1.Transfer of officer probing bio-piracy case raises eyebrows
2.Acclaimed film on farmer suicides shown in Vidarbha
3.Biodiversity meeting ignored interests of farmers: expert

NOTE: Although the first article only makes reference to Mahyco, the biopiracy case in question is also being pursued against Monsanto. And in fact, Monsanto owns a sizeable chunk of Mahyco, as well as having a separate joint venture with Mayhco (Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Limited) to handle its Bt seed business.

The award winning film "Bitter Seeds" (item 2) can currently be seen online at:
1.Transfer of officer probing bio-piracy case raises eyebrows
Subhash Chandra N S
Deccan Herald, November 20 2012

Bangalore - The State government has kicked up a row by transferring the deputy conservator of forests (DCF) probing the controversy of bio-piracy, involving Mahyco and University of Agriculture Sciences, Dharwad.

Another officer has refused to be a complainant, thus violating the Biodiversity norms. Y Chakrapani, a second complainant and the investigating officer, has been transferred to Raichur as DCF (territorial) on November 5.

The transfer comes just a month after the High Court opined that protests should be staged in front of the US Consulate against bio-piracy.

High Court Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen, on October 16, during the hearing of a petition by Environment Support Group (ESG) seeking action against bio-piracy, had said, "Dharnas [Fasts conducted at the door of an offender as a means of obtaining compliance with a demand for justice] must be organised against the United States of America for its continued intransigence in complying with global biodiversity norms. This might perhaps be the best solution to the problems of global biodiversity conservation."

Sources in the Karnataka Biodiversity Board (KBB) blamed Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Avani Kumar Varma and the government for the mess.

The sources said that the investigation had been hit badly as Chakrapani was well versed with the subject. There was severe pressure from the chief minister's office to relieve him from the post, they said.

K S Sugura, member secretary to KBB, had written to the Forest department and the government, saying Chakrapani could not be relieved, as it amounted to violation of Section 56 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. But, the letter failed to make any impact, an official said.

The official said that according to Section 56 of the Act, any person who contravenes any direction or order made by the Central government, the State government, the National or the State Biodiversity Board shall be punished with a fine upto Rs one lakh.

In case of a second offence, the fine may extend upto Rs two lakh and the same may be extended by Rs two lakh everyday, if the default continues.

Meanwhile, Halagatti, DCF Dharwad, who was supposed to be an investigating officer along with Chakrapani, is now refusing to be the second complainant. As per the norms, both the officers are supposed to be co-complainants, along with the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA).

When contacted, PCCF Varma refuted the allegations, saying that the transfer was done by the government and not the Forest department. He said the department would extend full co-operation to the probe.


In August 2012, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, released its report on 'Cultivation of Genetically Modified Food Crops – Prospects and Effects'.

A section of the report dealt with the allegations that in promoting Bt Brinjal, Monsanto, Mahyco and a host of public universities in Karnataka and elsewhere had committed serious acts of bio-piracy by accessing 16 local varieties of brinjal endemic to India in blatant and criminal violation of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

ESG [Environment Support Group] had first raised this issue in the Bangalore public consultations on Bt Brinjal in February 2010.

Based on these consultations, then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh issued a moratorium on the environmental and commercial release of [the Bt brinjal] GMO, but failed to take note of the bio-piracy allegation.

ESG then filed a formal complaint before the statutory authorities. 
2.Acclaimed film on farmer suicides shown in Vidarbha
Press Trust of India, November 16 2012

Nagpur - "Bitter Seeds", a documentary film produced by US-based filmmaker Micha Peled on the agrarian crisis of cotton growers and their plight, is being shown in Vidarbha region.

"Every 30 minutes, a farmer in the country kills himself in despair because he no longer can provide for his family. The documentary film takes the viewers to a village at the centre of suicide crisis region in Vidarbha to explore what's behind the shocking statistics," Micha told reporters here on Friday.

The film has won 18 international awards, aired on over 30 television channels and screened in more than 100 film festivals.

"Bitter Seeds" raises critical questions about the human cost of genetically modified agriculture. It is the third film in Micha's trilogy, the filmmaker said.

After airing on television in August, a group from Goa will be screening the documentary film at 14 places in Yavatmal district.

The screening will be held between November 16 and 21, Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti President, Kishore Tiwari, said.

Residents from these localities where the film was shot will be able to watch it in their respective villages, Tiwari added. 
3.Biodiversity meet ignored interests of farmers: expert
Staff Reporter
The Hindu, November 19 2012

Agriculture scientist G.V. Ramanjaneyulu has criticised that the recent international biodiversity conference in Hyderabad focussed only on how business could be done with bio-resources instead of suggesting measures to protect biodiversity.

The deliberations completely ignored farmers and their interests and also their role in the protection of biodiversity. The conference deliberately sidelined the need to protect biodiversity, he said while delivering a lecture on 'Farmer in Biodiversity' organised by the Jampala Chandrasekhara Prasad Trust in memory of the late student leader, here on Saturday night.

State role

He said the government should have a major role in protecting biodiversity, environment and eco-balance for which it should involve the farming community. On the contrary, it was encouraging farmers to use dangerous pesticides and chemical fertilizers, he added.

In pesticides only one per cent was useful to kill pests and the rest would mix in soil and air polluting the environs. So also, in fertilizers only 45 per cent was useful to protect plants and the remaining 55 per cent would mix in soil and water. Dr. Ramanjaneyulu said pests were gaining resistance and the farmer was getting caught in a vicious circle by investing more money. Excessive use of fertilizer and pesticide make the food grains poisonous with their residues remaining in them. Pesticide residues were creating fat in human bodies, he said.

GM propaganda

In this backdrop, governments and corporates were resorting to propaganda on the necessity of GM crops for food security, but behind this lay business interests rather than human interests, he said cautioning that, "Our food habits are getting spoilt with such a false campaign."

Listing out the ill-effects of fertilizers and pesticides, he said the Green Revolution in Punjab destroyed biodiversity and today one in every third family in that State was suffering from cancer. He said for the protection of biodiversity farmers should have freedom in cultivation.