2.Move for draft of biotech policy draws flak


In item 2 the executive chairman of the farmers' federation Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS), Dr Krishan Bir Choudhary, emphasises the need for compensation for farmers for crop failure with biotech crops.

It was Monsanto's refusal to stick to an agreed Memorandum of Understanding on this issue and an alleged attempt to fix the figures, that got the company slung out of Andhra Pradesh (item 1).

India's farmers also deserve compensation for all the lies they've been fed as part of the aggressive marketing of GM crops in India.

The new report on that marketing campaign can now be downloaded online:

You can also see photos of the billboard marketing here:

For GM Watch's summary of this important report, see:

For a profile of the pro-GM scientist MS Swaminathan who is featured in item 2, see:

Greenpeace India, 18 Sep 2005

Bangalore, India -- Pied piper Monsanto is using every trick and tune to beguile poor farmers with its Bt serenade. First it decided to play God and tinker irresponsibly with genes. Now this smooth operator is working to ensure that it's mutated creations are thrust down the fields of Indian farmers by hook or crook. Monsanto likes pushing the boundaries of reason. Now it is pushing the boundaries of advertising and marketing.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Committee has been touring the countryside in six Bt cotton states and reports back shocking instances of unethical advertising and trade practices.

Forget retribution, this company is so sure that our pusillanimous state will not react, it now blatantly puts an address to a panwallah's claim of a bumper Bt harvest. Talk about chuna lagana! Kar lo jo karna hai.

So will the Government of India dare?

In Maharastra, [Bollywood star] Nana Patekar endorses the Bollgard brand and extracts a price but in Punjab who needs a star when you have the Chief Minister and all the administrative machinery and the agriculture extension system working for you? For free.

Monsanto is blatant because it got Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh to personally endorse the Bollgard brand. It works like this. Each time Markfed, the Punjab state agriculture marketing machine promotes Bollgard, your tax money foots the bill for the advertising which has Capt. Amrinder Singh as popular mascot. The desperate farmer pays dearly for Bt seeds he shouldn't be buying which his Chief Minister has no business pedalling. The company, of course, keeps the profits. Public investments made for private profit.

The real meaning of public-private partnership finally visits us.

At the beginning of this season, Mr Palanisamy of Salem, Tamil Nadu was approached by a company representative to register for a contest that could take him to Mumbai. That is when the company took a picture of Mr Palanisamy in front of a tractor. Investigations by MEC revealed that he had acquired it on a personal loan and was still paying it off! Palaniswamy says "with the yields that I get from Bt Cotton, I would not be able to buy even two tractor tyres"! This is part of a Monsanto poster series that reveals "TRUE STORIES OF FARMERS WHO HAVE SOWN BT COTTON"!

Three months ago the agriculture minister in Andhra Pradesh called Monsanto a bad corporate citizen and threw it out. The state was singed when the irresponsible corporate had refused to honour the MoU it had signed regarding the performance of its BT cottonseeds. Monsanto had also fudged data when its Bt cotton crop was a spectacular failure. For a moment its true ugly and evil face was revealed.

That alone should have cautioned our elected representatives in other cotton growing states. Instead of framing a MoU to safeguard the interest of the small farmer in the eventuality of a crop failure they are endorsing, abetting and conspiring against their own citizens.

With Pied piper Monsanto you can never tell. Never mind the performance of crop: Heads they win. Tails they win. And Chief Ministers do their bidding.

Read the related Press Release
[see ]

See the Slideshow on Bt aggression

Read the report : Marketing of Bt Cotton in India

The Monitoring and Evaluation Committee [MEC] to monitor Bt Cotton across the country was set up by Adivasi Ekta Sangathan, AKRSP, CEAD, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Grameen Vikas Trust, Greenpeace India, Jan Saahas, Kheti Virasat Mission, Krishnadevaraya Rythu Sankshema Sangam, Krushi, MARI, Navajyothi, Pasumai Tayagam, Prasun, Rashtriya Satyagrah Dal, Sampark, Sarvodaya Youth Organisation, SECURE, VASPS and YUVA.

2.Move for draft of biotech policy draws flak
Financial Express, September 19, 2005

NEW DELHI, SEPT 18: The National Commission on Farmers has joined the race for drafting national biotechnology policy for the country. The move has invited flak from some leading farmers' organisations in the country who said that such a move is “unwarranted and waste of public money.”  

They argued that the country's first transgenic crop, Bt cotton, failed to benefit farmers and rather placed them in heavy losses. They demanded that the Bt cotton growers should be compensated by the seed multinational, Monsanto.

As a first step towards formulation of such a policy, the commission has convened a one-day conference of farmer leaders on September 22. The conference will be presided over by the panel chairman Dr MS Swaminathan.

This would be the fourth attempt to prepare a national policy on biotechnology. In June 2004 the taskforce on agriculture biotechnology had submitted its report to agriculture minister Sharad Pawar. The report recommended formation of an autonomous national biotechnology regulatory authority. The taskforce had also invited the public opinion on the draft of national biotechnology development strategy and finalisation of the draft is pending.

On September 13, the taskforce on recombinant pharma in its report suggested a different model structure for a single-window regulator for all transgenic products.

Speaking to FE, executive chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS) Dr Krishan Bir Choudhary said, "There are already three government reports on biotechnology but none of these stresses the need for compensations to farmers for crop failure. The fourth report which is contemplated to be prepared by NCF should adequately address this issue."

BKS president reiterated "the losses on account of crop failure should be determined at the farm level with the participation of farmers and panchayat leaders. The concerned seed company should be made to pay the compensation directly to farmers to save them from harassment".

Kavitha Kuruganti of the Secunderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture alleged that tobacco streak virus has affected Bt cotton fields in Warrangal district in Andhra Pradesh this year. She said that this virus is unusual on cotton crop and occurs generally groundnut and sunflower.

A prominent farmer leader from Andhra Pradesh, Malla Reddy, also demanded that affected farmers should be compensated in full.