Wars: Food Freedom Vs Food Slavery
26 June, 2003
Monsanto through the U.S.
government, is trying desperately to reverse its failing fortunes by
creating markets for its genetically engineered crops (GMOs) through
coercion and corruption.
The E.U. has not yet cleared
GM crops for commercial planting or GM food for imports. Brazil has
had a ban on GM crops. And India has not cleared GM food crops and has
stopped the spread of genetically engineered Bt. Cotton to Northern
India after its dismal performance in Southern India in the first season
of commercial planting in 2002.
E.U., Brazil and India are
all under attack overtly and covertly, for
not rushing into adopting genetically engineered crops without caution
and ensuring biosafety.
The U.S. has threatened to
initiate a dispute against the E.U. in the W.T.O. for not importing
genetically modified foods. The U.S. trade representative, Mr. Zoellick
was in Brazil at the end of May to force Brazil to remove the ban on
GM crops. The U.S. Secretary of State tried to bully Southern African
countries to the Earth Summit in Johannesburg to accept GM food and,
but Zambia refused to be bullied. In India, the U.S.
Embassy tried to pressurize
the Ministry of Environment through the Prime Minister's office to clear
imports of GM corn, but a major mobilisation of women's groups organized
as the National Alliance of Women for Food Rights under the movement
of Diverse Women for Diversity, was successful in sending back two ship
loads of 10,000 tons of GM corn. Since then the Chairman of the Genetic
Engineering Approval Committee which rejected GM crops and imports has
been removed and the Agricultural Ministry has been changed.
Free people with free information
are saying no to genetically
engineered food for both ecological and health reasons. However, genetic
engineering is being imposed on the world by a handful of global corporations
with the backing of one powerful government.
Commercial crops produced
through genetic engineering are not producing more food nor are they
reducing the use of chemicals. While the hunger argument is the most
frequently used argument to promote and push genetic engineering, GMOs
have more to do with corporate hunger for profits than poor people's
hunger for food. As a news item in the international Herald Tribune
of May 29, 2003 titled, "Biotech war recast as hunger issue"
President George W. Bush
is framing his attack on European resistance to genetically modified
crops as part of a campaign against world hunger.
Bush and his aides are making
an emotional plea, saying the
administration's stance is part of the fight against world hunger. In
a speech last week be accused Europe of hindering the "great cause
of ending hunger in Africa" with its ban genetically modified corps."
(IHT, May 29, 2003)
The technology of genetic
engineering is not about overcoming food scarcity but about creating
monopolies over food and seed, the first link in the chain and over
After having pressurized
Lula's government in Brazil to temporarily remove the ban on GMOs, Monsanto
is now claiming royalties for genes in the Round up Resistance Soya
crops, showing once again that profits through royalty collection are
the real objective of spreading GM crops.
India has been forced to change its patent laws under TRIPS and the
main beneficiary of the Second Amendment to India's Patent Act of 1970
are biotech corporations like Monsanto, seeking patents on genetically
Patents also criminalise
and make illegal the human work of life's
reproduction. When seeds are patented, farmers exercising their freedom
and performing their duty of saving and exchanging seeds are treated
as "intellectual property thieves". This can reach absurd
limits as in the case of Percy Schmieser whose canola field was polluted
by Monsanto's Round up Resistant Canola, and instead of Monsanto compensating
for pollution on the "polluter pays principle", Monsanto sued
him for $200,000 for theft of their genes. Monsanto uses detective agencies
and police to track farmers and their crops. Patents imply police states.
Genetic engineering is not
merely causing genetic pollution of
biodiversity and creating bio-imperialism, monopolies over life itself.
It is also causing knowledge pollution -- by undermining independent
science, and promoting pseudo science. It is leading to monopolies over
knowledge and information.
The victimisation of Dr.
Arpad Putzai who showed the health risks of GM potatoes and Dr. Ignacio
Chapela who showed that corn had been contaminated in its centre of
diversity in Mexico are examples of the intolerance of a corporate controlled
scientific system for real science.
The fabrication of the data
by Monsanto on Bt. Cotton India is an
example of the promotion of an unnecessary, untested, hazardous
technology through pseudo science. While yields of GM cotton fell by
80% and farmers had losses of nearly Rs. 6,000/acre. Monsanto used Martn
Qaim (University of Bonn) and David Zilberman) University of California,
Berkeley) to publish an article in Science to claim that yields of Bt.
Cotton increased by 80%. Qaim and Zilberman published the paper on the
basis of data provided by Monsanto from Monsanto's trials not on the
basis of the harvest from farmers fields in the first year of commercial
The fabricated data that
presents a failure of Bt. Cotton as a miracle hides the fact that non-target
insects and diseases increased 250-300%, costs of seed were 300% more
and quantity and quality of cotton was low. This is why on April 25,
2003, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Government
of India did not give clearance to Monsanto to sell Bt. Cotton seeds
in Northern India.
The false claims of Monsanto
were also proved with a total failure of Hybrid maize in the state of
Bihar and a black listing of the company by the government.
In Rajasthan, Monsanto gave
itself an award for miracle yields. While the brochures claimed 50-90
Q/acre, farmers harvested only 7 Q/acre, 90% lower than the promise.
Farmers of the Udaipur district of Rajasthan have started a campaign
to boycott Monsanto seeds.
Reports of these failures
do not reach the international level because Monsanto controls the media
with its public relations spin, just as it is attempting to control
governments and science.
Our crops are being polluted,
our food contaminated, our scientific research and regulatory agencies
threatened and corrupted.
This is the context in which
the Biotech Conference for Agriculture
Ministers in Sacremento, California, hosted by Ann Vanneman, the U.S.
Secretary for Agriculture is taking place. Ann Vanneman used to head
Agracetus, a subsidiary of Monsanto. The Brazilian Agriculture Ministry
is held captive by Monsanto. The removal of India's Agriculture Minister,
Ajit Singh, a few months
before general elections is to ensure that the threat to peasant survival
under corporate control of agriculture is not put high on the agenda
and India's Agriculture Ministry also comes under Monsanto/Cargill control.
The first activity in which the new Agriculture Minister Rajnath Singh
participated was a Global Seed Conference organised by the Biotech industry.
Sustainability and science
are being sacrificed for a reckless
experiment with our biodiversity and food systems which is pushing species
and peasants to extinction. We need to re-imbed technology in ecology
and ethics to ensure that the full ecological and social costs are taken
What is at stake is the evolution
of nature and survival of people, our food sovereignty and food freedom,
integrity of creation and our food systems based on the evolutionary
freedom of nature and democratic freedoms of farmers and consumers.
The choice before us is bio-imperialism or bio-democracy. Will a few
corporations have a dictatorship over our governments, our knowledge
and information, our lives and all life on the planet or will we as
members of the Earth family liberate ourselves and all species from
the prison of patents and genetic engineering?
We need to reclaim our food
freedom and food sovereignty.
Our movement in India seeks
to defend our seed freedom (Bija Swaraj) and food freedom (Anna Swaraj)
by defending our rights, and refusing to cooperate with immoral and
unjust laws (Bija Satyagraha). We save and share our seeds, we boycott
corporate seeds, we are creating patent free, chemical free, genetic
engineering free zones of agriculture to ensure our agriculture is free
of corporate monopolies and chemical and
Our bread is our freedom.
Our freedom will ensure our bread. And each of us has a duty to exercise
bread freedom (Anna Swaraj) -- for the sake of the earth, for all species,
and for ourselves and the generations to come.