Biotech GM seeds buccaneers destroy India's Rice
fwd to me by my sometime mentor now GM-PR agent Vivian Moses, who
tells me I'm here listed among fruitcakes.
Shrivastava's hyperbole about myself is news to me, and
embarrassing. But the gist of this story is important.
Biotech GM seeds buccaneers destroy India's Rice Economy
December 21, 2006
The India Government is firmly under control of buccaneers of
bio-technology and spurious Life Sciences multinational corporations.
Despite rules to the contrary, GM experiments have been going on
across India with the complicity of the Indian Government. Most
importantly, the attack is now on rice.
India is a centre of origin for rice and the centre for diversity
for rice genes, in the same way as Mexico is for corn. It is therefore
much more than just a rice country. This makes the Government's
cavalier attitude to Indiaís Non-GM status for rice, one of
irresponsible criminal negligence. In embarking on high-risk
field trials of GM-rice, it exposes our rice farmers to contamination
by GM including transgenic contamination of wild species and the rice
seed stock. If we Indians lose control over local rice seeds we
lose our right to food and nutrition. We lose our
Has the Government exercised due diligence?
In granting permission for field trials, the Government of India has
failed to protect the peopleís interest and health. The
Supreme Court of India [SC] in its interim order in matter of a Public
Interest Litigation [PIL] number 260 of 2006 [1st May 2006] had
directed that an inter-ministerial "Genetic Engineering Approvals
Committee" [GEAC] be formed and all applications for field trails
be routed via GEAC. This does not imply that the SC had given a
carte blanche to GEAC to approve field trials; rather, the directive
was to prevent one department [the Department of Biotechnology] from
taking unilateral decisions and bring in some discipline.
However, in the 67th Meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval
Committeeí held on 22.05.2006, the GEAC brushed aside all such
concerns and in utter defiance of the spirit of the Order it has
rubberstamped an astonishing 91 GM products for multi-location trials
91 approvals in one meeting.
Which forced the Supreme Court to pass another order on 20th
[Whilst it is ] not inclined to direct stoppage of field trials.
At the same time, [the Supreme Court] deem it appropriate to direct
the GEAC to withhold the approvals till further directions are issued
by this Court on hearing all concerned. [Record of Proceedings, Item
No 9, Writ Petition No 260 of 2006; the Supreme Court of India]
Not only that approvals have been rushed through in anticipation of a
possible full spectrum ban on field trial in India, activists have
been stone walled from obtaining information on locations and type of
seeds being tested. It is only after petition under Right to
Information [RTI Act of 2005] were filed that some information has
been revealed by the Department of Biotechnology.
Thus, the big seed companies [in this instance Monsanto, operating
through its Indian Joint Venture partners Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds
Corporation or Mahyco] have committed crimes against humanity with
full connivance of officials of the Department of Biotechnology and
members of GEAC [which means several Ministries are also involved,
chiefly, the Minister of Agriculture & the Ministry of Environment
This is a crime against the people of India and against India's
farmers because these approvals have been given knowing the fact that
in the last two years, 70% of the farmer suicides in the Maharashtra
belt are Bt cotton farmers suicides.
"During the latter part of April, the Centre for Sustainable
Agriculture (CSA) uncovered deadly toxic reaction in sheep and goats
in Warangal in AP from grazing in Bt cotton fields in Feb/March, post
the last cotton harvest of 2005-2006. Local shepherds estimate
the total mortality for the area to be around 10,000 dead sheep and
goats." [Page 4, Application for interim order, in the SC of
India, No 260 of 2006]
We do not care how many acres have been planted. We do know that
six varieties of Bt rice are under open field trials. These are: MRP
5305 Bt., MRP5319Bt., MRP 5401 Bt., MRP5445Bt., MRP 5629 Bt., and
Whilst Bt rice trials have been approved in 10 out of India's 25
states, we suspect that the total area where GE field trails have been
slipped in, without knowledge of the poor farmers who rented their
lands, could be significant.
This is not a new war
The United States of America declared a war on Indian rice [and
food security] way back in the early 1960s when India's No 1 scientist
mole, Dr M.S. Swaminathan, stole the gene bank of rice, evolved over
decades by Dr Riccharia, and passed it over to the Americans.
How many genetic varieties have been stolen? No one really
Swaminathan was the main dramatis personae in what is known as
"the great[est] gene robbery" in the history of mankind.
[See, "The Great Gene Robbery", by Dr Claude Alvarez, The
Illustrated Weekly of India, March 23-April 5, 1986]
India had 120,000 varieties of rice seeds; today, no more than 50 are
available. This is United Statesí war on genetic diversity, ably
supported by scientist-criminals like MS Swaminathan. And the worst
crime of the Indian Government is to have these criminals head
Agriculture Policy of India. At age 75, Swaminathan lives to
lord it over many Expert Committees, including crucial ones in the
Ministry of Agriculture. The deadly tentacles of this
hydra-headed monster extend in many ministries of the Government of
India. From early 1960s, Swaminathan has been the front of the
Rockefellers, implementing their agenda with full support of the US
Government. [See: www.GMWatch.org]
Emboldened by a deliberately errant Indian Regulator, which is
malfunctioning with intent and deliberation to support a pro GE
agenda, and the open support of USAID, the GM seeds producers are
furthering the agenda of destroying India's food sovereignty and food
security knowing fully well that GE seeds do not enhance productivity
[yield], which is what Indian farmers need.
"For example, the USAID-backed initiative, Agricultural
Biotechnology Support Project-II (ABSP-II), is based and directed from
Cornell. ABSP partners have included Asgrow, Monsanto, and Pioneer
Hi-Bred. Promoting GM is, of course, an official part of USAID's remit
- one of its roles being to "integrate GM into local food
The Trojan horse of GE seeds in India
That war has been taken to new heights by Monsanto. Few know that
Mahyco is the Trojan horse through which Monsanto is slipping in GM
seeds. Monsanto's website says:
* Joint venture
with Mahyco 50:50 for marketing of biotech cotton seeds and 74:26 for
marketing of seeds. Both these joint ventures are by parent company
and not MIL.
* Parent Company is 51
per cent investment in Joint Venture with EID Parry (Hybrid rice seed
* R & D
centre of Bangalore also belongs to parent Company.
In effect, Mahyco is the front.
As early as 1999, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and
Ecology (RFSTE) challenged the permission given by the Government to
M/s Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited [Mahyco, Monsantoís JV
partners] in the Supreme Court, vide their Writ Petition No. 71 of
1999 for carrying out multi-centric trials (these are limited field
trials) at 15 locations in 7 states without framing proper guidelines,
rules and systems for evaluating the bio-safety and ecological and
environmental impacts of genetically modified organisms used in crops.
Thus, it is on record that right from the earliest MLTs for Bt cotton,
"improper and illegal procedures" were followed by the
GEAC/DBT and that contamination from these limited field trials
(MLTs), were a major source of concern. These observations by
RFSTE are part of the record of the Rejoinder Affidavit.
The Indian taxpayer is now paying Monsanto's debt. The
people of India will continue to pay Monsanto with their lives and
The repercussions of the Regulatorís releases of GM foods in India
will be global.
World's best known scientists have sent their
What is most heartening is that leading scientists from all over the
world have joined hands with Indian activists with their expertise and
experience. Many have filed exclusive submissions to the Supreme
"Dr. Arpad Pusztai, the world renowned toxicologist and leading
expert in protein lectins in a telephone conversation with Petitioner
No 1 said that in all these years of scrutinising industry studies,
(and most of these have passed through his hands), he has never seen
anything quite like this. According to David Schubert, the
safety testing data on the Ministry (GEAC) website is "very
poorly done and in the absence of REAL DATA it is impossible to make
any assessment of the validity of their claims". Dr. Doug
Gurian Sherman, Senior Scientist at the Centre For Food Safety
concurs. Dr. Robert Mann formerly senior lecturer in
biochemistry at the University of Auckland and Advisor to successive
Ministry's of Health in NZ, says, "I regard the 'Bt'-brinjal
field-trial proposal as one of the most ill-conceived I have
encountered in my three decades of critical appraisal of GM. The
risks and hazards, while not exactly known or indeed precisely
foreseeable, appear to be so grave that the proposed field-trials
should be enjoined pending a thorough assessment such as has yet to be
performed." Dr. Mae Wan Ho (of the Independent Science
Panel) and Prof. Joe Cummins, Prof. Emeritus of Genetics, University
of Western Ontario, Canada, say: "In India, brinjal would be
comparable to potato or tomato in the American diet. GM Egg
Plant Contains Bt Toxin Linked to Hundreds of Allergy Cases and
Thousands of Sheep Deaths. It would be unthinkable and
irresponsible to approve the genetically modified eggplant.
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins find neither published studies
nor experimental details on safety tests in the application for field
releases of the Bt brinjal and raise serious questions. Instead
of approving more GM crops, regulatory authorities in India should
start a comprehensive enquiry into the health impacts of Bt cotton and
impose a ban on further releases of all GM crops".
So, the buccaneers have pushed GM rice and GM veggies: staple food of
Indians. They have stealthily planted GM seeds in plots right across
India. It is a well known fact that GM seeds can easily contaminate
non-GM seeds through cross pollination. GM contamination could be
widespread because there is no way to prevent contamination across
Indiaís farming areas.
How you can help India
In 2005-06, Indian rice exporters exported 5 million tonnes of rice
valued at US$1.53 billion to 102 countries worldwide. Their main
markets are Europe, North America, West Asia, and Australia. In each
of these countries, the respective Governments must
Warn The Indian Government that Consumers Do Not Want GM
We suggest: Start Testing
Next, if you are a consumer, petition your local representatives to
send a strong letter to the Government of India to install
internationally acceptable test protocols to check for contamination,
at all ports and in all states and that pending such decision no
primary foods be allowed in importing countries. Most
importantly, ask your representative to tell the Government of India
Stop all GM field trials because it will destroy the global
None of us wants to hurt Indian exporters and farmers; many poor
farmers depend on steady market provided by the exporters. Every
farmerís association has come out against GM seeds. The All
India Rice Exporters Association has expressed its readiness to work
with all persons who refuse to fall in line with a pro-GM agenda
because of the demonstrated risks of GE technology. But we are
also sure that when their market shrinks, these exporters and their
supplier farmers will hang every politician and member of the Indian
Parliament from the nearest tree.
The impact would be swift and decisive. There is no other
option. Pass the news far and wide.
Undertaking required from the Indian Government
The Government of India must give an undertaking to the Indian rice
consumers worldwide that
[a] it was dishonest in that it did not exercise due diligence and
checks at ports, including bio safety assessment based on the
[b] it has unconditionally banned all GM rice and GM food field
[c] it shall make public the names of producers of GM seeds, ownership
[including joint ventures in India], location, contact number, names
of principal officers, and nationality of the companies, it has
granted permission for trials and dates when permissions for trials
[d] it publicly acknowledges the harms caused to humans and
environment if GM crops are planted and/or consumed based upon
independent published studies, and
[e] It is prepared to compensate for health damages caused to
consumers because of consumption of GM rice.
If possible bring in lawsuits against the Government of India for
allowing shipment, if rice exports test positive for GM.
Bt (GM) rice has not been approved for human consumption and Bt foods
including rice are a proven health hazard.
All GM foods are weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, bring-in
lawsuits against the Government of the USA, including the US-FDA and
USDA, like the instance cited below:
The most recent incident of contamination has occurred with American
Long Grain Rice. The announcement in August 2006 that an unapproved
variety of genetically modified (GM) rice, i.e. not approved for human
consumption, had been found at low levels in US long-grain rice
shocked the global food industry. Bayer Crop Science's GM
LL601RICE had last been grown in field trials in 2001 and was not
intended for commercialization. Liberty Link 601 [LL601 rice] has been
modified to be tolerant to Bayer's herbicide, Liberty (glufosinate),
so farmers can use the weed-killer without harming the crop.
The global marketing of unapproved GM rice has led to product
withdrawals in Switzerland, Germany, France, Sweden, Ireland and the
UK. Exports to Europe require certification that foods are
GM-contaminant free. Japan has zero tolerance for GM crops, has halted
rice imports from the USA, and is carrying out extensive tests to
detect LL601contamination level and extent.
It is obvious that there has been a cover-up. Most corporate
crimes are committed with full knowledge of top management. Bayer knew
about the contamination before it was discovered. So does
Monsanto, despite its claims on its website that it operates through
an Indian parent company.
Most of all, the Indian Regulator must carry the highest
responsibility and stands heavily indicted. .
The US Regulators are implicated for concealing the contamination
from Bayer's LL601 variety. Bayer is being sued by growers in
Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas, who
have filed lawsuits amounting to hundreds of millions of dollar for
damaging farmersí sales through loss of markets. The
contamination had gone undetected because no testing was done prior to
The US Government is not only stealing genetic assets, it is
deliberately promoting near lethal food worldwide. Genetic Engineering
if not stopped will lead to the irreversible contamination of the
world's food at the molecular level and in perpetuity. This
demonstrates the seriousness of the crisis we face.
We need a million lawsuits worldwide
We need every lawyer, who is not part of the inner coterie of the
murderous neo-cons in Washington and London and their minions
elsewhere, to work on a standard draft in accordance with their
respective national Environment Protection Laws, Food Laws, and
restrictive provisions for GE experimentations, and file one million
lawsuits worldwide against Monsanto, Bayer, and others who have tested
and tried in open fields any genetically modified crops that is food
for us. Lawyers also need food, healthy food!
Whilst a lawsuit claiming damage to health may warrant proof of
evidence of "damage" which will be difficult to obtain,
therefore, appellants should seek damages for contamination from
genetic engineering that is known to cause [a] damages to living
cells, [b] damages the environment, and [c] damages biological
If you are a consumer, talk to lawyers in groups and file class
action suits. There is enough evidence from a number of animal
studies that genetically modified foods can make you infertile, retard
your children's growth, cause unknown and untreatable diseases,
destroy your life and terminate your life prematurely.
These murderers can beat us up, bribe the Indian Police to lock our
farmers up, and file utterly baseless cases just to harass us.
But none of these companies can fight a global opposition.
Your life and health is in your hands. Help us fight this global
Arun Shrivastava is a management consultant. He can be
contacted at [log in to unmask]
1. The above url documents what is going on in India and how the big
bio-tech firms are misusing their financial and political clout to
harass and physically intimidate farmers.
2. All documents quoted in this article are in the public domain or
have been placed as evidence in a writ petition filed in the Supreme
Court of India, No 206 of 2006. The case is still being heard.
Detailed references and key documents can be sent to any person
3. We are requesting as many editors/web site administrators to place
an online petition. We need 100,000 signatures from all over the
world before 14th December.