By Dr Vandana Shiva, Food Sovereignty Activist & Agro Ecologist
GM Mustard is a hoax. It is not required. It has been created to solve a problem that does not exist. A problem that has been cited to profit those in power. At the cost of the vulnerable.
Brothers and sisters, we cannot allow corporations like Monsanto*-Bayer**, with their men like Deepak Pental, to fool us into selling our families for a few extra dollars. They have been trying to corrupt our institutions and are now trying to corrupt our courts. They wish to see life as a corporate invention and we cannot let that happen.
In 1998, I had started ’Sarson Satyagraha’ (peaceful resistance movement to save Mustard) to defend Indian mustard and fight against its ban. Today, we need a Sarson Satyagraha in which every farmer and every citizen participates by boycotting GM Mustard seeds or GM Mustard oil. In 1857, we fought against the East India Company. That was our first independence movement. In 2017, we will participate in the third freedom movement—against poison in our foods—and freedom from the cartel hijacking our structures of governance and decision making.
In reality, GM Mustard is a Bayer mustard. This is crystal clear by looking at its history, traits and the patents on the component technologies. Bayer has hundreds of patents related to GMO Mustard and it has now merged with Monsanto Company and, therefore, it will not be inaccurate to call the GMO Mustard a Monsanto-Bayer Mustard.
The GEAC has committed FRAUD in misleading the nation that the GM technology in mustard was being used to increase yields by producing a hybrid. The GEAC has given its approval for GM Mustard, which was rejected in 2002. Since then, it has been established to be inferior in yields compared to the non-GMO Indian hybrid. The approval is clearly a fraud perpetrated on the nation and has been granted under pressure from Monsanto and Bayer.
The truth is that GM Mustard is a herbicide-resistant mustard, which is resistant to Bayer’s herbicide, Glufosinate, which has been established to be a neurotoxin (neurotoxins are toxins that are poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue).
In layman’s terms this means that Bayer-Monsanto stand to gain billions from the approval of GM Mustard, as this mustard will then be treated with their own herbicide by all farmers growing mustard—whether they want to or not. This is one of the reasons why the company, in cahoots with its stooges, has been pushing so hard for GM Mustard to be approved in India. Consumers and our poor farmers are just collateral damage in this self serving scheme of greed corporates and their corrupt henchmen.
BUT THIS IS NOT ALL. While on the one hand, they are corrupting our regulatory agencies, Monsanto is also trying to influence the courts to try and undermine our patent laws. Article 3( j) of the Indian Patent Act clearly excludes seeds, plants and animals from patentability. But they want to patent Our seeds and are, therefore, pushing a failed and toxic technology of genetic engineering on India, her farmers, and her citizens. Therefore, Bayer-Monsanto are doing two things simultaneously—pushing GMOs, while attacking our patent laws.
The real conspiracy is: Monsanto and Bayer are pushing for approval of GMOs to collect royalties from our farmers for GM Mustard seeds.
Let me explain: Our farmers make a living by saving mustard seeds from one year’s crop to the next. But Bayer-Monsanto want to put an end to this by claiming patent rights over GM Mustard seed and banning our own indigenous seeds. Why?
Because they will then charge these poor farmers royalties (on annual basis) on these very GM seeds that they are thrusting upon us. The farmers will have no option but to pay royalties on use of GM seeds as our own Indian seeds will be banned. Thus will our farmers become debt bound just as they did with Bt cotton***, wherein the cycle of rural debt pushed 300,000 farmers to commit suicide. Plainly speaking, GM Mustard equals farmers’ SUICIDES in Rajasthan and other mustard growing states.
There are SEVERAL DANGERS in GM Mustard. The first danger is monopoly over India’s mustard seeds—just like Monsanto established a monopoly on cotton seeds. The second danger is the spread of toxins in our agriculture, both through the spread of the herbicide Glufosinate, as well as, the genetic modification, which makes the plant toxic in and of itself. I have written a detailed review of the fraudulent assessment of the GEAC, which can be read here: http://vandanashiva.com/?p=491
Let me inform everyone clearly:
There have been NO feeding studies conducted on animals or humans to prove safety of GM Mustard.
There is NO blood analysis available of the animals.
Barnase, barstar, bar genes have NOT been tested for safety in GMO Mustard, and it is a patented technology of Bayer.
GM Mustard will cause devastation to not only biodiversity but also irreversibly impact Indian native mustard, bees and soil organisms. It is also an attack on the Constitution and sovereignty of India, as this decision will dismantle the Patent Act Article 3(j), and destroy the PVP & FR (Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights) and Biodiversity Act, by allowing for patents to be granted on seeds and plant life.
The approval from GEAC is merely a recommendation. The government, especially the environment minister, still has to take a final call. The government needs to take a stand. On the one hand, it says it has doubled farmers’ incomes, but on the other hand it is considering approving GMO Mustard, which will steal farmers’ livelihoods and pushes them towards extreme steps.
Further, agriculture is a state subject and the biosafety laws of India require state approval. Chief ministers of mustard growing states such as Rajasthan should maintain their commitment to say ’No’ to GM Mustard. This is how Bt brinjal* was stopped in India as well.
The government must offer farmers a support price for indigenous oilseeds in order to reverse import dependence on edible oils such as GM soybean oil and palm oil which were engineered in 1998 by the same interests, who are now using import dependence to promote GM Mustard.
We are the citizens of the Vasudeva Kutumbkam** world, the Earth Family. We must not bow to the greed of multinational corporates and should stand up for our agricultural legacy and our mustard. Just as salt and indigo triggered the Salt March and Champaran Satyagraha, let this new corruption give birth to a nationwide Sarson Satyagraha!
*Monsanto: Monsanto Company is an American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation and leading producer of genetically engineered seeds and ’Roundup’, a glyphosate-based herbicide
**Bayer: Bayer is a German multinational chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences company. Its CropScience division has products in crop protection (pesticides), seeds and plant biotechnology. It is also involved in genetic engineering of food
***Bt cotton: Bt cotton is a GMO cotton variety, which produces an insecticide to bollworm. It is produced by Monsanto Company
*Bt brinjal: Bt brinjal is a suite of genetically modified brinjals created by Mahyco, an Indian seed company, through its joint venture with Monsanto. Bt brinjal was approved for commercialisation in India in 2009, but the then Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, placed an embargo on its release
**Vasudeva Kutumbkam: A Sanskrit phrase found in Hindu texts, meaning ‘The world is one family’