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GM Trojan horse

Colin Todhunter, Aug 11, 2014: 23:53 IST
Genetically-modified organisms now represent the stranglehold over food via ‘terminator’ seed technology, seed patenting and IPR.

On 15 August, India will mark its 67th anniversary of Independence from Britain. However, the reality is an ongoing, concerted attempt to undermine and destroy the very foundation, independence and security of the country.

The bedrock of any society is its agriculture. Without food there can be no life. Without food security, there can be no genuine independence. A recent report by the organisation GRAIN revealed that small farms produce most of the world’s food and are more productively efficient than large farms.

Facilitated by an appropriate policy framework, small farmers could easily feed the global population. But small farmers are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland and the world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of big agribusiness and the rich and powerful. If nothing is done to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.

By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Corporations take over scarce fertile land and prioritise non-food commodities or export crops for profit and markets far away that cater for the needs of the affluent.

This process impoverishes local communities and brings about food insecurity. An area eight times the size of Britain was bought or leased across the developing world between 2000 and 2011, often at the expense of local food security and land rights. This trend could eventually result in the permanent shift of farm ownership from family businesses to institutional investors and other consolidated corporate operations.

In India, small farms form the bedrock of food production, but hundreds of thousands have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic liberalisation.

Monsanto already controls the cotton industry in India and is increasingly shaping agri-policy and the knowledge paradigm by funding agricultural research in public universities and institutes. Regulatory bodies are now severely compromised and riddled with conflicts of interest where decision-making over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are concerned.

The GM biotech sector forwards the myth that GMOs are necessary to feed the world’s burgeoning population. They are not. Aside from the review by GRAIN, the World Bank-funded International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge and Science for Development Report stated that small holder, traditional farming (not GMOs) can deliver food security in low-income countries through sustainable agri-ecological systems.

The Standing Committee on Agriculture in Parliament unequivocally concluded that GM seeds and foods are dangerous to human, animal and environmental health and directed the then government of Manmohan Singh to ban GMOs. Despite such evidence and the recommendations to put a hold on open field GM trials by the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee, the push is on within official circles to give such trials the green light.

The GM biotech sector cannot be trusted. Its largest player is responsible for knowingly damaging people’s health and polluting the environment with products such as PCBs, Dioxins, Agent Orange and aspartame, and is guilty of numerous duplicitous and criminal practices.

The sector attempts to control the ‘science’ around its products by carrying out inadequate, secretive studies of its own, placing restrictions on any independent research into its products and censoring findings that indicate the deleterious impacts of its products. It has also engaged in attacking scientists who reach conclusions not to its liking. Independent studies and evidence have indicated yields are often worse with GMOs, herbicide use has increased, health is negatively impacted, soil is damaged and biodiversity is undermined, among other things.

Around 56 per cent of Russia’s agricultural output comes from family farms, which occupy less than 9 per cent of arable land. Russia does not need or want GM crops, which the Russian Prime Minister has described as amounting to little more than a form of biological warfare weapon. And here lies the real heart of the matter. Henry Kissinger once said that if you control oil you control nations, but if you control food you control people. GMOs are not needed to feed the world. They are a weapon.

Small farms

In India, there is a drive to remove small farms and eventually replace them with larger biotech-controlled monoculture farms with GM crops for Western styled processed-food supermarkets and export. It is no surprise that the likes of Syngenta, Monsanto and Walmart had a direct hand in drawing up the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, which was in turn linked to the US sanctioning the opening up of India’s nuclear power sector.

US corporations are now actively involved in helping India develop its civil nuclear capabilities. Payback appears to come in the form of handing over the control of India’s agricultural land and food system to the US via that country’s biotech companies.

The oil-rich Rockefeller family set out to control global agriculture via the petrochemical-dependent ‘green revolution’. The destruction of traditional farmer-controlled agriculture was actively supported by the US government and its Trojan horse agritech corporations. GMOs now represent the ultimate stranglehold over food via ‘terminator’ seed technology, seed patenting and intellectual property rights.

Certain anti-GMO activists and civil organisations in India are accused of working against the national interest by colluding with foreign interests to undermine ‘development’. The state itself has for a long time been colluding with foreign interests to undermine the basis of traditional agriculture.

Independence is much more than military might, patriotic slogans and a self-congratulatory media-induced frenzy on a designated day each year. Russia is actively committed to putting the GMO genie back in the bottle. Why isn’t India?

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