Indian farmers ransack Monsanto facility in southern India (11/9/2003)

"We have served Monsanto a notice to leave India"

*Indian farmers target Monsanto
*Agitated farmers damage IISc building
*Protesters attack Monsanto greenhouse in southern India
Indian farmers target Monsanto
By Habib Beary
BBC correspondent in Bangalore

[Image caption: The attack on the building followed protests over farmers' suicides]

Angry farmers in southern India have stormed a building that formerly housed the global biotech giant, Monsanto.  More than 40 farmers ransacked the corporation's former Bangalore facility on Thursday, after staging noisy demonstrations.

They were protesting after more than 70 farmers committed suicide in the region in the last three months.

Their deaths are being blamed on debt and drought - and on the introduction  of Monsanto's genetically modified crops.

According to eyewitnesses, the farmers went on the rampage in a former Monsanto research centre, located in India's top science facility, the Indian Institute of Science.

They damaged furniture and windows, and shouted slogans demanding Monsanto close down its operations in India.

Monsanto is active in several southern Indian states, where it has angered environmentalists and farmers by spearheading the cultivation of genetically modified cotton.

The police arrested 15 farmers after Thursday's incident.

They said Monsanto had shifted its research facility recently, but the protesters were probably not aware of this.

A leader of the Karnataka State Farmers Association, Professor MD Nanjundaswamy, told the BBC the attack was a warning to Monsanto to leave India.

The farmer's association had also torched several farms in the state where Monsanto's new cotton crop was being trialled.

The environmental group, Greenpeace, has joined protests against Monsanto by calling on the company to withdraw its seeds from the market.

Monsanto says its critics have been misinformed, and its experiments in genetically modified farming have been successful in the US, China and other countries.

Pictures at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3099938.stm
Agitated farmers damage IISc building
News Update as at 17.00 hrs (IST)

BANGALORE: Farmers protesting against multinational seed giant Monsanto and genetically modified crops today pelted stones at a building in the Indian Institute of Science campus here which earlier housed the Research and Development centre of the company.

Shouting slogans against Monsanto and demanding its withdrawal from India, at least twenty farmers attacked the building and damaged the window panes of the building before they were arrested, police said.

The farmers targeted the building believing that Monsanto Research and Development centre was located there, but the company had shifted its centre elsewhere in the city in July, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Parashivamurthy said.

The farmers under the banner of the Karnataka state farmers association have been up in arms against genetically modified crops and been opposing Monsanto on the issue. - PTI
Protesters attack Monsanto greenhouse in southern India
By P.t. Bopanna
Associated Press, updated: 09/11/2003 07:42 AM

BANGALORE, India (AP) -- Police on Thursday arrested 29 rampaging farmers for attacking the U.S.-based Monsanto Corp.'s greenhouse in this southern Indian city for selling genetically modified seeds in the country.

The slogan-shouting farmers pelted stones at the facility on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India's technology hub and capital of southern Karnataka state, police said. The 29 farmers arrested were charged with rioting.

Two workers were injured in the attack, said Ranjana Smetacek, a spokeswoman for Monsanto India.

"We had our research facility at the campus (which was) ransacked today. A month ago, we moved out to a new office, but had left behind two greenhouses to be moved later;” Smetacek told The Associated Press.

"One of the greenhouses, where we grow plants for research, was destroyed. The other one is safe and will be moved to the new office very soon," she said.

"We have lost valuable plants and the result of lot of work by our researchers. Now we will have to redo all that," she said.

"We are seriously concerned by today's attack. As an investor, we want the government to ensure the safety of our facilities and our people," the spokeswoman said.

The protesters, led by M.D. Nanjundaswamy, said the genetically modified seeds were environmentally hazardous and could contaminate the genes of native varieties through cross pollination, impoverishing the farmers.

"We timed the attack to draw the attention of those attending the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun, Mexico," said Nanjundaswamy, president of a non-governmental organization, Karnataka State Farmers Association.

The Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, Monsanto's joint venture in India, has sold more than 230,000 packets of 450-gram BT cotton packets in six Indian states in the planting season June-August.

Monsanto is the only company to be allowed to sell such seeds in India.

The sale of genetically altered cotton is allowed in six of India's 29 states. Sales this season were 216 percent higher than in 2002, the first year of genetically altered crop sales in India.

BT stands for bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium whose gene is injected into cotton seeds to make them resistant to bollworms.

Farmer groups have opposed the introduction of BT cotton seeds in India, saying they are environmentally hazardous and could contaminate the genes of native varieties through cross pollination.
See also: Brazil activists target Monsanto, 03 Jun 03

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