Tag Archives: GM

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.

Research shows NEGATIVE effects in mammals consuming GMOs

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Most “foodies” and concerned Foodfacts.com followers are familiar with the underlying fear of genetic modification (GM) in the worldwide food supply. Why does this subject frighten most? We barely know the effects that this type of engineering may have on our health and well-being. Most crops are much more complicated than a simple seed blooming into a root or flower. Instead, most seeds now have DNA and genomes crossed, or linked, to resist this one pesticide, but absorb this herbicide, and not to produce seeds, etc! Also, because there is not yet a labeling requirement for GMO products, we’re not quite sure what is and isn’t modified. We have little to no control over biotechnology, which leaves us vulnerable.

It is our understanding that different varieties of crops by genetic engineering became available starting in 1996. Currently, about 70 percent of corn, 96 percent of soy, and 80 percent of canola in the US is genetically modified. Unsurprisingly, the also US accounts for two-thirds of all GM crops. Other major players in the biotechnology game are Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and China.

Many people eat GM products, whether they know it or not. Sadly, a large portion of people would recognize the name “Britney Spears” before they recognized a GM company; which they potentially give business to everyday. However, this is because Monsanto and other major biotechnology companies pay to stay out of mainstream media. With their massive revenue and control over most agriculture processes, they are able to persuade government lobbyists to keep them under the radar.

Surprisingly, we’ve come across one study published in 2009 from the International Journal of Biological Sciences shining a negative light on genetic engineering. The interesting part, the trials were done by Monsanto. The European government was able to obtain the raw data to have it scrutinized and further evaluated. Three French scientists conducted a research paper using this data to examine the effects of genetically modified corn on general mammalian health. Three types of commercialized corn were given to rats over a 14 week period. During this time, urine and serum samples were collected to determine and compare physiological effects that occurred.

Researchers found the following results to be possibly associated with glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup; which are highly toxic at very low concentrations to human embryonic kidney cells, and other organs of the body.

- Renal leakage
- Weakened heart muscles
- Diminished liver function
- Elevated triglycerides
- Increased spleen, adrenal gland, heart and kidney weight
… to name a few.

Check out this study and let us know what you think!

http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm