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Vandana Shiva accuses MNC Monsanto of "genocide" of Indian farmers, says Bt cotton led to death of 3 lakh farmers

By Our Representative
Close on the heels of a top Netherlands report giving a clean chit to the controversial American multinational corporation (MNC) Monsanto, saying the Bt cotton farms using its genetically modified (GM) seeds have negligible child labour compared to those using seeds from Indian companies, one of India's topmost environmentalists Vandana Shiva has sung a totally different tone.
Calling Monsanto a “corrupting, corporate giant”, Shiva says, the MNC has “no respect for the laws of the land” India, blaming it for being responsible for “a genocide” of Indian farmers, resulting in the “death of at least 300,000 of their brothers and sisters between 1995 and 2013, averaging 14,462 per year (1995-2000) and 16,743 per year (2001-2011).”
Shiva, in a well-researched article "We Must End Monsanto's Colonization", says, “This epidemic began in the cotton belt, in Maharashtra, where 53,818 farmers have taken their lives.” Referring to Monsanto’s website, Shiva says, even it admits “that pink bollworm ‘resistance [to Bt] is natural and expected’ and that the resistance to Bt ‘posed a significant threat to the nearly 5 million farmers who were planting the product in India’.”
“Eighty four percent of the farmer suicides have been attributed to Monsanto’s Bt cotton, placing the corporation’s greed and lawlessness at the heart of India’s agrarian crisis”, Shiva says, adding, Monsanto is “undemocratically imposed the false idea of ‘manufacturing’ and ‘inventing’ a seed, undermining robust Indian laws — that do not allow patents on life — and by taking patents on life through international trade law.”
In fact, Shiva claims, Monsanto does not have “a patent for Bt cotton”. Besides, the MNC’s collection of royalties as “trait value” or as a “fee for technology traits” – an intellectual property rights category "concocted by Monsanto lawyers – is illegal”, and the “illegal royalty collections have been collected from the most marginal farmers, pushing them to take their own lives.”
Shiva further says, “The smuggling of a controlled substance without approvals (and thus Monsanto’s very entry into India) is a violation and subversion of India’s Biosafety Regulations. This includes the illegal introduction of GMOs into the food system in India, which poses grave risks to the health of ordinary Indian citizens.”
More recently, Shiva says, Monsanto’s Bt cotton has "found its way into edible vegetable oils in India.” In fact, it notes, “Monsanto’s Bt cotton, without the support of necessary precautions and scientific studies, has illegally found its way into the Indian food chain, endangering the health of 1.26 billion Indians. The health effects of Bt Cotton seed oil in ‘premium vegetable oil’ must be investigated and the damage to people’s health must be compensated by Monsanto.”
Shiva points out, “India’s laws do not permit patents on seeds and in agriculture. But that hasn’t stopped Monsanto from collecting close to USD 900 million from small farmers in India, pushing them into crushing debt. This is roughly the same amount of money Monsanto spent buying The Climate Corporation — a weather big data company — in a bid to control climate data access in the future."
According to Shiva, “Monsanto-Mahyco Biotech Ltd collected royalties for Bt Cotton by going outside the law. "These are just clever names for royalty collection. In 2006, out of the INR 1600 (per 450 grams) price tag, INR 1250 — almost 80 percent—was charged by MMB as the trait value. Compared to Bt cotton, local seeds used to cost INR 5-9 per kg before Monsanto destroyed alternatives, including local hybrid seed supply, through licensing arrangements and acquisitions.”

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