When we were all busy debating other things, an MoU was quietly being signed off by the Maharashtra government. American multinational, Monsanto that develops Genetically Modified (GM) crops was allocated land in Vidarbha to set up their largest seed factory in the country.
Its nothing surprising for a corrupt government nor unexpected from a muscle-wielding American heavyweight like Monsanto but rather outrageous in the current context. when you see the results of Monsanto’s experiments in India.
For one, it comes barely a month after the Central govt. admission that Bt cotton is no longer efficient in resisting pest attacks and that the Bt cotton seeds should no longer be sold at a premium. It is the first time India has official declared that Bt cotton was a failure in spite of compelling evidence.
While our govt. was looking the other way, Monsanto has been buying out all home-grown seeds from farmers over the last few years and systematically replacing them with Bt seeds sold at prices, much higher than farmers could afford. Now, cotton growers have no alternative but to buy seeds every season from Monsanto – 90% of India’s cotton seed market is made up of Bt Cotton.
Monsanto’s monopoly in every country it has launched its GM seeds is well documented but it took a panel and a committee in Punjab & Haryana in Feb. 2016 to recommend cutting back on Bt the next season, and “going back to traditional varieties as they were immune to pest attacks”. Last year’s cotton harvest fell by 60% compared to the previous harvest.
After 8 long years, in February of this year the Central Govt. was asked to explain how it allowed field trials of GM mustard, corn as well as cotton when the Supreme court had issued a ban in 2007 and 2008 on the introduction of any GM food crops in India.
Ignoring fundamental bio-safety precautions is common in India but by openly flouting court orders Maharashtra Chief Minister Fadnavis has opened the doors to GM crops in our country. And that is a sad case for India.
No one writes it more succinctly than Vandana Shiva who has been campaigning against GM crops for decades. Read her brilliant response to a New Yorker article here : http://vandanashiva.com/?p=105