The Great Seed Robbery

In “The Great Seed Robbery” by Vandana Shiva, Published: Jul. 27, 2011, a very simple explanation is given as to why Genetically Modified Organisms – GMO – are destroying not only human health, but human fragile but sustainable ecology and societies.

I don’t know how reliable this number is, but if “200,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since corporate takeover of seed started as a result of globalization”, then I beleive these seeds as well as the Monsanto product Round-Up spread on them, should have a warning stating: “has been consistently leading to suicide”.

Please help spreading the information. It is not only happening “over there”, but right here at home too. We are just not being informed by the media about what we need to know. We are bombarded with useless fights and disagreements at court, financial and political levels fomented by hidden 3rd parties who carefully create a smoke screen around their criminal acts.

Please read this article about “the great seed robbery occuring all over our only planet. Let your friends and family become aware of what is really happening to them, and leave a comment with your known facts.

“The seed, the source of life, the embodiment of our biological and cultural diversity, the link between the past and the future of evolution, the common property of past, present and future generations of farming communities who have been seed breeders is today being stolen from the farmers and being sold back to us as “propriety” seed, owned by corporations like Monsanto.

Under pressure of the Prime Minister’s Office (which in turn is under the pressure of the White House because of signing the U.S–India Agriculture Agreement) the States are signing MOU’s with seed corporations to privatise our rich and diverse genetic heritage. The Government of Rajasthan has signed seven MOU’s with Monsanto, Advanta, DCM-Sriram, Kanchan Jyoti Agro Industries, PHI Seeds Pvt. Ltd, Krishidhan Seeds and J.K. Agri Genetics.

While what is being undertaken is a great seed robbery under the supervision of the State, it is being called PPP – Private Public Partnership.

The MOU with Monsanto focuses on Maize, Cotton, and vegetables (hot pepper, tomato, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower, water melon). It will in effect hand over to Monsanto millennia of breeding by farmers. The State will subsidize Monsanto’s breeding. It will allow Monsanto’s propaganda to replace extension by promoting “awareness building activities under Monsanto’s “gurukulam” training package with recommended package of practices for Rajasthan”. The State infrastructure will thus function for promotional activities of the companies. The private companies seed distribution will be based on “seed supply and distribution arrangements involving leverage of extensive government – owned network”. Thus farmers’ varieties will be replaced by increasing “Seed Replacement Rate” – which in effect erases in one season million of years of evolution and thousands of years of farmers breeding. Instead of breeding and distributing public varieties, the state agriculture universities are acting against their public mandate and violating the public interst by facilitating the privatization of the seed supply. Brainwashing by Monsanto based on “guest lectures by Monsanto’s global experts and scientists” is being labeled as “knowledge transfer”. Selling hybrids and then GMOs is being subsidized by using public land for “Technology demonstration farms to showcase products technology and agronomic practices on land made available by the Government of Rajasthan”.

Besides the handing over of seed and land, “Monsanto will be helped in the establishment of infrastructure towards the fulfillment of the collaboration objectives specified above through access to relevant capital subsidy and other schemes of the Government of Rajasthan”.

While public resources will be made available to Monsanto as a subsidy, “Monsanto’s propriety tools, techniques, technology and knowhow and intellectual property rights with respect to the crops shall remain the property of Monsanto although utilized in any of the activities outlines as part of the MOU.”

This is clearly an MOU for privatization of our seed and genetic wealth, and a violation of farmers rights. The seed supply that the agriculture universities are handing over to Monsanto are not the property of the state, nor of Monsanto. They are the common property of farming communities.

While the Government of Rajasthan has signed seven MOU’s, in the final analysis it is the MNC’s who will control he seed by buying out local companies or locking them in licensing arrangements. This is precisely what happened in the cotton seed sector. 60 Indian seed companies have licensing arrangements with Monsanto which has the intellectual property on Bt. Cotton. In the final analysis, this is not an issue of technology, but of seed monopoly.

The Government has argued that these MOU’s will introduce hybrids in Rajasthan. However, “processes like hybridization are the technological means that stop seed from reproducing itself. This provides capital with an eminently effective way of circumventing natural constraints on the commodification of the seed. Hybrid varieties do not produce true-to-type seed, and farmers must return to the breeder each year for new seed stock.

To use Jack Kloppenburg’s description of the seed: it is both a means of production and a product. Whether they are tribespeople engaged in shifting cultivation of peasants practicing settled agriculture, in planting each year’s crop, farmers also reproduce the necessary element of their means of production. The seed thus presents capital with a simple biological obstacle: given the appropriate conditions, it reproduces itself and multiplies. Modern plant breeding has primarily been an attempt to remove this biological obstacle, and the biotechnologies are the latest tools for transforming what is simultaneously a means of production and a product into mere raw material.

The hybridization of seed was an invasion into the seed itself. As Kloppenburg has stated, it broke the unity of the seed as food grain and as a means of production. In doing so, it opened up the space for capital accumulation that private industry needed in order to control plant breeding and commercial seed production. And, it became the source of ecological disruption by transforming a self-regenerative process into a broken linear flow of supply of living seed as raw material and a reverse flow of seed commodities as products. The decoupling of seed from grain also changes the statues of seed.

The commodified seed is ecologically incomplete and ruptured at two levels: First, it does not reproduce itself, while by definition, seed is a regenerative resource. Genetic resources are thus, through technology, transformed from a renewable into a nonrenewable resource. Second, it does not produce by itself; it needs the help of other purchased inputs. And, as the seed and chemical companies merge, the dependence of inputs will increase. Whether a chemical is added externally or internally, it remains an external input in the ecological cycle of the reproduction of seed. It is this shift from ecological processes of production through regeneration to technological processes of nonregenerative production that underlies the dispossession of farmers and the drastic reduction of biological diversity in agriculture. It is at the root of the creation of poverty and of non-sustainability in agriculture.

Where technological means fail to prevent farmers from reproducing their own seed, legal regulations in the forms of intellectual property rights and patents are brought in. Patents are central to the colonization of plant regeneration, and like land titles, are based on the assumption of ownership and property. As the Vice President of Genentech has stated, “when you have a chance to write a clean slate, you can make some very basic claims, because the standard you are compared to is the state of prior art, and in biotechnology there just is not much.” Ownership and property claims are made on living resources, but prior custody and use of those resources by farmers is not the measure against which the patent is set. Rather, it is the intervention of technology that determines the claim to their exclusive use. The possession of this technology, then, becomes the reason for ownership by corporations, and for the simultaneous dispossession and disenfranchisement of farmers.

We need to only look at the cotton seed supply to see what corporations hijack of seed means. Monsanto’s now controls 95% of the cotton seed market. It controls 60 Indian seed companies through licensing arrangements. It pushed the price of seed from Rs. 7/kg to Rs. 3600/kg, with nearly half being royalty payments. It was extracting Rs. 1000 crore per annum as royalty from Indian farmers before Andhra Pradesh sued Monsanto in the MRTP commission. 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since corporate takeover of seed started as a result of globalization.

Rajasthan is an ecologically fragile area. Rajasthan farmers are already vulnerable. It is a crime to increase their vulnerability by allowing corporations to steal their genetic wealth and then sell them patented, genetically engineered seeds. We must defend seeds as our commons. We must protect the seeds of life from the seeds of suicide.

The future of the seed, the future of the food, the future of farmers lies in conservation of biodiversity of our seed. Contrary to the myth that we need to hand over our seed supply to corporations to increase food production, farmers varieities when used in agro-ecological systems have the potential to double food production in 10 years according to the U.N.

Navdanya’s research also shows that biodiversity based ecological agriculture produces more food than monocultures.

In the arid tract of Rajasthan farmers only take-up single crop not because of higher economic return but have no choice due to vagaries of nature. It is seen that the income derived from monocropping of pearl millet resulted in a net income of Rs. 3280. Of the total return that farmer achieved 60% was spending the inputs only. In contrast by adopting mixed farming system a total gain of Rs. 12,045 was recorded wherein the expenditure incurred was a mere 19%. A mixed cropping in the surveyed villages comprised of pearl millet, moth bean and sesame grown together in a unit of land. Further exploring the more common mixed farming wherein pearl millet is sown with mung bean. It has been observed that mixed farming system registered more returns (69%) as compared to mono-cropping system. The increased return in mixed cropping is attributed to lower occurrence of weed and reductions in pesticides due to judicious use of inter spaces. Also at times the supplementary crop commands a higher price than the staple crop. A similar study for mixed cropping was also undertaken wherein a comparison between monocrops of maize and mixed crops of maize, cowpea combined was studied. The results herein were in consonance with the findings of above two case studies. The maize, cowpea combined crop recorded 31% more returns than maize monocrops.

Seed sovereignty is the foundation of food sovereignty. Seed freedom is the foundation of food freedom.

The great seed robbery threatens both. That is why it must be stopped. ”

Source: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-great-seed-robbery-by-vandana-shiva

What Benefits Do GMOs Bring To Starving People?

GMO – Genetically Modified Organisms

Are GMOs safe for the environment? Are they healthy? Do they help farmers?

In an article found in … Written by … Is a simple to read analysis that cleared a few things for me about GMOs. The following facts were eye opening to me and I’d like to forward them to you to get your take on them. Thank you for leaving your comments below. Here is the article

“’We are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences.” — is a quote by Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist.

What is the technology she talks about? Did you hear about it earlier? Are you affected by it? Have you done anything abought it?

Most Americans are unaware that they eat a steady diet of genetically modified food. This is mainly because the GMO giants, as if ashamed of their creation, refuse to allow labels on food that contains genetic engineering.

Consumers are also generally distracted by all the other things on food labels that they’re supposed to be concerned about. And when they are exposed to information on GMOs, it’s usually from a mainstream source featuring “philanthropist” Bill Gates beaming a smile while expounding the “benefits” that GMOs bring to starving people.

They typically don’t hear about studies that show crop yields with GMOs are actually lower than with non-GM crops, or that they require far more pesticides than heirloom seeds, or that some are patented “terminator” seeds that don’t re-germinate, which ensures an eventual monopoly over food. Or, perhaps one of the worst findings, that hamsters in one study became completely infertile, among other disturbing effects, after only 3 generations of eating GM soy.

“Let’s be clear. As of this year [2008], there are no commercialized GM crops that inherently increase yield. Similarly, there are no GM crops on the market that were engineered to resist drought, reduce fertilizer pollution or save soil. Not one.” – former US EPA and US FDA biotech specialist Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman.

Clearly these results would most benefit a sinister agenda of food control and population reduction through proven effects on health and sterility. But they’re not the only reasons consumers should be concerned about eating genetically modified food. Supporting GMOs in any capacity, not least through ignorance, has countless negative consequences.

Here are five reasons not to eat genetically modified food:

1. GMOs destroy the environment: The repeated use of land for single-crop agriculture (monoculture), whether GMO or not, has resulted in dead soil that requires heavy doses of chemical fertilizer and pesticides to be productive. Significantly, GMOs were primarily designed to be resistant to powerful pesticides to encourage their use. These deadly pesticides are applied in heavier doses than traditional crops need and then leach into waterways, polluting everything in their path. It is widely accepted that this phenomenon is largely responsible for the Gulf Dead Zone that now spans the size of New Jersey. Furthermore, the backbone of industrial agriculture, now led by GM crops, is fossil fuels. From plowing, fertilizing, planting, applying pesticides, harvesting, to delivery for consumption; our food system is dangerously dependent on oil. In short, any food innovation that destroys the environment clearly will not be beneficial to humanity.

2. GMOs are unhealthy: GM foods have undergone little long-term safety testing for humans, but several animal tests have shown negative health effects. Recently, a major study verified that the substance used in most major pesticides including best-selling Roundup, glyphosate, causes birth defects. And in 2007, another independent study proved that Roundup induced sterility in male lab rats. Could this be the reason for the massive decline in fertility seen in human males? A 2009 study found that glyphosate caused “total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours.” As mentioned above, the 2010 study on hamsters eating GM soy, as reported by Jeffrey Smith:
After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.
It should also be noted that nearly all studies pertaining to eating GMOs resulted in some form of bacterial gut rot and new allergies in the test animals. So, we still don’t have conclusive studies that genetically mutated foods are bad for our health, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Don’t get burned.

3. Unnatural genetic contamination: Releasing any foreign genetic mutation into the wild can have unpredictable consequences. It has been compared to the disastrous results of releasing a new animal species that isn’t native to a territory — except GMOs are not native to any territory. GMOs aggressively cross-contaminate neighboring organic plants, causing incalculable damage. An unapproved GM rice that was grown for only one year in field trials was found to have caused extensive contamination of the US rice supply. A Spanish study found that GM maize “has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivations of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible”. Worse still, the GM Giants know this happens and actually sue farmers for patent infringement when their organic plants become genetically mutated. Can it get more evil? Sadly, yes it can…

4. GMO cartel has a near monopoly over food: It is estimated that over 90% of soy fields in America are planted with Monsanto GMOs, as reported by BestMeal; “In 1996, when Monsanto began selling Roundup Ready soybeans, only 2% of soybeans in the US contained their patented gene. By 2008, over 90% of soybeans in the US contained Monsanto’s GMO gene.” In another powerhouse soy producer, Argentina is reportedly planted with 98% GMO soy, and more than half of all global soy belongs to Monsanto. And GM corn is quickly nearing monopolistic numbers as well.

USDA Chart
Incidentally, Big Ag giants had much help from the American taxpayer in creating their monopoly through farm and corn ethanol subsidies, which unfairly undercuts competition from heirloom farmers abroad. Furthermore, the U.S. government has been directly funding the research and development of these products, yet the monopoly fiercely protects its private patents. The very notion of patenting food would seemingly allow for a complete ownership of food, and life itself. The growing monopolistic nature of food is perhaps more frightening than the possible health effects. Break the monopoly by supporting local food producers.

5. Destroys farmers: Besides the cross-contamination that destroys organic farmers, the actual GMO farmers are not much better off. In fact, it may be more appropriate to refer to them as share croppers for GMO masters. They are at the mercy each year to Big GMO for seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, and in many cases, financing. Watch The World According to Monsanto below for an all-encompassing perspective of how GMOs have affected farmers:

Other sources for this article:
http://www.saynotogmos.org/10reasons_need.pdf

What do you recommend we do about GMO ?