(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)
India has little to rejoice over the ouster of Monsanto from EU. The unglorious exit of the world’s largest multinational producer of GMO and Transgenic seeds is the culmination of a sustained campaign launched much against the sinister and suspect design of all powerful promoter of GMO by a very alert, conscious and concerned farm loby of EU Nations.
Their ostensible reason to eradicate hunger and malnutrition from developing and less developed countries blew apart unfolding their ugly and highly reprehensible act to distort, manipulate and subvert biotechnology for commercial gains and build-up a molecular empire for themselves through highjacking and pirating the bio-diversity riches of third world countries not to speak of illegal patenting of traditional and indigenous knowledge of the people.
The EU kicked out Monsanto and saved itself but how about us. Monsanto and other biotech giants like Novartis, Syngenta, Du Pont, Aventis and Rice Tec have clearly seen the writings on the wall and they will now concentrate more heavily and expand their biotech activities in South East Asia and Africa. $100 million biotechnology aid announced by United States Agency for International Development for carrying forward their policy to expand research in genetic engineering is a part of their strategy in this direction, without having the least care for human health, agro-ecological destruction and environmental degradation.
India being predominantly an agricultural country must feel the pinch more deeply. The memory of devastation and disaster caused to our farmers by Monsanto’s transgenic Bt. cotton and hybrid Corn- Roundup which got clearance from GEAC, side tracking all scientific norms, still haunt them. If we have to save our agriculture from biotechnological exploitation by Monsanto and the likes, we must launch Campaign to put an immediate freeze on commercial release of any genetically engineered crop.
Genetic engineering involves taking a gene from one species and splicing it into another to transfer a desired trait. But unwholesome and unethical use of gene transfer by biotech corporates is aimed at enriching their wealth, Govt. of India and more specifically the Ministry of & Forests & Environment, Ministry of Biotechnology and the GEAC probably have no rational explanation as to how the GMOs which are considered damaging and hazardous to human and plant biology are getting access into our country.
Benefits attributed to GMOs are all hypothetical. Years of sustained medical research the world over and indepth, independent analysis of research datas categorically rejects the false propaganda of biotech business corporates about GMOs. Because of lack of segregation, wide spread GM contamination has been reported at all levels of agriculture and food processing.
The whole regulatory process has become incredible and redundant. Only few months back the GEAC had nearly allowed the import of 23000 tonnes of GM Corn Soya blend under pressure from US AID despite the fact that 48 million tonnes of food grains were rotting in the open. Soya food formulae has been found to cause defects in female genital tracts, deformities in the foetus crippling of the newlyborn, neurobehavioral disorders, aberrations in metabolism and reproductive disorders in both male and female.
Gene transfer or genetic engineering is a very complex process and the third world countries are scientifically so ill equipped that it is very difficult to identify screen and monitor gene transfer from undesirable sources. What is more dreadful than the access of biotech business corporates in India is the vulnerability of the Govt and our scientific bureaucracy to promote the cause of the multinationals at the cost of Indian agriculture and contamination of resources of life.
Even the Indian Council of Medical Research warned about long-term exposure to corn-soya blend containing starlink corn. But there is no end to the greed of biotech multinationals. The ill famed terminator technology involves implanting male sterility gene barnase which is a potent cell poison that breaks down RNA and causes infertility of seeds.
Despite the global protest against the use of terminator and its numerous variations, the biotechnology industry finds it a strong weapon for complete control, monopoly and dominance in agriculture. This technology has been rejected by farmers all over the world as it goes against their right to save, exchange and replant seeds. Here again Monsanto and Aventis are the major culprit who are promoting terminator technology. The fiasco of genetically engineered Golder Rice and Potatoes, much hyped for containing a higher level of Beta Corotene (Pro Vit A) and Proteins must have proved embracing to the developers and the Dept. of Biotechnology, Govt of India. Neither Golden Rice nor GM Potato are solutions to blindness and protein deficiencies respectively.
What is even more alarming is the Biopiracy of biodiversity riches and heritages. It goes to the credit of our alert farmers and media which eventually saved 23000 rare varieties of Rice plasm developed over years of sustained research by the legendry agricultural scientist, the late Dr. R.H. Richavia from being handed over to multinational company, Syngenta.
This undercover deal of IGKV with Syngenta puts into insignificance the role of National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources. It is extremely sad and reflects the attitude of Indian Government that instead blacklisting Monsanto for act of bio piracy of soft Milling Native Indian wheat variety NP-4 (Pusa -4) its illegal patenting, the Govt tried to cover-up the matter.
(Editorial : Farmers' Forum Magazine)