GENET archive


9-Misc: GMO controversy in India

                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  The Pseudo-Science of Biotech Lobbyists: The baseless Barfoot -
        Brookes claim that farmers and the environment have benefited
        from GMO's
SOURCE: Dr. Vandana Shiva, RFSTE, India
DATE:   27 Feb 2006

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The Pseudo-Science of Biotech Lobbyists:
The baseless Barfoot - Brookes claim that farmers and the environment
have benefited from GMO's

While biotech crops fail farmers, and destroy biodiversity the "global"
studies of biotech lobbyists continue to cook up benefits to farmers and
the environment. A recent example of such pseudo-science is a report by
Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot of PG Economies Limited, U.K entitled.

"GM Crops : The Global Economic and Environmental Impact - The First
Nine Years 1996-2004". The report falsely claims environmental benefits
of reduced chemical use and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It also
falsely claims benefits to farmers amounting to $27 billion.

Bt Cotton is killing Indian farmers, not increasing their incomes

Brookes was in India recently and claimed $ 124 million increased in
farm incomes and 54% increase in yields from Bt. Cotton. However, every
study in India carried out by citizens groups and government shows that
Indian farmers are loosing not just incomes but lives.

Bt. cotton was sold with the claim that it would give 15 quintals of
yield per acre. However yields have been as low as 20 kgs in one acre.
On average yields of Bt. cotton are 1.2 quintals per acre in Maharashtra
and Andhra Pradesh; nowhere did Bt. cotton yield cross 4 quintals per
acre at the end of the harvest. In Madhya Pradesh, in Badwani, Khargaon,
Dhar and Khandwa districts, almost half the 42 farmers visited reported
that their crop had failed. Khargaon farmers faced total crops failure.
In the other districts only one expected a yield of 12.5 quintals, the
average yield expected by the others was 4.01 quintals, as compared to
the 15 quintals promised by Monsanto-Mahyco. In Karnataka, 15 of the 40
farmers visited in Bellary, Sirippupa and Haveri/Dharwad districts,
expected a total failure of their crops. The average yield expected by
remaining farmers was 3.82 quintals per ha.

In most of the fields visited, the Bt. cotton plants were in a stage of
maturity with leaves turning red before dropping off. The non-Bt on
fringes looked far healthier, taller and were greener than Bt. plants.
According to Dr. Jalapathi Rao, this was probably due to the toxin gene.
This means that unlike other hybrid cotton, which yields up to March,
Bt. cotton farmers will not get any yield after November-December.

False Claim of higher income

The failure/drastically reduced yield of Bt cotton has devastated Bt
cotton farmers, who are faced with penury. Mr. Mala Rao Krishna Rao
Thakre of the Both village in Maharashtra suffered a major heart attack
when he found his 27 acres of Bt cotton completely devastated by
diseases and pests.

The income of Bt cotton farmers is being reduced not just because of low
yields, but also because of staple size. The Monsanto-Mahyco claim a
staple size ranging from 26-29 mm, in actuality, it is hardly 15-20 mm,
and would fetch the rate of a short staple cotton (around Rs. 1500 per
quintal) while the normal rate offered for best quality cotton is Rs.
2000 to 2200 per quintal. One of the buyers in the Warangal cotton
market, Mr. Sarangapani of the K.N.R. Enterprises said that Bt. cotton
staples are only 6-7 mm long while the staples of good quality cotton is
32 mm. Warangal has seen suicides by thousands of cotton farmers since
1997. The region has become famous for distress sales not just of land,
but of body parts such as kidneys. The introduction of Bt cotton heralds
the death of thousands more farmers, not just in Warangal, but in other
parts of the country, as they are pushed into deepening debt and penury
by Monsanto-Mahyco and other genetic engineering MNCs.

For many farmers Bt. Cotton has totally failed in the 2005 season.
Nander Singh, farmers lilke Sukhlal, Chamar, Shiv Charan, Prem Singh,
Manohar Singh, Madan Lal, Manohar, Dhanna Lal, Shree Ram, Jhajju Bhar,
Ramdhan Bhar, Laxmi Narayan in Neemad and Tulsiram, Narender Rathor,
A.M. Subedar, Sudhakar Govind Rao, Sahidrao Piraji, Manhar Bhadhar, Mama
Sahib Nirmal, Ashok Rao Nirmal, Sekh Navi, Sekh Biram, Dilip Kaunda,
Sukhdev Thoor, Gajanand Dhage, Gyan Bhaji Supare, Namdev Rao Jhade in
Vidharba lost their entire crop. Others got average yields of 3 quintals
per acre at average costs of Rs. 6000 per acre.

Our surveys of earlier planting seasons showed average yields of 1.2
quintals per acre in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

A study by the Center for Sustainable Agriculture showed that Bt. Cotton
farmers uses seed that cost Rs. 1600 per acre, while organic farmers
used seed of Rs. 450 per acre, a 355% difference. Bt. was sprayed with
pesticides like Monocrotuphos, Confidor, Trace, Avarint, Eudosulfab,
Acephate, Demethoate, Imidacloprid, Quinalphos, Chlorpyriphos,
Cypermethrin, etc. Average sprays were 3.5 times costing Rs. 2632 per
acre. Organic farmers used ecological pest control agents like Neem,
Trichoderma, Panchakavya etc. at Rs. 382 per acre. This is a difference
of Rs. 2250/- or Rs. 7625/- per acre. Pest control in Bt. Cotton is thus
690% more costly than in ecological farming.

High costs of cultivation, and low returns have trapped Indian peasants
in a debt trap, from which they are escaping by taking their lives. More
than 40,000 farmers suicides have taken place over the past decade in
India. However, these are not suicides - this is homicide, it is
genocide. More than 90% of farmers who died in Andhra Pradesh and
Vidharbha in the 2005 cotton season had planted Bt. Cotton. Genetic
Engineering is killing Indian farmers.

Yet biotech lobbyists like Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot manipulate
data to cover up this genocide. In a recent visit to India Brookes
claimed Indian farmers had gained by Rs. 5 billion by having cost saving
of Rs. 2000 per hectare. In reality, farmers had an additional burden of
Rs. 2250 per acre or Rs. 7625 per acre.

The Brookes and Barfoot study is not based on primary empirical data but
extrapolations from false assumptions and manipulated studies. For the
U.S, the lobbyists claim $66.59 per ha of additional benefits for
Herbicide Resistant Cotton. Yet 90 Texas Cotton farmers have sued
Monsanto claiming they suffered widespread crop losses because Monsanto
failed to warn of a defect in its genetically engineered cotton. The
lawsuit seeks an injunction against what it calls a "longstanding
campaign of deception" (The Hindu Business Line, February 26, 2006, p.4
"Cotton Farmers Sue Monsanto").

GM crops have increased use of chemicals

The environmental benefits are also a false claim. Friends of the Earth
recently released a report showing that GM crops had increased use of
chemicals. The Indian experience also shows increase of pesticide use as
new pests attach Bt Cotton and the bollworm evolves resistance to the
Bt. Gene.

GM crops reduce Carbon Sequestration

The claim of reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing
five million cars from the roads is also totally false and fraudulent.
Brookes and Barfoot refer to herbicide resistant crops as "no till"
systems. This is not true. Herbicide resistant crops avoid one tillage
for weeding. Further, since they are part of industrial agriculture
systems based on fossil fuels not ecological agriculture based on
renewable animal and human energy, they inevitably use more fossil fuels
than small-scale biodiverse ecological farms. Finally, since herbicides
destroy all plants except the genetically engineered herbicide resistant
plant. Genetically engineered crops like Herbicide Resistant soya beans
reduce carbon sequestration by reducing biodiversity and hence reducing
carbon uptake by plants and soils.

The following is the description of Round-up Ready Soyabean by Monsanto, 

   "Many of you have heard of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. And its very
    effective at killing weeds - so effective, in fact, that Roundup
    would control soybeans as well as weeds if it should come into contact
    with both.
    At least, that was the case until Monsanto developed Roundup Ready
    soybeans. Roundup Ready soybeans express a novel protein which allows
    them to thrive, even when sprayed with enough Roundup to control
    competing weeds."

Figure showing How Herbicide Resistant Crops destroy Biodiversity,
Increase Soil erosion and Increase herbicide Use

Genetically Engineered Herbicide Resistant Crop e.g. Round Up Seeds

A-> Increased use of Agrichemicals including Round-Up

A1--> Environmental Impacts of Round Up
A2--> Direct Destruction of Biodiversity by Broad Spectrum Herbicide

A2a---> Decreased Availability of Food
A2b---> Increased Erosion of Soil & Water by destruction of Cover crops

B->Emergence of Herbicide Resistance in Wild and Weedy Relatives "Super Weeds"

B1--> Destruction of Biodiversity by Invasiveness of Resistant Weeds

B1a---> Increased use of more toxic herbicides


Broad spectrum herbicides like Round-up are directly aimed at
Biodiversity destruction. The total destruction of biodiversity is
however promoted as ecologically friendly by Monsanto.

It is also argued that Round-up Ready crops contribute to soil
conservation. This false claim is based on comparing a large monoculture
Iowa farm using other herbicides and a similar farm using Round Up.

However, the expansion of Round up Ready crops will also be introduced
in biodiversity rich agroecosystems of the Third World. The direct
destruction of biodiversity will in fact lead to more rapid soil and
water erosion since without cover crops, there will be no protection
against the tropical sun and rain.

The benefits are fictitious and illusionary when Round-up Ready
technology is applied to polyculture systems. Round up Ready crops will
lead to increased use of round up and hence destruction of both
cultivated and wild biodiversity.

In Indian agriculture women can use up to 150 different species of
plants (which are called weeds) as medicine, food, or fodder.

In West Bengal, 124 'weed' species collected from rich fields have
economic importance for local farmers. In a Tanzanian village, over 80%
of vegetable dishes are prepared from uncultivated plant.

Round up therefore destroys the economies of the poorest especially
women. What is a weed for Monsnato is a medicinal plant or food for the
rural people. Round-up Ready crops will therefore destroy biodiversity
in biodiversity rich areas and with it, the economy of the poorest.

Rodney Garrison was among the U.S farmers who believed in Monsanto's
miracle Round-up Ready cotton a cotton variety meant to be resistant to
Monsanto herbicide "Round-up". However, in the Mississipi delta where
Rodney farms, the revolution has produced such casualties that officials
are warning farmers to hold off until further testing. Dozens of farmers
are seeking millions of dollars in damages from Monsanto and its partner
Delta-Pine. The genetically engineered cotton plants have started to
shed their bolls. Farmers have lost upto 40% of their crop failing in
almost 30,000 acres.

Case Studies of Impact of Round-Up on Biodiversity

Case Study A

For the study of destruction that can be caused due to the use of Round
Up even in degraded ecosystems three plots measuring 10 metres x 10
metres were selected in different areas. One plot was on farmland which
had not been cultivated season. The other was by the roadside in a rural
area and the third was on the roadside in an urban area. The rural area
is Panchgaon which is about 70 kms from Delhi on the Delhi-Jaipur
highway. The urban area is near Dilshad Garden, New Delhi.

First a survey was done of three plots to determine the types of plants,
herbs, grasses and weeds growing in them. Application of Round-up
destroyed all plants in each sample. Extrapolated to the fields and
farms of Third World countries the introduction of Round up Ready crops
becomes a major source of biodiversity destruction, especially when
Roundup will be applied to the fields and commons fear where the poorest
people derive their livelihoods.

The result of the survey is:

Plot 1, Farmland in Panchgaon

The list of plants growing in the first plot and their properties are:

Plant ............. No .. Properties 
Parthaneum ........ 24 .. A Weed
Sharpunkha ........ 13 .. Used for treating liver disorders
Bhuiamla (Patented) 60 .. Treatment of jaundice and liver disorders
Punarnawa ......... 44 .. Treatment of urinary tract infections, blood
pressure, anti-inflammation
Sadahari .......... 18 .. Cuts, burns and dysentery
Aak ............... 05 .. Innumerable uses including appetizer and
treatment of piles 
Sarkanda .......... 06 .. Root is used for medicine and the plant is
used for making modas
Cokharu (patented). 15 .. Diuretic and anti-inflammatory drug
Apamarg ........... 21 .. Used for treating children's diseases and
spleen and liver disorders
Various grasses ...... .. Good source of nutritious fodder for the animals 

Plot 2, by the Roadside (Panchgaon)

The list of plants growing in the second plot and their properties are: 

Plant ............. No .. Properties 
Parthaneum	........ 35 .. A Weed
Sharpunkha	........ 06 .. Used for treating liver disorders
Ban Tulsi	......... 20 .. Treatment of cough and cold
Punarnawa	......... 22 .. Treatment of urinary tract infections, blood
pressure, anti-inflammation
Chakramand	........ 05 .. Treatment of gastro intestinal disorders and
liver disorders
Aak	............... 06 .. Innumerable uses including appetizer and
treatment of piles 
Apamarg	.......... 100 .. Used for treating children's diseases and
spleen and liver disorders
Various grasses ......... Good source of nutritious fodder for the animals 
Wild Berries ............ Source of food for a variety of birds
Arhar ................... Highly priced lentil which when it grows in
the wild is a very good source of nutrition for birds and animals

Plot 3, by the Road Side (East Delhi)

The list of plants growing in the third plot and their properties are: 

Plant ............. No .. Properties 
Parthaneum	........ 50 .. A Weed
Sadahari	.......... 35 .. Cuts, burns and dysentery
Ban Tulsi	......... 05 .. Treatment of cough and cold
Aak	............... 04 .. Innumerable uses including appetizer and
treatment of piles 
Apamarg	........... 15 .. Used for treating children's diseases and
spleen and liver disorders
Kaner	............. 08 .. Has a number of medicinal properties 
Ashwagandha (Patented)	4 .. Rejuvenator
Dudhi (Patented)	.. 12 .. Treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery
Castor (Patented)	. 03 .. Laxative
Gokhru (Patented)	. 11 .. Diuretic and anti-inflammatory drug 
Bathua .................. Food and good source of iron
Various grasses ......... Good source of nutritious fodder for the animals 
Wild Berries ............ Source of food for a variety of birds

Case Study B

Genetic engineering focuses on single gene, single function manipulation
of complex traits of single crops. When compared to polycultures, this
is both non-sustainable and unproductive. If herbicide tolerant crop
monocultures are compared to the complex mixed farming systems still
prevalent in large parts of the world, genetic engineering strategies
are less productive and more wasteful of resources.

In the mountain farming systems of the Garhwal Himalaya, a particular
cropping pattern takes place called Baranaja - which means, literally
twelve seeds. The seeds of twelve different crops (so often more than
twelve, never less than 12) are mixed an then randomly sown in a field
which is fertilized by cow dung and farm year manure. The twelve crops are: 

 1 .. Phaphra .. Fagophrum tataricum/esculentum
 2 .. Mandua ... Eleusine coracana
 3 .. Marsha ... Amaranthus frumentaceous
 4 .. Bhat ..... Glycine soja
 5 .. Lobia .... Vigna catiang
 6 .. Moong .... Phaseolus mungo
 7 .. Gahath ... Dolichios bilorus
 8 .. Rajma .... Phaseolus vulgaris
 9 .. Jakhia	
10 .. Navrangi	
11 .. Jowar .... Sorghum vulgare
12 .. Urad ..... Phaseolus mungo

Mandua and Marsha are the primary crops int his 12 crop selection. Care
is taken to balance the distribution of the 12 crops in each area of the
field. Thus, after sowing the farmer is required to transplant crops
from one area of the field to another area in order to maintain an even
distribution of the crops. As in other cultivation practices, constant
weeding is necessary. The crops are all sown in May, but are harvested
at different times, from late August (Jakhia) to early November and
beyond. The 12 different crops have been selected by the farmers over
the ages by observing certain relationships between plant and plant, and
between plant and soil. For example, the rajma creeper will climb only
on the marsha plant and on no other plant in the field.

Relationship between different plants leads to symbiosis, which
contributes to increased productivity of the crops. Assessments made
show that if farmers cultivate baranaja, they get higher yields, diverse
outputs, and better market price for their produce than the soya bean
monoculture which is being propagated by agricultural agencies. Soyabean
sells for only Rs. 5/- kg, whereas jakhia, one of the baranaja crops
that matures earliest, is selling for Rs. 60/- kg. Phapra is another
high value crop in the baranaja family, which has always been cultivated
as a cash crop by Garhwal farmers, which used to be traditionally
exchanged for salt.

Cultivating diversity can therefore be part of a farming strategy for
high yields and high comes. Since these yields and incomes are of
diverse crops, centralized commercial interests are not interested in
them. For them uniformity and monocultures are an imperative. However,
from the point of view of small farmers, diversity is both highly
productive and sustainable.

Monsanto Round Up Ready Soya bean introduced in these regions would
destroy the 'baranaja' biodiversity, undermine food production and the
income of small farming households.

More importantly, destruction of biodiversity translates into reducing
the capacity of agro ecosystems to sequester carbon. GMO's are infact
adding the equivalent of millions of cars by reducing the capacity of
farm crop diversity and farm soils to absorb carbon.

It should come as not surprise that Brooks and Barfoot are
manufacuturing false data to make GMO's appear beneficial to farmers and
the environment. They have come from the biotech industry. Barfoot
worked for 12 years with the Agricultural genetics company, which
eventually led onto Axis genetics which aimed to produce pharmaceuticals
from plants. Axis's GM potatoes were found to have damaging effects on
rats in research carried out by Arpad Putzai. Axis failed, Barfoot
continued to sell biotech failures as miracles. Brookes speaks on
Monsanto's website to promote GMO crops. Peter Barfoot and Graham
Brookes are new Directors of PG Economics who claim to be "independent
and objective consultants". The studies of PG Economies are funded by
big biotech firms. Their pseudo science and close links to industry show
that they are neither independent not objective. Their "study" should be
viewed as part of the PR arsenal of the biotech industry. 

                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Biotech Expert With Stiff Upper Lip
SOURCE: Hindustan Times, India, posted by AgBioView, USA
DATE:   25 Feb 2006

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Biotech Expert With Stiff Upper Lip

When Graham Brookes speaks, it's evident that you are listening to a
Brit with a stiff upper lip. His replies are pointed, explanations pithy
and statements terse.

Brookes is an agricultural economist who analyses the worldwide
financial implications ('benefits' in his words) of using genetically-
modified (GM) seeds. But he brooks no further argument that biotech
farming is still highly controversial and considered unsafe by the
majority of the world's farming community.

"The safety of mobiles phones has not been conclusively established yet.
So, do we stop using them?" he says. Fair enough. But we don't subsist
on mobile phones. GM crops are capable of changing the very definition
of food and what is edible and what is not. Brookes says GM crops go
through a regulatory approval that is "far more rigorous that any other
approval process".

So, why is the majority of the world's farmers against biotech seeds?
Today, 1.4 billion people rely on seed saving for farming. Threatening
them are MNCs, who are buying, patenting and investing heavily into
biotech. Three powerful agro-chemical MNCs - Monsanto, Dupont and
Syngenta - now control a quarter of the world's seed supply. In their
hands, the humble seed has become a powerful tool for control and
profit. A "monoculture of genetically uniform hybrids" could trigger
natural crop failure, experts say.

Diseases could spread faster, once the buffer of diversity is removed.
And "genetic engineering shrinks diversity" even further. Specific genes
become more important than the plant itself.

To these charges, Brooks comes up with statistics that sound good. World
over, farmers, including those in India, have made US$ 27 billion of
extra income from GM crops, Brookes found in his latest survey
coinciding with 10 years of GM food. Biotech seeds are genetically
modified to repel pests, cutting down the use of pesticides. In the past
decade, Brookes claims there has been 14 per cent reduction in
environmental hazards resulting from the use of pesticides. Moreover, no-
tillage crops mean fewer fumes from tractors. So why are farmers and
NGOs on the boil? "It's purely an ideological war."

How does India benefit? "Well farming of BT Cotton is already big. And
there's great hope in drought-resistant crops, which are in early stages
of development. Farmers in India need to be educated and make their own

At his London office, Brookes is mostly engaged in massive studies
funded by big biotech firms. And he vouches for the objectivity of his
studies. "Prove us wrong," he says, signing off in his forceful British

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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