the country, the actor said he had given the issue much thought before accepting the offer.

"I hold environmentalist Vandana Shiva, a prominent opponent of GM technology, in high esteem. But the government has given clearance to the technology and it must have considered all angles, including environmental ones, before taking the decision", he said.

Farmers in Maharashtra, who have been using the BT cotton, have saved on pesticide expenses and their yield per acre has gone up substantially, he said.

2.Entertainment: Nana Patekar to launch Bollgard Kisan Vigyan Jyoti
The Hindu, April 28 2005

Mumbai, April. 28 (PTI): Film actor, Nana Patekar, would launch the `Bollguard Kisan Vigyan Jyoti' aimed at spreading awareness about an insect resistant and high-yielding cotton variety among the farmer community of Maharashtra.

Patekar would launch the programme at Aurangabad tomorrow, according to Ranjana Smetacker, spokesperson for Mahyco Monsanto Biotech, promoters of the cotton variety.

The actor would address meetings of farmers in Aurangabad and Jalgoan to spread awareness of the new technology, Smetacker said.

Cotton is grown by four million Indian farmers on close to 25 million acres-the world's largest cotton acreage but ranks lowest in productivity. The biggest impediment to cotton production is the damage caused by insect pests, the most harmful of them being bollworm, Smetacker said

Bollgard insect-protected cotton have provided an easy and effective as well as as a safe method for control of bollworms, thus raising the income of farmers, he said.