Tag Archives: eggplant

India sues Monsanto for “Biopiracy”

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Foodfacts.com brings to you the latest in genetic engineering. Just recently, India has decided to fight against major agribusiness, Monsanto, after the company allegedly genetically modified an eggplant crop without consent. India is considering this as “biopiracy”, and not backing down from this fight. Check it out below!

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Add a new word to your lexicon: Biopiracy.

That’s what U.S.-based agribusiness giant Monsanto has been accused of in India, where the government is planning to charge the company with violating the country’s biodiversity laws over a genetically modified version of eggplant.eggplant

In doing so, India has placed itself at the focal point of the movement to challenge genetically modified crops, which opponents say are destroying traditional crops and threatening farmers’ livelihoods.

“This can send a … message to the big companies [that] they are violating the laws of the nation,” K.S. Sugara of the Karnataka Biodiversity Board told France 24 (see video below). “It is not acceptable … that the farmers in our communities are robbed of the advantage they should get from the indigenous varieties.”

India announced last month it is pursuing charges against Monsanto for “stealing” an indigenous crop — eggplant — and using it to create a modified version without permission, a violation of India’s decade-old Biological Diversity Act. It’s the first prosecution of a company for the act of “biopiracy” in the country, and possibly the world.

At the heart of the issue is the phenomenon of the commercialization of indigenous knowledge. Indian farmers argue that they developed the strains of eggplant grown in India over generations, and Monsanto has no right to come in and build a product out of their own indigenous species.

Monsanto took locally-grown eggplant “without any conformance with the biological diversity act, and therefore it is biopiracy,” said Leo Saldanha, director of the Environmental Support Group, an Indian NGO. Saldanha filed the initial complaint that prompted India to pursue charges.

It is not actually illegal to develop GM foods from indigenous crops in India, but the the government placed a moratorium on eggplant development last year after an outcry from farmers. It’s this moratorium that Monsanto is accused of breaking.

However, in the month since the government announced it intends to file charges, no actual charges have been laid. France24 correspondent Vikram Singh said India may be coming under pressure from Monsanto and other multinationals not to pursue the case.

But Singh said government officials insist they are simply taking their time to build a water-tight case.

Farmers’ opposition to Monsanto and genetically modified crops in India goes back to before the eggplant controversy, and traces its roots at least partly to an earlier controversy about genetically modified cotton.

After successfully introducing GM cotton to India, Monsanto was besieged by bad publicity when a failed crop allegedly caused farmers to commit suicide. Crop failures are common in India, but when the GM cotton crop failed, the farmers growing it were saddled with enormous debt.

By some counts, the suicide toll related to GM crop failure is in the hundreds of thousands, though some observers have challenged that notion.

The company has also been accused of using child labor in its cotton seed production operations.

Monsanto has largely refused to comment to the media about the eggplant controversy, but France24 reported that the company is blaming its Indian sub-contractor for the unauthorized use of eggplant species.

France 24’s Singh said the case “will have ramifications beyond this incident. … It’s hugely important because how they handle this will set precedent for cases in the future.”

The stakes for Monsanto are huge. Besides cotton and eggplant, the company sees an enormous potential market for genetically modified corn in India. The St. Louis-based firm’s sales in India have been growing rapidly in recent years and now stand at around $7 billion per year.

Genetically Modified Eggplant Ban in Philipines?

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:
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MANILA, Philippines – The government should stop field trials in the Philippines on GMO (genetically modified organism) crops, an environmental group said Friday.

Greenpeace International, in a press statement, said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala should “put his words into action” and make sure that GMO crops that have yet to be proven safe are not released into the environment.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia official Daniel Ocampo also urged Alcala to order an investigation into those pushing for field trials of GMOs.

In a media forum in Davao City earlier this week, Alcala is said to have reiterated that he would never give approve planting of genetically engineered “Bt talong,” unless there is a “100 percent guarantee” of its safety.

“Greenpeace is thus questioning why the field trials are still pushing through despite sorely lacking safety processes, the apparent pointlessness of the exercise, and the opposition of so many sectors to these field trials,” Ocampo said.

The genetically modified eggplant allegedly has “built-in pesticide.”

“If Secretary Alcala is really resolute in preventing the spread of unproven GMOs during his term, he should order the immediate halt of these field trials, see for himself how they put other crops at risk, and investigate how the proponents have been skirting around the requirement of doing conclusive risk assessment in confined laboratory conditions and the opposition of farmers, scientists, community groups and even LGUs (local government units) that have already passed ordinances against these field trials,” Ocampo said.

In a public hearing held last week by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food, GMO proponents reportedly failed to show independent risk assessments that are required prior to letting GMO crops out in open fields.

During the hearing, various groups such as farmers-scientists organization MASIPAG, community rights watchdog SEARICE, consumer advocacy group Consumer Rights for Safe Food said poor regulations in the Philippines are allowing rejected GMO technologies from other countries into the country.

This week, the Davao City council reaffirmed its position on a resolution it released last year banning the field trials, by rejecting another appeal by Professor Gerardo Santos of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Mindanao to reconsider the ban.

(ABC News)

Eggplant Allergy

Eggplant Allergy | Foodfacts.com

Eggplant Allergy | Foodfacts.com

Today at Foodfacts.com we read about a mom whose little one seems to have a reaction/allergy to eggplant. We wondered how many people are aware of eggplant as a possible food allergen wondered why we didn’t have a note that eggplant might be a possible allergen. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and thus, an allergen. Continue reading