On the trail of toxins
The ubiquity of genetically modified crops, brought about by the sustained efforts of agribusiness giant Monsanto has raised concerns globally. Neeta Deshpande reviews Marie-Monique Robin's The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Politics and Power.
Book Reviews
August 2013

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.
Sujatha Byravan | Biodiversity
March 2010

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.
Agriculture policy
February 2010

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.
November 2009

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.
July 2009

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 dining table.
Devinder Sharma
September 2008

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.
November 2007

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 ourselves.
Andhra Pradesh
November 2007

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 another?
Guest opinions
August 2007

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. Jaideep Hardikar reports.
July 2007

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. Suman Sahai argues that this is not really a workable strategy except in the first few years.
February 2007

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 Suman Sahai.
Guest Opinions
February 2007

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 Devinder Sharma.
Devinder Sharma
October 2006

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, writes Suman Sahai.
Agriculture Opinions | Trade
September 2006

Bt: Flaky results, pre-determined consensus
Can transgenic cotton ever be a livelihood security measure for the majority of India's small-holder farmers? Keya Acharya 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.
Agriculture policy | GE/GM | Economy

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 Keya Acharya.
Agriculture policy | Environmental regulation
June 2006

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 Keya Acharya.
June 2006

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 Subramaniam Vincent.
Env. regulations | Interviews
June 2006

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. Suman Sahai protests the reckless endorsement of vested interests while many other stakeholders are kept in the dark.
Agri. Policies | Right to Information
April 2006

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 Suman Sahai.
Guest Opinions | Farm trade
April 2006

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 P Sainath.
P Sainath | Maharashtra
September 2005

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 Devinder Sharma.
Devinder Sharma
September 2005

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? Kanchi Kohli says the developments may only be a breather.
Enviro regulation | Andhra Pradesh
May 2005

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. Devinder Sharma looks at the lessons.
Devinder Sharma | Andhra Pradesh
March 2005

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 Kasturi Das.
Agriculture policy
December 2004

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? Surekha Sule contrasts the transgenic research of ICRISAT with the local self-dependence of women farmers in Zaheerabad, AP.
Livelihoods | AP
October 2004

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.
Agriculture policy
September 2004

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 suspect that government agents themselves are working with producers to push the seeds, and are skeptical of New Delhi's plans for a crackdown. Ashok Sharma reports.
July 2004

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. Devinder Sharma on the recent approval given for commercial growth of another Bt cotton variety.
Devinder Sharma | Opinions
April 2004

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.
April 2004

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.
Devinder Sharma
February 2004

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.
January 2004

GM, agriculture, and food security
A national symposium on "Relevance of GM Technology to Indian Agriculture and Food Security" finds India's position is too opaque, based on incomplete research, and unresponsive to public health and food security concerns. Suman Sahai lists recommendations from this two-day event.
December 2003

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, says Devinder Sharma.
Devinder Sharma
December 2003

Flogging a dead horse
The hungry cannot afford to buy their normal dietary requirement of food, let alone nutrient-enriched products. 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 come, says Devinder Sharma.
Opinions | Devinder Sharma
October 2003


- Rigged results, failed promises
- No GM please, we are British
- From Pomato to Protato
- Eliminating hunger or the hungry?
- Challenging broad spectrum patents
- Pests, pesticides and modern science
- Monocultures of the mind
- Invoice enclosed - please pay
- A scientific fairytale
- The GM potato hoax
- Our seed, their profit
- Patently absurd - atta's turn
- It's mustard, this time
- A mindless conviction
- And now, Thai jasmine rice
- The great genetic scandal
- Security in native seed-baskets
- The crops of truth
- Who really owns seed?
- Bt Cotton shelved
- Karnataka CM asked to halt BtCotton
- GM Cotton approved