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Press Release

Stop Monsanto’s crimes! Indian farmers call for ‘Monsanto Quit India’ and demand of government to not only regulate prices of Bt cotton seed but ban Bt Cotton

By Indra Shekhar Singh

Farmers support government’s decision to control Bt cotton seed price and demand ban on Bt cotton and GMOS.

New Delhi: Farmers’ groups from all over India submitted a declaration in support of the Agricultural Ministry’s decision to regulate the price of Bt Cotton Seed at Shashtri Bhavan on Wednesday. The declaration was signed by over 30,000 farmers and was presented to Deputy Commissioner D S Misra at the ministry at 12.30 pm. The declaration asked the government to regulate the price of Bt Cotton seed immediately and to further ban all GMOs including GM mustard.

On May 18th, the ministry had issued an order to stop the exploitation of Indian farmers by Monsanto by regulating the price of Bt Cotton seed. On May 22nd, the agriculture ministry invited the farmers and civil society to respond to the issue of price control in a period of 90 days.

The group of farmers was joined by renowned environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva outside the ministry. The farmers had welcomed the regulation of Bt cotton prices and have come out to stop the illegal royalty collection by Monsanto. The farmers were appalled by the 300,000 farmers suicide since ’95. There was a huge discontentment among farmers as they knew that 80% of the suicides were caused by the debt created by Bt Cotton. Rakesh Singh, organic farmer from West UP stated, “Bt cotton has already caused havoc in Vidharba and more recently in Punjab. If other GM crops are allowed, Indian farmers will become indentured servants of corporations like Monsanto. We demand the government recognises this threat to our livelihoods and our lives.” Dr. Shiva leant support to the farmers and appealed to the government to ban Bt cotton, which has been described by the Maharashtra Task force on Agrarian distress as a “killer crop”. Dr. Shiva stated that “Monsanto’s hallucinations have a very high cost to India’s freedom and the lives of Indian farmers. Farmers are dying each day due to debt, soils and water are being mindlessly mined and it is evident to everyone that Bt Cotton has a big role in the drought of Vidharba and Marathwada. The Maharashtra government Task Force on Agrarian Distress has called Bt cotton a killer crop and asked for its ban. Not only should Bt GMOs be banned, Monsanto a criminal corporation should be banned from selling there poisons Round up/ Glyphosate and poison producing plants like Bt cotton. There is no place for GMOs in an Organic India. Monsanto and its GMOs violate every Indian farmers Bija swaraj and Anna Swaraj.” She further said, “As India completes her 70th year of Independence, we recognise Bija swaraj as every Indians’ birth right. We vehemently oppose any agency, corporation that comes to impose seed slavery, and Seed ‘Raj’ on Indian farms and villages. Monsanto has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers and has destroyed traditional ways of agriculture and biodiversity wherever it has introduced the monocultures of it’s Bt cotton seeds or spread carcinogenic substances such as Glyphosate. Contrary to its promise, Bt Cotton has not controlled pests but given rise to newer pests, increasing the use of pesticides, which is trapping rural India into deeper debt.”

The Declaration further asks the government to recognise the Bija swaraj/ seed sovereignty as the right of farmers in order to prevent the exploitation of rural Indian farmers at the hand of fraudulent corporations. The government should act sternly with corporations that are trying to loot the Indian farmers and should prevent seed monopolies from being created. The seed is vital for the livelihood of over 50% of India. Hence the government thus has a moral and constitutional duty to regulate the prices of all seeds. The government should also ensure that traditional knowledge and seeds are treasured as a commons. India should not accept the corporation friendly IPR regimes of rogue countries such as the USA in order to maintain her integrity and safeguard India’s common heritage.

Monsanto in India illegally brought GMO cotton seeds to India in 1995. In 1998, Monsanto illegally tried to introduce its GMO Bt Cotton seeds to Indian farmers. Navdanya and Research Foundation for Science and the Environment started the Monsanto Quit India movement and also challenged the introduction in the Supreme Court. Monsanto got the approval to sell GMO Bt Cotton seeds in India in 2002, from which they started to illegally collect royalties even though Monsanto had no patents on Bollgard 1. The price of seeds jumped 80000% overnight. The high price of seeds trapped farmers in debt and pushed them to a suicide.

More that 300000 farmers have committed suicide in India since the introduction of Bt cotton in 1995. In March 2016, the government of India finally took action and passed th order to regulate seed prices and royalties. Monsanto challenged the order in the Delhi and Karnataka High Courts. Monsanto’s case was dismissed in Delhi and later dismissed in Karnataka after Navdanya worked with Farmers’s movements in the Karnataka case. Monsanto’s arguments go against India’s constitution and against the Plant Variety Protections and Farmers’ Rights Act. The constitution gives the government the power through the Essential Commodities Act to regulate the prices of essential commodities such as seeds. This is the basis of the seed price control order. Monsanto’s insane arguments are that the government has no rights to make laws and protect the rights of farmers and that seed doesn’t fall under the Essential Commodities Act and finally that Bt cotton seed is not a cotton seed in the traditional sense.

Through our efforts over 30 years, Navdanya has protected seed heritage with countless numbers of indigenous seed savers and communities. Navdanya can now provide farmers of Punjab and Vidharba desi seeds to prevent the takeover of Bt cotton. Bt cotton acreage has reduced 27 % this year and we want to make sure it comes down to 0%. In the meantime, Monsanto should be made liable for its crimes and fraud against Indian farmers and the nation. For the last two decades Monsanto has sabotaged our democracy, sovereignty, seed sovereignty and food sovereignty. The consequences of which are suffered each day by 300 000 widows, and hundreds of thousands of orphaned children.

Also read:

Why the government is right in controlling the price of Monsanto’s Bt cotton seeds

By Dr Vandana Shiva –, 22 August 2016

Press coverage

Farmers ask govt to ban Monsanto in India

Millenium Post, 18 August 2016

India Today, 17 August 2016

The Asian Age

18 August 2016

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Monsanto Quit India at Allahabad

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