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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monsanto – will one planet suffice?

The (in)famous Henry Kissinger once said: "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people." The new world’s corporate villain has taken this too seriously and is venturing to control every grain and through it, farmers across the globe. Small wonder that their vision statement is - “No Food Shall Be Grown That We Don’t Own”.

That is Monsanto, the perma villain, for us! This agri-chemical business company from the US is the largest seed company in the world today. Huge share of Genetically Modified seeds across the globe is theirs. It should be clearly understood at the outset that they have no fancy to feed the world, eliminate hunger or help the farmers with seeds of high yield. Their motive is to simply monopolise food supply across the globe- in any manner, no matter what the irrevocable cost to the health of humans or the environment.

Monsanto, with their first product Saccharine (Yes the artificial sweetener) set the trend for the increasingly ecologically harmful products to follow. In comparison with where they are today, pushing Genetically Modified food, it was a comparatively benign beginning. From Saccharine they ‘graduated’ to basic industrial chemicals followed by synthetic fibres and plastics, including polystyrene, the production of which generates some of the most hazardous waste. Then came the notorious and destructive Agent Orange from which the user and the used are still suffering. Agent Orange which was used liberally in Vietnam War had very high concentrations of dioxin and is proven to cause birth deformities.

This Goliath corporate then began concentrating on the manufacture and ruthless marketing of chemical pesticides, herbicides and the dubious Bovine growth hormone. The latest and ecologically most harmful in their “product line” is Genetically Modified seeds. Monsanto has single handedly been responsible – through the production and widespread use of its products – for some of the most widespread contamination of earth’s water, air and soil.

Monsanto markets Genetically Modified seeds under the dual pretext that GM seeds are the panacea for world hunger and that it reduces the need for pesticides or for crops to withstand herbicide usage. The claim on yield and ability to address world hunger is patently false and Monsanto as well as other GM manufacturers are well aware of the same. Similarly, chemical usage went up with GM crops and ‘super weeds’ are becoming a reality. This marketing style is nothing new to the industry. Before GM technology, fertilizer and pesticide manufacturers marketed their chemical products as THE panacea for world hunger. In reality, conventional (chemical) agriculture did nothing but start a chain of destruction to the health of everything on planet earth – all fauna, flora and microbial life in the soil. Harmful pesticidal residues can today be found in everything from the umbilical cord of newborn infants to ice in the polar caps.. The Green Revolution, at best, should have been a short term tactical solution to tide over a crisis and not a strategic long term ‘opportunity’ to fill corporate coffers.

The same companies that unscrupulously started the environmental catastrophe with chemical farming are now pushing a new technology – Genetically engineered food with tall claims about saving humanity from the very problems they created in the first place. The products of this new technology are neither proven to be safe for human consumption nor can they be contained once unleashed. With the interference at the genetic level, humans are irresponsibly meddling in unpredictable ways with the slow safe ways of natural evolution. While the green revolution introduced “killer” chemicals into the environment genetic modification goes a huge step further and tampers with the very genetic structure of the end product that we eat – fruits and vegetables. This in turn could spawn off harmful effects in every species that consumes this.

GMO foods not only affect health and environment or the safety, security & livelihood issues but end up making irrevocable changes. Such irreversible change will result not only in health loss but loss of traditional varieties, livelihood, bio-diversity and seed sovereignty.

It’s no wonder that traditional seeds of soyabean, cotton and corn in the US can no longer be found. Marketing strategies ensure that all such non-GM seeds are unavailable now and farmers have no choices left.The same is the fate of cotton in India. In essence the wily company controls the seed well after the farmer has bought, planted and harvested. Their one sided agreements, contracts and patents ensured that farmers can’t save seeds in traditional ways (how easy to kill a 10000+ year old tradition!) but only buy seeds from Monsanto season after season!
Today contamination of seeds (cross or otherwise) is a big concern world wide. No certification of traditional seeds is possible today as was ascertained in Canada, Mexico and elsewhere. Non BT seeds in cotton crop India are not easily available today. Veteran Indian organic farmers confirm that parental lines of traditional cotton have been contaminated by BT.

Earlier, Monsanto had the audacity to declare a product like their weedicide Roundup (whose main ingredient is glyphosate – a proven toxin for animals and humans) “Safer than table salt, Practically non toxic, Biodegradable, Helps produce higher crop yield”! Infact it took a court verdict to force them to remove these false claims from their labels.
That’s not the only occasion that they have been caught lying or mislabeling. Such a careless attitude towards society, ecology and truth has been a way of life for this Goliath corporate.

So when Monsanto decided to market their new synthetic poison called the rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), they went on a carefree advertisement spree. How the FDA gave such a proven carcinogen a go ahead inspite of major safety concerns is material enough for another article. The risk of breast, colon and prostrate cancer was so pronounced and still the perma villain not only went ahead with active marketing but sued dairy farmers for publishing the truth about their milk being rBGH-free!
That they even twisted the rules in such a way that the non-GM or GM free food could not display that fact on their packs, showed how farcical the regulation and monitoring can be.
Monsanto sued so many small farmers for seed patent and in most cases the farmers relented to settle out of court since they could not have carried on the cases against this organized vendetta. Thus this Goliath corporate amassed wealth even without selling.

Monsanto has filed thousands of lawsuits against hundreds of farmers across the world and has used heavy-handed investigations and ruthless prosecutions that have fundamentally changed the way many American farmers farm. In the USA, Centre for Food Safety has taken up investigations into this anti-farmer behaviour of Monsanto and brought facts to light..

Such is the infamous route pursued by this Goliath corporation that lies, omissions, commissions, sleaze, false statements, human rights violation, illegal dumping, wantonness, trespass, political maneuver, willful wrong approvals, bribery, falsification of data, willful submission of wrong data and contents to pass various regulations, twisting and tampering test data, wrong labeling were all the order of the day.

Monsanto has an established history of unscrupulous behaviour packed with law suits that went against them too. Sample here:

• The law suit they lost in Anniston, Alabama, for dumping of dioxin and PCB
• $180 million settlement made to Vietnam war veterans exposed to Agent Orange
• Fine of $1.2 million in 1991 for trying to conceal the discharge of contaminated wastewater, and $41.1 million to a waste management company in Texas in 1995 due to concerns over hazardous waste dumping.
• According to William Sanjour, who led the Toxic Waste Division of the Environmental Protection Agency, "thousands of veterans were disallowed benefits" because "Monsanto studies showed that dioxin [the main ingredient in Agent Orange] was not a human carcinogen." But his EPA colleague discovered that Monsanto had allegedly falsified the data in their studies. Sanjour says, "If they were done correctly, [the studies] would have reached just the opposite result."
The perma villain callously and willfully pumped persistent pollutants posing serious risk to the environment and human health, where ever they operated, with minimal concern for law or ecology. The Goliath has flouted all health regulations with disdain. One might be tempted to ask if they learnt from these costly mistakes. Yes the perma villain did- How?
By turning a blind eye to the environmental impact and then graduating to dictating to the law makers and twisting the law in their favour.

Monsanto's people regularly infiltrate upper echelons of government, and the company offers prominent positions to officials when they leave public service. This revolving door has included key people in the White House, regulatory agencies, even the Supreme Court. Monsanto also had George Bush Senior on their side, as evidenced by footage of Vice President Bush at Monsanto's facility offering help to get their products through government bureaucracy. He says, "Call me. We're in the 'de-reg' business. Maybe we can help." Their revolving door strategy has been exposed multiple times.

Their revolving door strategy with the powers-that-be both in the States and other countries is well established and covered many times over, that its no more a surprise. The way they twist the FDA’s rules or the health department and get away is no more news.
Michael Taylor, former Monsanto Vice President, became the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center, later became the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Islam Siddiqui, Vice President of the Monsanto and Dupont-funded pesticide-promoting lobbying grop, CropLife, is the Agriculture Negotiator for the US Trade Representative.
Linda J. Fisher, toggled between Monanto and EPA.
Lidia Watrud, former microbial biotechnology researcher at Monsanto Corporation in St. Louis, was later with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Effects Laboratory, Western Ecology Division.
Suzanne Sechen, before coming to the FDA, had done research for several Monsanto-funded rBGH studies as a graduate student at Cornell University.
Margaret Miller, former chemical laboratory supervisor for Monsanto, later was Deputy Director of Human Food Safety and Consultative Services.

In case of GMOs the problem Monsanto faced was that it was inherently unsafe. GMOs can create dangerous side effects. They bypassed lots of safety regulations. That was the overwhelming consensus by FDA scientists, according to 44,000 agency documents made public from a lawsuit. But the most important document, FDA's official policy, claimed that GMOs were not substantially different. They were granted the status "Generally Recognized as Safe," even though they failed to meet the normal criteria. Thus, no safety testing is necessary. If Monsanto declares their GM products safe, the FDA has no further questions. Former FDA biotech coordinator James Maryanski admits on camera that the GMO policy "was a political decision," not scientific. In fact, FDA political appointee Michael Taylor was in charge of the policy. Taylor was formerly Monsanto's attorney and later their vice president.
In Mexico there were these bizarre shaped corn plants that were found in the wild. When analysed these turned out to be genetically engineered! Obviously scientists’ observation across the globe that ‘cross pollination from GM ones to traditional varieties can disturb the offspring’ has been proven. Community organizer Aldo Gonzales says . "If we don't manage to stop their spread in our fields, soon we'll be forced to buy our corn seed because our own won't work anymore?" Gonzales wonders if the contamination was intentional. He says, "Contamination only benefits multinationals like Monsanto."
In Canada, the canola and other experiences have pointed out the fact that GMO and Monsanto itself is unsafe for the humanity.

In India, BT cotton proved to be a disaster. There are many reports proving the canards of yield. There have been cases where cattle and humans have been affected badly. So have the soil and water. All this with their patently false claim that ‘less chemicals, pesticides will be required’ being just that- blatant lie. In Andhra Pradesh, where 71 percent of farmers who used Bt cotton ended up with financial losses, farmers attacked the seed dealer's office and even "tied up Mahyco Monsanto representatives in their villages," until the police rescued them. In spite of great losses and unreliable yields, Monsanto has skillfully eliminated the availability of non-GM cotton seeds in many regions throughout India, forcing farmers to buy their varieties. Farmers borrow heavily and at high interest rates to pay multiple times the price for the GM varieties, along with the chemicals needed to grow them. When Bt cotton performs poorly and can't even pay back the debt, desperate farmers resort to suicide, often drinking unused pesticides. The UK Daily Mail estimates that the total number of Bt cotton-related suicides in India is a staggering 125,000. . Monsanto’s own admission that BT cotton (Bollgard I) has indeed failed should only be a ploy to actively market its recent versions of II and III which are obviously more expensive.

Europe standing up against the GM seeds and food has been a solace to the humanity. Many times the large quantities of grains or processed food that were Genetically Modified have been rejected by European nations resulting in loss to the new converts of Monsanto. Many European nations have been steadfast in their opposition to the GM trials and even uprooted or disallowed such trials, which is a greater consolation and service. But Monsanto being Monsanto pushes its agenda through Bushes, Obamas and the Governments as the recent wikileaks proved. There is a great reason for Europe to stand up to these pressures and not only save themselves but the whole world, especially with US government throwing its weight behind Monsanto and GMO.
Seed continuity has been a simple system for close to 10000 years now.
Patenting (and genetically modifying too) the seed is no less than organized crime and this can only be out of corporate greed and ravenousness that can be camouflaged as corporate strategy and market plan. The quest to monopolise the seed market leading to displacing (in any fashion) the natural seeds and traditional conservation is so high that it needs a check. The canards like ‘feed the world’, ‘higher yield’, ‘lessen pesticide usage’ ‘safe to consume’ etc are sheer deception techniques to push their profit and market share.
Goliath corporations like Monsanto should never be a part of any civilized society nor should any cultured community tolerate their products or their ways.

Monsanto-ising Indian agriculture by Kavitha Kuruganti
Jeffrey M Smith, “Monsanto: The world’s poster child for corporate manipulation and deceit”
Monsanto Vs. US Farmers, A report by the Centre for Food Safety, Washington, 2005

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chasing Monsanto in German(y)

I love their blood, I shud confess..
Monsanto IMO is the perma villain..ofcourse they might be one of the few other seed giant or GM sellimg firms, but somehow they seem to be the most wily of all..
Their ways in India and else where prove that..
In US they have done enough damage already..
There are many who really go after them in the west..Millions against Monsanto is one such initiative and if u live there in the west esp in US do go out and help this campaign in all ways possible..

Now see here:

for an article that I penned for this German mag..
the English version will be out here as next post..
but till then try and make what you can out of it:-)

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

one oganic mela to another

There was a call from one Professor in K.S. Rangasamy College of Technology, Tiruchengode asking restore to participate in their organic mela.. what? organic mela in some remote town?? hmm..when i probed more, i was told some 20000 students and 2000 staff live out of that huge campus! They had planned an organic mela inviting 100s of organic farmers, organic shops and others..They had planned a big organic food mela- many traditional recipes esp out of millets; many stalls displaying organic produce and selling too; many talks and seminars involving many stalwarts from organic movement.

Very laudable indeed. ofcourse I rushed out there just after our Organic mela at Chennai. I was happy to be there. The enthusiasm of the students was fantastic. The efforts behind were clearly visible. I was told that the students had moved all over Tamil nadu to arrange the full range of organic produce including fruits to help put their juice stalls, millets to showcase the various recipes and so on..
Hats off to the whole team! the college and their management too for their interest and infrastructure.

Its a great achievement am sure and I do wish they continue this effort every year..and that it grows in stature and popularity.
Kudos to Prof. Guruswamy, the college and all the students!


Chennai Organic mela!

The mela went on well.. the shamiana guys came late and screwed it a bit..but though we were delayed to kick off (what we had in mind which was 3pm) we were right as per the announced time (4pm)..

the big take home is that there was new crowds..lots of them...some 2000 who came to the semmozhi poonga were spoken to and show cased the benefits of organic and ills of pesticides, GM food etc.

We could have made it better by coordinating better, with more give away prints, better equipped sound system and baashans, bringing more press and celebrities..
on the last 2 we tried enough but it failed:-9

Iam told there was a mention in tamil daily Dinamani..some assured coverage from Kalki and Vikatan..
meanwhile see here:

Now to more such melas in Chennai and other parts of TN!
way to go SFA!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

do drop in if in Madras! on 19th satday evening!

Invites you to

(Site of the old Woodlands Drive-in restaurant, near Gemini flyover)
TIME: 3 pm to 8 pm

Do you believe that your right to safe food is a basic right and the very food that you eat to sustain yourself should not become toxic and hazardous?

The event will feature
- Fresh healthy Organic millet dishes to savour!
- Diversity of traditional seed varieties – interaction with farmers who conserve such diversity
- Information and sale of traditional millets and rices
- A focus on harmful pesticides and alternatives to these
- Information on the status of GM crops in India, implications and alternatives
- Hands on Natural Dyeing experience!
- Organic cotton handwoven shirts & kurtas on sale.
- Interactions with prominent personalities from different walks of life – activists, farmers, cine-stars, musicians and others.
- Related publications
The event is being organized to mark the occasion of World Consumer Rights Day. This year, SFA, restore and many other organizations have joined together to highlight

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Press meet on 15th march at Chennai press club!

see here for some press mention..of the press meet organised SFA (Safe Food Alliance)on 15th..
u can see the fotos of the tokris here:!

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

shameless Pawar!

Its very tuff to find as shameless a person even among politicos..There was a time he was touted to be the the maximum 'earner' among sure he shud still be leading that list!
Here is a man sticking to politics beyond a sell-by date (age, effectiveness every wise) and also stretches his tentacles in to other arenas like cricket..
Many think he is dedicating his time for cricket and is not concentrating on agri..he hee..NO..he is as ineffective and damaging to cricket as much to agri..
only solace is - his screwing up cricket is good for nation:-)

Here see these 2 and here!
he shamelessly admits that many banned and very hazardous pesticides are used..he even admits proudly "yes,Endosulfan is banned in many countries. yes its harmful.. but being used in India"..such is our polity..

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

cotton trail - another story!

As told before, KK had written an article in deccan herald..on the same Jayadhar cotton trail that we saw a few days back (here)..very nice and crisp one..
see here!

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Cane them!

yeah! cane them apart..
people coming standing in queues from previous night and wanting to watch cricket every venue this is the status..

firstly there is so much lacking in drinking and above this is the security has to denude to enter the ground..
where is the fun to watch a match after all this??
and why do people flock shamelessly still??

yes, I was a shameless fellow and used to follow the team..atleast then it was only long queues and never caning..for sure, under these circumstances its better to avoid going to the ground..
even better is to shrug off this disease called cricket (like me!!) and be productive..atleast your family will be happy..

iam happy that i didnt even know when the world cup started..Though I did watch the India-England match with friends at bangalore (at home not ground) more to catch up old memories..

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Sunday, March 06, 2011

what do i do with my wife now?

Please advice guys..
The state highway was a party to it.. my co-travelers were too..
there were many more who saw it too:-(

i was driving from Bangalore to madras today..(ofcourse for a very important event which shall feature as a separate post here)

and suddenly I am asked to read this gem of a board.. one of the many such 'gems' on display all the way..
it read "if you want to stay married, divorce speed"
and lemme confess- at that instant I was speeding..

now all u readers tell me what to so with my W?
and if you say the right answer you shall be peppered with more such gems
else like the Vetal (or is it betal of the vikramaditya) I shall return to blore and I shall pepper u with more bcos i wud anyways notice more on my way back..