Tamil Nadu farmers organise against Monsanto

The quiet “research sponsorship” diplomacy pursued by Monsanto in India has failed to wash with farmers. On April 3, many farmers’ organisations got together in Coimbatore to consider the gravity of the threat posed to hu

Dr. M.R.Sivasamy, farmer leader, addressing a meeting on Monsanto field trials at TNAU, Coimbatore, April 3, 2009

Dr. M.R.Sivasamy, farmer leader, addressing a meeting on Monsanto field trials at TNAU, Coimbatore, April 3, 2009

man health, agriculture, food safety and biosafety by Monsanto’s genetically modified crops. The verdict: catastrophic.

The senior farmer leader Dr. M.R.Sivasamy urged the farmers to destroy the open-field trials of  crops launched at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, as a proxy for Monsanto.

This call is perfectly valid, considering that the GM companies have, in different instances, obdurately insisted on going ahead with open-field growing of crops (violating the permissions given to them), clandestine distribution of illegal GM cotton seeds (unearthed recently at Attapady in the Coimbatore-Palakkad forest border by Kerala government), and refusal to subject their crops to proper safety testing. Finally, Monsanto and its ilk does not have any liability for any damage that they cause in India under existing laws for biosafety.

Greenpeace has issued a statement on the impending arrival of GM food crops. Evidently, the entire p0pulation of Tamil Nadu is sought to be turned into lab rats by Indian subsidiary Mahyco-Monsanto, by plying its untested GM seeds for vegetables.

Do you know of any method to determine which brinjals in your local supermarket or green-grocer are Bt and which are not? Obviously not.

That makes you a lab rat for Monsanto, the same company that produced Agent Orange, a chemical used to destroy Vietnamese forests and vegetation (see this report in the BBC), rendering people seriously ill. It also dumped so much toxic Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Anniston, Alabama, US, that the local population fell sick and sued it. The company was asked to pay heavy damages — 700 million dollars — as a result. Read the full story here.

Generally, Monsanto tries to hide its past behind the screen that its chemical operations were under the charge of a new company, Solutia Inc. But the Washington Post reveals that the original Monsanto company had filed judicial papers undertaking to pay any damages that Solutia could not. (“Officials at Solutia Inc., the name given to Monsanto’s chemical operations after they were spun off into a separate company in 1997, acknowledge that Monsanto made mistakes…” says the Washington Post).

So if you get sick by being force-fed the Bt vegetables by Mahyco-Monsanto, you know what to do.  Get together and sue them. But why wait? Why eat them at all? Protest to the DMK government demanding an end to all GM agriculture and the declaration of Tamil Nadu as a GM-free state.

Also write a letter to Pasumai Vikatan at this address pasumai@vikatan.com if you feel strongly moved by the issue. This magazine from the Vikatan group has been opposing GM and advocating organic agriculture, through detailed articles by and on the organics evangelist, Nammalwar.

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