Nari Samaj rally in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India
The last 12 months have seen a number of biotech industry lies bite the dust. One of them is that developing countries are hot for GMOs, with only affluent Westerners obstructing their acceptance. In fact, the opposite has been shown to be the case, with deeply rooted resistance to GM crops becoming more and more apparent in developing countries in the face of the heavily financed efforts of US-based and GM industry-led interests to push GM crops.
GM Crop Cultivation Declines in China
China has been the GM promoters’ poster child for the rush to adopt GM crops but recently it hasn’t just been in Europe that the growing of GM crops has declined. In China in 2010, the area devoted to GM crops also went into reverse. And in early 2011 China began publicly backing off GM crops, citing, among other factors, people’s apprehension about the health aspects of GM foods. China said it would focus instead on developing and commercialising high-yielding non-GM seeds for at least the next 5 years. The GM lobby constantly cite China when they claim that the biotech train’s leaving and that any country that’s not on it, will be left behind!
India Says No to GM Crops
In February 2010, more than 100,000 Indians fasted against GM crops in general and Bt brinjal (eggplant) in particular, under the slogan: "Remember the Mahatma, Stop Bt Brinjal and Protect India’s Seed & Food Sovereignty."
India Says No to Bt Brinjal
In a groundbreaking victory for citizens, farmers, NGOs, and independent scientists, India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced on 9 February 2010 that the commercialization of Bt brinjal (eggplant/aubergine) would not go ahead. Ramesh said there was "no clear consensus within the scientific community" on the safety of Bt brinjal for human health or the environment. He added, "Serious questions have not been answered," and remarked on the "widespread opposition" to commercialization. Read Ramesh’s impressive Ministerial statement on the moratorium:
13 Indian States Say No to Bt Brinjal
Three days before environment minister Ramesh announced his decision on Bt brinjal, the chief ministers of 13 Indian states told the central government that they did not want their farmers to grow the crop. The states that grow three-quarters of the country’s brinjal crop categorically refused to grow the GM variety.
GM Companies Bussed in Fake Farmers to Demonstrate in Favour of GM Brinjal
The GM companies were so desperate to try and show some indigenous support for GM crops that they actually bussed in fake farmers to wave placards in favour of Bt brinjal to a consultation at Bangalore University. According to an article in The Economist "most of these men, registered at the consultation as farmers, were in fact landless labourers with no aubergine experience. [India’s environment minister] Mr Ramesh was the first to call their bluff."
How Monsanto Exploited an African Farmer
In November 2010, GMWatch published "Making up Makhathini", an extract from Raj Patel’s brilliant book "Stuffed and Starved" which explains the sad reality behind one of the faces trucked around the world by Monsanto to promote the idea that African farmers are benefiting from GM technology.
Farmers March Across India to Save Agriculture
The Kisan Swaraj Yatra, the massive civil society mobilization for a pro-farmer, pro-people, pro-planet, and GM-free form of agriculture, toured India between 2 October 2010, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, and 11 December 2010, traveling across 20 states. Here’s an inspirational report from India about the Kisan Swaraj Yatra.
Indian Farmers Vow to Destroy All GM Field Trials
In February 2011, a two-day South Asia Conference of the Federation of Farmers’ Associations resolved to destroy all trials of GM seeds on agriculture fields wherever they took place in India. To protest the anti-farmer policies of the central Government, the All India Federation of Farmers’ Associations will also stage a demonstration in New Delhi on March the 9th.
Philippines: University Bows to City Hall, Uproots GM Eggplants
Amid loud cheers from farmers and opponents of Bt aubergines/eggplants, UP (University of the Philippines) Mindanao complied with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s order to uproot the GM crop trial.
Philippines: Ag Secretary Says No To Commercialisation of GM Eggplant
In early March 2011, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala expressed objections to the commercial production of genetically modified eggplants that were being tested in various sites in the country.
Wikileaks Document Shows U.S. Govt. Pushing GM Food onto African Countries
Buried deep in the Wikileaks files is the US government’s objective to steer many African countries toward the use of GM agriculture. In a document outlining priorities for intelligence gathering in Burundi, Rwanda, the Republic of Congo and others in the region, one objective is "Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops." Tom Laskawy commented in an article for Grist: "it’s … a shame to see that our spymasters are actively engaged in efforts to make the world safe for Monsanto. Aren’t there better things for them to do?" See also.
Vatican Backs Off GM Crops
GM emerges clearly from the US cables made available via Wikileaks as a key US strategic interest. Wikileaks also showed how the US had unsuccessfully targeted the Vatican in the hope of getting it to endorse GM crops as vital to developing countries. But in January 2011, a leading Vatican cardinal made clear that there was no truth in claims the Holy See approved of biotech crops. Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson, a Ghanian who heads the Vatican’s key office for Justice and Peace, likened the economic dependence on big corporations that GM crops bring to a new form of slavery. He said farmers in the developing world shouldn’t be dependent on foreign multinationals for their seeds.
International Coalition Calls on Gates Foundation for Real Solutions to Hunger, Climate Change
AGRA Watch and La Via Campesina, supported by 60 organizations and 40 academics and scientists from around the world, have called on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support real solutions to climate change, hunger and poverty.
GM More Expensive and Less Successful Than Conventional Breeding
The US government-funded news service Voice of America published an article, "Are GM crops Africa’s path to food security?" that clearly aims to convince us that they are. But the article included incisive comments by a former EPA biotech specialist, Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman, to the effect that GM crops fail to increase intrinsic yields and are encouraging the spread of superweeds and Bt-resistant pests. Gurian-Sherman also says that developing a trait using GM takes a long time and costs far more than conventional breeding. Conventional breeding is also more successful at producing crops with desirable complex traits such as drought tolerance.
Non-GM Plant Breeding Succeeds as GM Fails
Despite much hyperbole about the promise of GM crops for the developing world, to date not a single GM drought resistant crop, for example, has been commercialised anywhere in the world. Non-GM plant breeding, on the other hand, has achieved success after success in such areas of breeding, which is why in early 2011 GMWatch published a guide to some of the the non-GM success stories that generally get minimal if any reporting in the popular media.
Global South Protests Against Channel 4 Documentary in UK
There was a massive protest against the bias of Channel 4 TV’s anti-environmentalist polemic, What the Green Movement Got Wrong, which aired in the UK on November 4. Presented by Stewart Brand and Mark Lynas, and with support from Patrick Moore, the programme aired blatant falsehoods about environmentalists that fit snugly into the corporate agenda. Chief among these was the charge that greens are obstructing environmental and social progress by obstructing nuclear power and GM crops. In particular, the programme made out that but for Northern NGOs, GM crops could help solve hunger in the developing world. The journalist George Monbiot commented that Brand’s "account is infused with magical thinking, in which technology is expected to solve all political and economic problems."
A coalition of over 50 organisations and individuals based in the developing world wrote a letter of complaint to Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, Dorothy Byrne. The coalition accused the filmmakers of using only two Southern-based commentators, Florence Wambugu and Shanthu Shantharam, both of whom are funded by major GM industry interests. The letter said: "We are tired of the corporate campaigns which claim to speak for the global South."
India: GM Brinjal Brings Shame to Industry Science
Six science academies, which unanimously recommended lifting of the moratorium on Bt brinjal imposed by environment minister Jairam Ramesh, were found guilty of plagiarism. Scientists who drafted the report did not examine data submitted by developers of Bt brinjal to the regulator. Instead, they relied on the views of an individual pro-GM scientist – P. Anand Kumar – expressed in a newsletter. Kumar, in his article published in Biotech News, drew liberally from the report of the Monsanto-funded outfit – International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). So, in effect, the academies based their recommendations on industry claims.
On the same day as the dubious report of the academies was being circulated, another report on Bt brinjal, "The Scope and Adequacy of the GEAC Environment Risk Assessment (ERA)", by Dr David A Andow of the University of Minnesota, was released. Andow concluded that tBt brinjal had not been adequately assessed by regulators. Because of pest resistance, he also predicted, Bt brinjal would fail within 4-12 years.
Monsanto "Faked" Data for Approvals, Claims Former Company Chief
At a public consultation on Bt brinjal, former managing director of Monsanto India, Tiruvadi Jagadisan, said Monsanto "used to fake scientific data" submitted to government regulatory agencies to get commercial approvals for its products in India. The former Monsanto boss said government regulatory agencies with which the company used to deal in the 1980s simply depended on data supplied by the company when giving approvals to herbicides.
"The Central Insecticide Board was supposed to give these approvals based on the location and crop-specific data from India. But it simply accepted foreign data supplied by Monsanto. They did not even have a test tube to validate the data and, at times, the data itself was faked. I retired from the company as I felt the management of Monsanto, USA, was exploiting our country," Tiruvadi Jagadisan said.