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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/14/08

Will the World Survive GM Cultures and the Damage to the Earth's Eco-Systems?

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Crossposted from Axis of Logic

Monsanto and the other major biotech companies – Syngenta, Bunge, Cargill, etc. – are all set on owning the world's food supply. Monsanto is by far the leader in this nightmare of destroying organic agriculture and millennia-old biodiversity.

They have no respect whatsoever for the lives and the livelihood of farmers or, for that matter, any concern for the people who are exposed to severe health hazards from eating genetically modified foods. Corporate profit is all that counts.

The greatest long-lasting danger from GMOs is the destruction of the earth's eco-systems – the degradation of the soil, the depletion of water resources and the proliferation of pests that were until now barely known, since they were kept under control by the natural balance of predatory insects keeping those that are harmful to the crops from having their potentially damaging effect. More later about this natural equilibrium.

The bio-tech industries have taken a big and dangerous step towards destroying the earth as it has been known for thousands of years. Organic agriculture, biodiversity and natural pest control have made the earth a place for sustainable farming for millennia. However, at this point of delicate balance for the earth's survival, bio-tech corporations want to put an end to everything that is natural in order to make short-term profit from huge monocultures of the genetically modified products that they are falsely marketing as our saviors from world hunger and poverty.[1]

India is one country that has been severely hit by the bio-tech industry with accompanying disasters.

What follows after the farmers change over to GMO seeds after millennia of planting and making a livelihood in organic farming is a horror story of bad harvests, huge debts, increased costs for herbicides and fertilizers (in spite of the companies' promises of lower costs), and the suicides of thousands of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala – among the Indian states that are hit the worst.

This has been going on for decades and if it were not for a lot of activism being focused on this problem, there is no chance that anything would change, since the corporations are tied in firmly with the governments in the heavy-handed corporatism that rules the world today. The farmers are lured into buying the GM seeds because of low-interest loans and obscene propaganda about giant harvests, less work and lower costs. Bio-tech PR claims there is no need for pesticides and less need for fertilizers, all of which has proved to be inaccurate. Added to this, these seeds are not adjusted to the eco-systems where they are being planted. They frequently need more water than is available and the results are disastrous.

One woman is in the forefront of the fight against the bio-tech industry. Her name is Vandana Shiva and she is based in Delhi.

Dr. Vandana Shiva, a former particle physicist, has for the past three decades done more than anyone else as an activist to attract the attention of the world to the deadly corporate horror story of genetically modified products. She attacks the problem from all angles, educating and organizing protest demonstrations through her organization Navdanya.

Navdanya means “nine seeds”, and is a movement promoting diversity – fighting against the privatization of water, campaigning against Basmati biopiracy and generally leading a fight for the rights of rural farmers to a decent livelihood, uncompromised through biopiracy such as is taking place in India and all over the world. Biodiversity, the way farmers have been cultivating the land for millennia is her central argument and monocultures at the giant industrial farms are her principal enemy. She talks about food fascism and the bio-tech industry see her as their most prominent enemy in their vicious attempt of controlling the world's food supply.

Vandana Shiva says on her Navdanya website:

"When I found that dominant science and technology served the interests of [the] powerful, I left academics to found the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), a participatory, public interest research organisation.

"When I found global corporations wanted to patent seeds, crops or life forms, I started Navdanya to protect biodiversity, defend farmers' rights and promote organic farming. "Navdanya/RFSTE's journey over the past two decades has taken us into creating markets for farmers and promoting tasty, healthy, high quality food for consumers. We have connected the seed to the kitchen, biodiversity to gastronomy. And now we have joined hands with Slow Food to celebrate the quality and cultural diversity of our food."
SIU [2] magazine writes about Vandana Shiva:
"In fact, listening to her may make you rethink many of the world’s established social and political paradigms.
"For example, the generally acknowledged argument that the Green Revolution, at the very least, led to an increase in food production is one of them. 'No, it did not increase production. Wheat and rice production increased, not the overall food production,' argues Shiva, and launches into a lecture that concludes that whatever increase there was had nothing whatsoever to do with the Green Revolution, and that overall it has been a disaster for agriculture and food security in India."

The Mealy Bug, the deadly gift from Monsanto

The latest horror news on GMOs is the Mealy Bug that has been said to be "the deadly gift from Monsanto to Vidarbha, set to destroy all crops and plants". Vidarbha is the eastern part of Maharashtra state, in western India. It is India's most developed and urbanized state.

In a press note Kishor Tiwari, President of 'Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti' – a farmers advocacy group – writes that the Mealy Bug is a virus that is imported with the Bt Cotton sold by multinational corporation Monsanto. In the coming summer season it will have an effect on a larger area covering almost all crops and next year it will be set to destroy not only cotton crops but all other food crops as well.

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Siv O'Neall was born and raised in Sweden where she graduated from Lund University. She has lived in Paris, France and New Rochelle, N.Y. and traveled extensively throughout the U.S, Europe, and other continents, including several trips to (more...)

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