Corrupt Monsanto flexes muscles in South India - Satheesh (4/8/2005)

From pv satheesh, director of the Deccan Development Society, http://www.ddsindia.org


This is also a summer of Corrupt Monsanto. Probably nothing new for people in the Americas who know the devil from very close quarters. But for us in India, Monsanto's naked power which in turn is fuelled by its capacity to corrupt politicians and officials was not a first hand experience.

As all of you know the story began with the withdrawal of permission to three varieties of Monsanto by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, GEAC, the Indian Federal clearing agency for approval of commercial release of GMOs.

This was followed by the daring action of banning all operations of Monsanto by the Government of Andhra Pradesh a major province of South India. This was in response to Monsanto's refusal to pay compensation to those farmers who had planted its Bt Cotton and had suffered severe losses.

This has forced Monsanto to flex its corrupt muscles and bring a tremendous amount of pressure from political leaders, financial press and the chambers of industry and commerce. Each one of these is an extremely powerful organ of policy influence. Together they are a bomb.

The Commissioner for Agriculture in Andhra Pradesh, a fiesty government officer, has been instrumental in blocking all the sinister designs of Monsanto in Andhra Pradesh. She had worked hard to ban Monsanto's operation from AP. After Monsanto operations were banned from AP, other companies have started selling their own Bt cotton in the state. But each one of those companies is paying nearly 70% of their seed costs as royalty to Monsanto from whom they have bought the Bt genes. The Commissioner for Agriculture is now examining how to bring the Monopoly practices law into operation and end this royalty to Monsanto. Something akin to how the European courts have fined Microsoft for its monopoly practices in the software industry.

I understand from recent media reports that Monsanto is trying its damned best to get her shifted out of her office using its money and muscle power. If she goes, a major hurdle is out of Monsanto's way. Then it can manipulate the other people to toe its line. It is never short of slush money. And the neo-liberal governments in India will not shed a single tear if Monsanto has its diabolical way in covering all farm fields in this country with GE crops. For them GE is a non issue. Their only focus is on how to get the maximum Foreign Direct Investment into India and score a point over China. After all we are a China-obsessed country. If China grows Bt cotton in 100,000 hectares we should grow it on 100,001 Hectares. If China pollutes its farm fields by a factor of one we should do so by a factor of 1.1.

The Prime Minsiter of India recently made a 'historic' visit to the US. The neo liberal India media went hysterical about the achievements of this trip. One of the two major achievements was his declaration that "India and the US are ready to launch a new partnership in agriculture, which will be the beginning of a new Green Revolution in India". In simple plain English what he was referring is opening up Indian agriculture to GE from the USA. Of the four points mentioned in the Indo US Joint Statement on economic coopearation, a major one was the "Launch a U.S.-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture focused on promoting teaching, research, service and commercial linkages".

This is the situation we are confronted with. Some of you might remember when I wrote a letter to the Chief Minsiter of Andhra Pradesh in May 2005 congratulating his government for banning Monsanto's activities from AP I had said: "Surely you will be the target of severe attack over the next few weeks and months from a slew of vested interests: the paid scientists, manipulated media and self serving political stooges of Monsanto. But we pray that you will retain this moral strength that your government has exhibited..."

The attack and manipulations have begun just now. In the neighbouring state of Karnataka where Monsanto is very strong, another shocking development is taking place. A Professor of Agricultural Sciences had reported in a local newspaper the Bt Cotton study done by the Deccan Development Society. The University where he is working has served him a show cause notice asking him why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for causing "irrefutable damage to the name of the university"!!!

More on this later. But I urge all your subscribers and people who are deeply concerned about Genetic

Engineering in agriculture to send a letter in solidarity to the Government of Andhra Pradesh, hailing its policies and urging it not to buckle under the manipulations of Monsanto.

We will post the addresses to which such letters need to be sent within a couple of hours.

with warm regards

GM WATCH wrote:
GM WATCH daily


23/7/2005 "'Disinformation Syndrome' afflicts government scientists "scientific and technical papers, particularly within U.S. environmental agencies, are routinely censored, altered or manipulated for political purposes or under commercial pressure"
22/7/2005 Honest Science Under Siege

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