Vandana Shiva on Bt cotton toxification (26/1/2005)

The Financial Express, India, in its Monday (January 24, 2005) edition had 2 pieces on GM. One was by Bhagirath Choudhary, national coordinator of ISAAA in India, and just repeated the usual list of ISAAA claims about global uptake of GM crops. The piece below is by Dr Vandana Shiva, founder-director of Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology.

Bt Cotton: Can we call it a success story?

Dr Vandana Shiva says -

It is about toxification of our systems

Financial Express, January 24, 2005

Toxification of governance: Bt Cotton entered the country illegally. Imports and field trials did not have the clearance of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), which is required under the rules for regulating genetically engineered organisms under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology has filed a case in the Supreme Court, challenging this toxification of our governance and regulatory system.

On January 6, 2005, Monsanto had to pay a penalty of $500,000 after it was sued by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for corruption involving $700,000 of illegal or questionable payments made to various Indonesian officials. Monsanto admitted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, that it paid over $750,000 in bribes to more than 140 government officials and members of their families between 1997 and 2000.

Toxification of agriculture: Bt Cotton is itself a toxic product. It induces genes from bacteria to produce toxins in plants to control the bollworm. The bollworm is however being more efficiently controlled by toxic Coke and Pepsi than by Monsanto
Bt Cotton as reported by farmers. The only function of genetic engineering toxic genes into plant is failing.

For the false promises, Indian farmers are paying US prices for cotton seed. Starting 2004, the profits from Bt Cotton in India are the same as in the US and Australia. The additional profit is due entirely to a huge price hike in India from $19/bag in 2002 to $72/bag in 2004. In contrast, Latin American farmers are paying $24/bag and Chinese farmers $22/bag.

High seed and input prices are pushing farmers into debt and then to suicide.

Toxification of truth: For three years in a row, Bt Cotton has failed thousands of farmers. In a recent study undertaken by the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, it was found that Bt Cotton farmers spent Rs 6,813 per acre compared to Rs 580 for farmers growing non Bt Cotton. Inspite of repeated failure, Monsanto sites GM crops in India as a miracle.

(The writer is founder director of Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology)

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