When you read this piece by Ron Herring in The Hindu about GM crops, and then this piece by Ananth Krishnan in the same newspaper, you wonder, is Herring a smart man? There is also this piece in the Times of India about GM fears when it comes to food. The March 2009 issue of Geo magazine carries a lengthy interview with Jeffrey Smith, about the way Monsanto is trying to muscle its way into the Indian agricultural scene.
The title of Mr. Herring’s piece gently chides people that they may be smart otherwise, but on GM, they are absolutely wrong. Of course, the author has nothing to offer by way of evidence and rests his argument on the somewhat simplistic premise that when farmers are opting for the crop in large numbers, it must be good. They have enough sense not to put their money into something that is a loser, goes the overall argument.
“The World According to Monsanto,” the documentary film has already nailed such lies by pointing out that India’s cotton seed market has been taken over by Monsanto to produce a virtual monopoly. There are also several anecdotes to show that farmers committed suicide in the areas where the company overran traditional agriculture.
The second piece linked above in The Hindu talks about the threat of Monsanto-Mahyco’s Bt Brinjal being introduced in India. Given the lack of traceability, labelling and food safety laws in India concerning GM, it is likely that organic brinjal will be hard to come by afterwards, except in pockets of resistance. Even these, Monsanto may overcome with its financial muscle or legal threats, of the kind it has used in the United States (see this article titled “Harvest of Fear” in Vanity Fair). There is also the celebrated case of Percy Schmeiser of Bruno, Saskatchewan, Canada, in which Monsanto tried its seed mafia tactics and failed miserably.
As consumers who want to control our food choice, we vehemently oppose the attempts by Monsanto Mahyco to force feed us their GM brinjal. The UPA Government, which has otherwise done well in several spheres including reduction of rural poverty, should firmly resist any attempts to hijack people’s diets by Monsanto, and turn this country into a long-term feeding trial for GM research. That unenviable distinction has already been earned in America, and we are content to let them keep that status.
India should reject any products that contain GM ingredients. It should confine all GM activity to controlled environments, and not open fields where they threaten biodiversity with permanent alteration.
We say no to GM and no to Monsanto and their attempts to engineer our food. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of the Government of India should ban the sale of any food containing GM, until independent research has validated it. The self-generated evidence put forth by Monsanto is self-serving, suspect and hence liable to be rejected even on ethical grounds.