Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Monsanto's marketing success? Bt cotton: India's poor, vulnerable farmers dependent on rainfed farming "suffered"

By Our Representative
A top world expert has termed the world's biggest multinational seeds company, Monsanto, which is now being bought over by Bayer, and is involved in a dispute with the Government of India on how much of royalty it should take back to home on selling it's genetically modified (GM) seeds, as nothing more than a "marketing success."
In Ahmedabad on Tuesday, where she addressed government officials, experts and activists, Angelika Hilbeck of the Institute of Integrative Biology, Agroecology & Environmental Biosafety Group, Zurich, Switzerland, said, the controversial US MNC functions just on one model, which is easy to predict -- share market.
Calling it "essentially a licensing company", Hilbeck said, after working with GM seeds for several, and facing severe criticism over its failure of huge claims of their success world over, "it is withdrawing and is being bought over by Bayer,another MNC, as it isn't sure any more with its consumers. Hence it wants to get away from the business."
"The yields from Monsanto seeds are tabling off. It is running against the wall. Things are running off", Hilbeck said, amidst reports that it's deal with Bayer is facing a major hurdle in the US: More than 1 million petition signatures were recently delivered by farming, consumer and environmental groups to the US Department of Justice calling on the department to block the proposed merger of Bayer and Monsanto.
The signatures, said a report, were delivered as two new studies "revealed irreversible impacts from the merger on consumers and farmers", adding, the studies released by Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs and the Open Markets Institute released analysis exploring the implications of how Bayer-Monsanto merger would impact competition and farmer choice, even as "magnify their market power in the seed/agrochemical sector and squeeze farmers and consumers."
Happy that India is refusing to bow down before Monsanto's plea for lower royalties the it should pay tongue government over its seeds, Hilbeck, who addressed media on the sidelines of her address, said, "This is largely because India is a democracy where bottom-up approach has been successful", insisting, however, the knowledge about organic farming without the use of chemical fertilizers remains low among the country's farmers.
India, Hilbeck said, is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international agreement on biosafety as a supplement to the Convention on Biological Diversity effective since 2003, which seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by GM organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.
" Despite regulations, the implementation of the protocol remains weak", Hilbeck said, citing how insecticides on Bt cotton have almost doubled over the last few years. Data she released during her address showed, while insecticides on Bt cotton had been going down after it was introduced in early 2000s, in 2006 it was 4,623 metric tonnes, and reached 7,234 metric tonnes in 2013.
Pointing out that genetical engineering (GE) actually helps profiteer insecticide and fertilizer companies, she said, "Since the first commercial release of GE crops over 20 years ago, four commodity crops containing two types of GE traits produced in the same six countries -- USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, China -- are making up over 90% of all commercial GE plants grown worldwide to this day".
She continued, "Bt cotton in India is the most prominent example with wildly differing claims of success and failure for small holders", even though "deeper analyses show that it benefited 'small holders' at the upper end of the scale, meaning those with larger land holdings, irrigation systems and better education but failed the poorest of the poor and most vulnerable small scale producers on the lower end of the scale with very small holdings and rainfed cotton systems."

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