Times of India
reports that multinational biotechnology giant Monsanto attempted to covertly
plant its genetically-modified (GM) corn with no government approval. Nitish
Kumar, chief minister of Bihar, alerted India's environment minister who just a
few days earlier had denied
Monsanto permission to plant the crops at
Outraged when he discovered that Monsanto
had secretly plotted with India's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC)
and the Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) to plant
genetically-modified corn without official approval, Kumar had already written a
letter to India's environment
minister reinforcing his opposition to the GM
corn. Shortly thereafter India's
environment minister asked the GEAC to reverse its December
approval and block Monsanto's GM corn plantings.
Ignoring the mounting
opposition and lack of government approval, Monsanto continued to plant its GM
corn at several locations in Bihar and several other Indian states.
"This is absolutely shocking, coming as it does
under the shadow of the review of Bt brinjal, the first (GM) food crop to be
introduced in India. It is deceitful," said Suman Sahai of Gene Campaign, a
grassroots organization working to protect local control over genetic resources
and food sovereignty. "Permission has been given surreptitiously. This is not
right. We strongly oppose it. The permission should be withdrawn for all States,
not just Bihar."
Monsanto also violated the
"isolation distance" requirements that restrict GM plantings within a certain
distance from non-GM plantings to prevent further contamination. Previous
incidents have revealed that GMOs can very easily contaminate non-GMOs and ruin
the integrity of entire crop fields.
When a German court ordered Monsanto to make public a controversial 90-day
rat study on June 20, 2005, the data upheld claims by prominent scientists who
said that animals fed the genetically modified (GM) corn developed extensive
health problems in their blood, kidneys and liver and that humans eating the
corn may also be at risk.
The 1,139 page research paper also revealed that European regulators
accepted the company's assurances that their corn is safe, in spite of the
unscientific and contradictory rationale that was used to dismiss significant
problems. In addition, the Monsanto generated study is so full of flaws and
omissions, critics say it wouldn't qualify for publication in most journals and
yet it was used as the primary document to evaluate the health impacts.
This is not the end of
the story. Investigations of Monsanto's influence in India will continue and we
will keep you informed.
Lord Rudi C. Loehwing
World Institute of Natural Health Sciences
Lord Rudi C. Loehwing (baron), Managing Director for a non-profit campaign organization; the World Institute of Natural Health Sciences, (WINHS.ORG).
Producer and narrative director of documentary films, radio and television programs. (more...)