Monsanto's farmers to meet Bush in India? / Keep ag off Bush's menu! (2/3/2006)

1. Meeting Bush? Farming off the menu
2. 3 farmers to interact with Bush

On his arrival in India yesterday Bush was greeted by thousands of demonstrators opposed to his agenda on nukes, agriculture, Iraq etc.

The first article below reports PV Satheesh's plea for Bush not to be allowed to discuss agricultural issues during his visit to Andhra Pradesh - a state where Monsanto's GM cotton has wreaked absolute havoc.

"Except for its brute power, the US has nothing to offer to a civilised state like Andhra Pradesh," especially in the area of agriculture, says Satheesh in an open letter.

With the second article about a group of Indian farmers selected to meet Bush during his visit, the most interesting part comes right at the end where it says, "A team of scientists from Manasanto company in America has inspected the agricultural farms in 2003. He said that he has been using BT cotton seeds, which are yielding high profits."

This smells exactly like the usual misleading use of token farmers for PR purposes that we have seen repeatedly from Monsanto and the US administration.

TJ Buthelezi
Chengal Reddy

1.Meeting Bush? Farming off the menu, says NGO
DH News Service
The Deccan Herald, March 2 2006

Hyderabad: Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO promoting organic farming and revival of local food cultures, has appealed to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy not to discuss agricultural issues with American President George Bush during his six hour visit to Hyderabad on Friday as it would only push the state on to the path of destruction and despair.

"Except for its brute power, the US has nothing to offer to a civilised state like Andhra Pradesh, more so in the area of agriculture," said DDS Director P V Satheesh in an open letter to Mr Reddy.

Pointing out the "duplicitous" role of the US in conservation-related conventions, Mr Satheesh said the US was pushing India to sign various international charters on biodiversity and climate change when Washington itself had not signed any of them. While the state was recommending pathbreaking methods in managing pests, the US had increased by 40 times, its pesticide use in the last 50 years. Besides, it exploits 85 per cent of all its freshwater resources in that country for agriculture.

The subsidising of big, export-oriented farmers in the US to the extent of $350,000 per year had indirectly resulted in the suicides of farmers in India, he said. Also, the US agriculture actually uses 10 fossil fuel calories for each calorie of food produced. "Can we emulate this model... (that would) turn farmlands in this state into a desert?" he asked.

The global strategy of the US is to push genetic engineering (GE) of crops and their export which is the future of its economy. "With the death of its manufacturing sector, outsourcing of its IT industry and a huge scarcity in manpower to maintain its knowledge economy, the US is desperately dependent" on GE. That is why it's using its might and clout, "arm-twisting and bullying" through the WTO to force governments in Europe, Africa and Asia into accepting GE crops or removing the ban on them. This is the reason why the US is making "aggressive incursions" into agricultural research and development.

US design

"What the US wants to do is to completely subvert all non-GE research by luring, tempting and bribing major research institutions. If it fails, it will bully them to accept biotech as the sole area of research. That is the reason why Mr Chief Minister, Bush’s visit to the (Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University) sends shivers down several spines," he said.

Giving an example of the bulldozing by American-controlled organisations like the World Bank and IMF, Mr Satheesh said Haiti was forced to liberalise its rice markets in the mid-1990s and cheap US imports flooded its market. Local production collapsed along with the livelihood of tens of thousands of rural people. The country, which was self-sufficient a decade ago, today spends half of its export earnings on importing US rice.

Urging the chief minister to show all hospitality to the guest by offering him all the delicacies of the state, Mr Satheesh pleaded that he should not discuss agriculture with him since it was the sure path to destruction and despair.

2. 3 farmers to interact with Bush
New India Press,March 2 2006

KHAMMAM: Three progressive farmers from the district, Ankitha Umamaheswara Rao, M Srinivasa Rao and N Srinivasa Rao will have the rare privilege of interacting with US President George W Bush at the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University at Hyderabad. Umamaheswara Rao hails from Malkapuram village in Dammupet mandal and has been getting high profits by cultivating various crops in 50 acres.

He was sent to Malaysia to study modern farming methods by the State Government. He was selected as the best horticulturist for the year 2005.

He was cultivating 30 acres of oil palm and banana plantations, 10 acres of coconut plantations and 10 acres of jamoil.

"I think I have got this award as I have been cultivating on research model," he said.

Madala Srinivasa Rao, who has been cultivating cotton, chilli and papaya in 40 acres has also been selected as a progressive farmer.

"I would appeal to Bush against the attitude of the World Bank. If corporate farming is encouraged, it would throw away thousands of agricultural labourers out of work," he said.

Srinivasa Rao of Rajes


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