Monsanto's attempted regulatory coup in India has failed! The approval of Mahyco-Monsanto's GM cotton has been stopped for at least another year.
Congratulations and much admiration to India's farmers' groups and NGOs for the great work they have done and many thanks to everyone around the globe who has been expressing their solidarity through letters to the Indian governement.
Now the focus is on the science fraud behind the attempted regulatory fix - see below.
Continuing letters of protest to the Indian government - focusing now on the science fraud detailed below - will certainly do no harm in strengthening their resistance to the massive multinational pressure they face in the coming 12 months.
ENQUIRY INTO THE DEPARTMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY’S PROMOTION OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEED MNCs
FORUM FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY & FOOD SECURITY
NEW DELHI-110 063, INDIA; Tel: 525 0494; M: 98 1130 1857
New Delhi, June 20,
The Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security, an independent collective of some of well-known and distinguished agricultural scientists, biotechnologists, economists, farmers, and policy makers, has urged the Prime Minister to institute a high-level enquiry into the dubious role of Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of the Ministry of Science and Technology in supporting, promoting and hastily pushing the controversial genetically modified crops onto gullible Indian farmers.
Following the rejection of the seed multinational, MonsantoÃs, application for commercialisation of the genetically modified cotton, popularly called as Bt cotton, based on the trials conducted by its Indian outfit, Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (Mahyco), by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on Tuesday, it has become apparent that the DBT was in league with the multinational in pushing in a faulty technology into India. Bt cotton has already been under large-scale research trials in various States over the past three years.
The approval, if granted by the GEAC, would have paved the way for influx of a large number of genetically manipulated crops into the country ? crops, which do not benefit the farmers. Instead, such crops only ensure further exploitation of the resource-poor farmers and are a grave threat to the environment and human health.
"Much of the experimentation that has been conducted by Mahyco-Monsanto for the past three years has not been on scientific lines. The mere fact that such seriously flawed statistical data was approved by the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) and the Review Committee on Genetic manipulation (RCGM), both constituted by the DBT, points a finger towards the competence of the scientists. This is a clear cut case of scientific fraud," Devinder Sharma, chair of the Forum said in a statement.
"The research trials were sown two months late in 1999, and three months late in 2000 and yet the committees as well as the DBT found that to be in order is a clear pointer to the dubious way in which the genetically-modified crop is being pushed in the name of science and technology," Sharma said, and added "this is a fraud on the nation, and needs to be enquired by a high-level committee."
There were several other glaring lapses. More importantly, the fact that the entire data was being kept classified, is an indication that the DBT was reluctant to make it public for fear of exposure of its wrong doings. Interestingly, the secretary of the DBT, Mrs Manju Sharma, has been openly stating for the past three years that the department would be releasing the genetically modified seeds of cotton for general commercialisation in 2001, even before the trials were being conducted. This demonstrates that the DBT was keen to bring in an untested technology to India.
In view of the great scientific fraud that has been unearthed, the Forum demands:
* Immediate removal of the Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, for promoting the unjust cause of the multinational and private seed companies in the name of promoting science and technology.
* A high-level inquiry into the working of the Department of Biotechnology. The department is busy according permission to all kinds of genetically modified crops for testing.
* Disbanding of the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) and the Review Committee on Genetic manipulation (RCGM). Both these committees had deliberately overlooked and manipulated the faulty data in a completely ëunscientificÃ manner.
* Expansion of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) to include environmentalists, activists and peopleÃs representatives to make it more broad based and accountable.
* Re-experimentation to be for TWO years considering that the data supplied by the company for two years ? 1999 and 2000 ? is faulty and cannot be scientifically accepted. Also, immediate need for long-term studies on environment and human and animal health risks before according any commercial approval.
* Blacklisting of Mahyco-Monsanto seed company for mis-representing the facts and making false claims. The company had all along claimed that its research trials were according to the guidelines and the rules and regulations. Serious doubts have been cast by GEAC on the veracity of Mahyco’s claims.
* Removal of MahycoÃs representatives from the numerous committees and boards of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the governing board of the international agricultural research centres, and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).