from Claire Robinson, editor
+ VICTORY IN INDIA: GOVT BANS MONSANTO GM COTTON SEEDS
In the light of their poor performance, India's regulatory authority, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), has banned commercial cultivation of three varieties of Mahyco-Monsanto's Bt cotton hybrids in Andhra Pradesh. These three varieties are Mech-12 Bt, Mech-162 Bt and Mech-184 Bt. These varieties completed three years of commercial cultivation and were waiting renewal. One of the varieties - Mech-12 Bt - has been banned throughout southern India.
Farmer and civil society groups are demanding that farmers who incurred losses from the varieties that have now been banned be compensated by the company. The Centre for Sustainable Agriculture is demanding that stocks of the 3 varieties be seized by the government before they can enter illegal channels.
+ ... YET MONSANTO CLAIMED ITS BT COTTON WAS A BIG SUCCESS!
It's worth contrasting the widely reported failure of Mahyco-Monsanto's Bt cotton with Mahyco-Monsanto's claims of success. Monsanto said its research showed Bt cotton produced good results in all the states in which it was grown.
But a senior member of India's regulatory committee, GEAC, said that every state reported at best "mixed" results with Monsanto's Bt cotton.
In Andhra Pradesh, where Bt cotton has now been banned, Monsanto's research proclaimed that AP farmers had gained five-fold from its Bt cotton. The GEAC also disallowed commercial cultivation of one of Monsanto's Bt cotton varieties in the whole of south India "on receiving adverse reports about its performance in the last three years".
In addition to adverse reports from about 20 farmers' organisations, these reports came from state governments. One state - Gujarat - failed to provide reports but it is known that its report for 2002 declared Monsanto's Bt cotton "unfit for cultivation"!
Could it be that the states are biased against Monsanto? Far from it. The Chief Minister in Gujarat has been a rabid GM supporter, and he is not alone. In the recent BBC Bitter Harvest series, it was noted how the whole state apparatus in Punjab is working to promote Monsanto's seeds. Even in Andhra Pradesh, evidence has emerged of state manipulation of data in Monsanto's favour. While data in an original report revealed the failure of Bt Cotton in Andhra Pradesh, a second, visibly tampered-with version exaggerated the yields in Monsanto's favour!
+ MONSANTO'S "LIE OF THE CENTURY" - P V SATHEESH
A compelling presentation on the failure of Bt cotton in Andhra Pradesh by P V Satheesh, Director of the Deccan Development Society, is at
..what is the story that the farmers in AP are telling us with regard to Mahyco-Monsanto Bt hybrids? It is a story of terrible loss, deep pain, and cold anger, leading to explosive violence and even death... Hundreds of farmers... have repeatedly told us how the Bollgard cultivation had ruined them totally. In the face of this reality, the claim by Mahyco Monsanto [that farmers in Andhra Pradesh had gained five-fold from Bollgard]
can easily earn them the Lie of the Century award.
+ INDIA: BT COTTON INFECTS SOIL, FAILS ON ALL FRONTS, SAYS STUDY
Despite claims that Bt cotton provides socio-economic benefits, a new study reveals that it infected soil and no other crop could grow after the Bt cotton crop was harvested. The study, sponsored by Deccan Development Society, tracked GM Bt cotton for three years in Andhra Pradesh. It showed that Bt cotton has failed on all fronts including yield, cost of cultivation, returns to farmers and resistance to pests. The non-Bt cotton performed better on all counts.
+ INDIA: BT COTTON PRONE TO DISEASE
A study conducted by a team of cotton experts from the Indian government has noted that Bt cotton hybrids are susceptible to diseases like bacterial blight, alternaria leaf spot and grey mildew.
This report confirms the claims by different studies conducted by civil society organisations and independent scientific bodies pointing to the failure of Bt cotton in 2004 season. It also justifies the claims of Andhra Pradesh Bt cotton growers for compensation for crop loss.
+ INDIA: STORM OF PROTEST AGAINST NOD FOR MORE GM CROPS
Farmers' groups and civil society organisations have expressed deep concerns over the country's regulatory authority approving new Bt cotton hybrids for cultivation in new areas when it has just banned three Bt cotton varieties after they failed in the field.
+ FARMERS SAY NO TO GM
Farmers and others from Bangladesh, Canada, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali, Nepal, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Thailand gathered at Southern Encounters - an international consultation on Bt cotton, 14-15 April at Hyderabad, India as part of the Global Week of Action. Farmers, scientists and researchers narrated first-hand encounters with Bt cotton and GM crops.
A statement from the Deccan Development Society, India said: "Having shared our encounters with genetic engineering from our countries, we are stronger in our conviction that the use of transgenic crops has unleashed new hazards onto our farms and into our lives. The profit-driven 'life' science industry is more life destroying than life giving."
A new coalition, South Against Genetic Engineering, was formed in Hyderabad:
+ WOMEN FARMERS CALL ON ICRISAT TO SHUT DOWN GENE BANKS
About 500 women farmers on 15 April held a demonstration outside the International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics in Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, demanding farmers' seeds back from the ICRISAT Gene Banks. They also demanded that ICRISAT close down if it does not put farmer-led research on their agenda.
The women said the trend of ICRISAT to turn its facilities over to private business and to invite transnational corporations onto its Board, has made it lose their trust. The women said, "Once upon a time, in trust, we handed over to you, a large number of germplasms. The seeds we had nourished like our own children. Seeds which were a product of generations of our own knowledge."
The women demanded that ICRISAT hand back the collection of germplasms in its gene bank to farmers: "Please hand us back our germplasm. Close down your gene banks. They have already turned into Gene Morgues. Now they will be turned by you into seeds for predatory corporate profits. THIS IS OUR HERITAGE, GIVE IT BACK TO US."
+ INDIA'S DRAFT SEED BILL MAY BE DELAYED
The Indian agriculture ministry's attempt to rush through the draft National Seed Bill may be delayed. Acting on a representation made by a farmers' organisation, the chairperson of the National Advisory Council, Sonia Gandhi, directed the ministry to reconsider clauses in the draft that could hamper the interests of farmers.
Opposition comes from the All India Farmers' Council, the farmers' outfit of the ruling Congress party, Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS). The BKS leader, Dr Krishna Bir Chaudhary, said: "The bill is a clear trap to curb the traditional and indigenous rights of our peasantry to grow, breed, multiply, preserve and exchange seeds.
The bill's delay is a huge embarrassment
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