On the trail of toxins
The ubiquity of genetically modified crops, brought about by the sustained efforts of agribusiness giant Monsanto has raised
reviews Marie-Monique Robin's The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Politics and Power.
OPINION : AGRIBUSINESS
Schizophrenia of agricultural policy
Any discussion of GM crops must take place within the larger framework of the indispensable need to promote biodiversity and set up agricultural policies
linked to this need.
Reasons for the Bt Brinjal moratorium
Barely three days after the conclusion of the last of six public hearings, Minister of Environment
Jairam Ramesh slapped a moratorium on the release of Bt Brinjal.
Where is the science?
The debate in GM plants is deeply suffused by vested interests. In addition to impeding research, companies also
exert their influence on review and approval.
Too risky to tolerate
Small farmers distribute risk and harvest different things from different sources . Heribicide Tolerant crops strike
at the very root of such proven strategies relying on diversity.
Pause before you eat
The Bt gene in brinjal does not increase productivity. But what it is surely about to do is bring India's first genetically altered food grop to your
REGULATING GM FOODS
SC to look into deregulation of GM food imports
Following Gene Campaign's challenge to the decision to withdraw regulatory oversight over the import of genetically
engineered foods, the SC
Supreme Court has issued notices to the Centre.
GE CROPS IN INDIA
Genetically engineered spin
Lobbyists for agri-business interests will promote their agenda, naturally, but we must judge the merit of introducing more GE crops in India
REGULATING GM CROPS
GEAC's poor record of regulation
How does one countenance a regulator that does not adhere to the law of the land and is also unable to protect the interest of one group against
NEW VIDARBHA SEASON
Bt-ing the farmers!
Beleaguered cotton farmers, already steeped in debt, are being forced to opt for the
more-expensive Bt (genetically modified) cotton. Inputs dealers in Vidarbha say that
there is hardly any non-Bt hybrid variety available in the market this year.
THE BOLLWORM RETURNS
Is Bt-based resistance collapsing?
Studies from China and the US show the limitations of Bt-based resistance.
The bollworm evolves to resist the toxin eventually, and a number of secondary pests remain unaffected.
argues that this is not really a workable strategy except in the first few years.
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS
What's that on your plate?
Genetically engineered foods are blurring the line between acceptable and taboo sources of food for many people. This advance of technology is
taking place without the informed consent of the consumers, and additionally raises questions about the safety of such foods and the labeling
standards that ought to be adopted, writes
Has the Bt cotton bubble burst?
Cotton farmers around the country are following Andhra Pradesh's lead in skipping both pesticides and Bt seeds. And there are no pests. Why? There are 28 predators of the American bollworm, cotton's main enemy. If you stop spraying pesticides, these
beneficial insects devour the bollworm, notes
PATENTS AND LIVELIHOODS
Engineering crops, distorting trade
When technological change has the potential to put the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people at risk, it must be regulated
differently from other products in a free market. Blindly promoting innovation, as is now being done with genetically engineered crops, is self-defeating,
LENS ON BT COTTON
Bt: Flaky results, pre-determined consensus
Can transgenic cotton ever be a livelihood security measure for the majority of India's small-holder farmers?
is circumspect. She says that the Bt story in India is one of confusion. Bt appears more to favour 'rich' farmers, who have access to water and more resources.
LENS ON BT COTTON
Persisting on two left feet
Five and a half years ago, a visit to nine Karnataka farmers
who were trialing Bt cotton showed regulatory breakdown.
Six years on, despite fresh criticism by NGOs, scientists and the media,
India's regulatory practice with transgenic crops appears to have
offered a repeat performance of its 2000 conduct, says
LENS ON BT COTTON
Bt cotton farmers are alert this year
There seems to be a steady increase in the acceptance of Bt cotton by Karnataka
farmers. And, after experiencing the disastrous consequences of spurious seeds, farmers
are particular about buying only from authorised sources. But disturbing
and worrisome trends remain, reports
CONTROVERSY AROUND GM CROP
Understanding the Bt Cotton maze
The Bt Cotton debate is a vexing one. Proponents praise the technology, while NGOs charge
that it has failed farmers and is too risky. Dr Ronald Herring teaches
political economy and political ecology at Cornell University and has been studying the transgenic
movement in India. He talked with India Together's
REGULATION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
Biotech Policy: secretive and hasty
The government's stance towards biotechnology shows such disregard for the public interest that even its
own Expert Committee is not privy to the proposed new policy.
protests the reckless endorsement of vested interests while many other stakeholders are kept in the dark.
Right to Information
INDO-US AGRICULTURE DEAL
Nukes in favour, crops downgraded
The Green Revolution was a publicly owned technology, but the current version is its opposite; processes, products, and
research methodologies are caged in patents and the farmer has little say or control. But chasing nuclear stardom, India
has once again sacrificed agriculture, writes
SPURIOUS SEEDS IN VIDHARBHA
Chor Bt aur Bt chor
Fake and costly inputs have placed lakhs of farmers in grave danger. Further, despair has led many to embrace costly Bt
cotton as some kind of magic bullet. Meanwhile, Bt cotton has not only been attacked by other pests, it's been struck by
the bollworm itself. For many, the results could be deadly, writes
Rice in a private grip
Swiss biotech corporation Syngenta has tightened its monopoly control over rice. Seeking
global patents over thousands of genes in rice, the multinational based in a country that produces no rice itself,
is set to own the world's most important staple food crop, says
GE COTTON REGULATION
Centre's no to Bt cotton in AP
On 3 May, the Ministry of Environment and Forests cancelled its earlier
approval for commercial cultivation of three varieties of transgenic Bt
cotton seeds in Andhra Pradesh. How must one read the decision of the GEAC?
says the developments may only be a breather.
OPINION : PESTICIDES AND BT
No pesticides, no Bt cotton, no pests!
6 years ago, Punukula village in AP was no different from many other
cotton farming regions. Pesticide overuse and environmental poisoning
were rampant, and so were pests. But by 2004, the village had
successfully charted a simple escape route.
looks at the lessons.
NATIONAL BIOTECH POLICY
Case for a moratorium on GM crops
India's upcoming National Biotech Policy will aim at food security, health-safety,
farmer well-being, protection of the environment and security of trade in farm commodities. But
favouring GM crops over alternatives runs real risks of jeopardizing this agenda, argues
GM & LIVELIHOODS
Keep away, Anjammas tell GM pushers
Are poor drought-stricken farmers in the semi-arid tropics really worried about global loss
figures like $520 millions for groundnut and 3.7 million tonnes of chickpeas?
contrasts the transgenic research of ICRISAT with the local self-dependence of
women farmers in Zaheerabad, AP.
GM & BIOTECH POLICY
Biotech policy : task force report
The Department of Agriculture & Cooperation had appointed a Task Force last year
headed by Dr. M S Swaminathan to formulate long-term policy on applications of
biotechnology in agriculture. Suman Sahai comments on the recently
released report of the task force.
Unapproved seeds on the market
The easy availability of Bt Cotton seeds without consent from the
government is making a mockery of the regulatory environment. Some farmers
government agents themselves are working
with producers to push the seeds, and are skeptical of New Delhi's
plans for a crackdown.
India becoming a GM trash bin?
A casual approach to regulate the most-controversial technology is seeing India becoming a favoured destination for the biotechnology industry that is
virtually on the run from the US, European Union and Australia.
on the recent approval given for commercial growth of another Bt cotton
GM CROPS AND FOODS
GM crops and foods: SC notice on PIL
In response to a public interest litigation from Gene Campaign, the
Supreme Court has issued a notice to the government.
Gene Campaign is challenging the validity of the rules made for genetically
modified organisms and seeking a moratorium on the commercial release of GM
crops until an effective oversight mechanism is in place.
2004 - YEAR OF RICE
Rice is now Oryza syngenta
2004 is being observed as the UN International Year of Rice even as the biological inheritance of rice is now in the hands of a Swiss multinational. But
the starchy grain is the staple food for more than half the world’s population and the tussle for monopoly control is ominous, says Devinder Sharma.
A PIL for better regulation
Fearing damaging consequences to the environment and small-farmers due to severe deficiencies
the current regulations for GM crops, a New Delhi based non-profit organization has filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court. The petitioner has pleaded for halting commercialisation of GM crops until a sound regulatory and monitoring system is in place.
GM, agriculture, and food security
A national symposium on "Relevance of GM Technology to Indian
Agriculture and Food Security" finds
is too opaque, based on incomplete research, and unresponsive to
public health and food security concerns.
lists recommendations from this two-day event.
Busy exploiting hunger
"When was the last time you organised a national conference on
farmers suicides?" When I ask agricultural scientists this question,
their response is a deafening silence. They are too busy
cheerleading for the GM industry, which is discredited in the
developed world, but happy to sell 'hunger prevention' in India,
Flogging a dead horse
The hungry cannot afford to buy their normal dietary
requirement of food, let alone nutrient-enriched
Biofortification is a distraction from the real concern;
with public attention and resources being diverted from
ground realities, hunger will only grow in the years to