Say No to Monsanto in PakistanMonday, April 19, 2010
Have we forgotten that our 150-year colonization and subjugation by the British Empire was in fact initiated and masterminded by a corporation - The East India Company. Do we believe that the East India Company’s takeover of India was a circumstantial and isolated episode which died with the end of the British Raj? If yes, then think again! Instead, the East India model has been adopted and implemented across the third world ever since. Of course, it has been refined and perfected over time and has become much more systematic and institutionalized. And there are numerous East India Companies today, surrounding the globe like a pack of hyenas, impatiently waiting to trap and hunt vulnerable economies and poor societies of the world. One such company is Monsanto. It has already hit India and now means business in Pakistan. This section is devoted to raise awareness about Monsanto’s track record and to caution fellow Pakistanis about things to come if Monsanto’s advance in Pakistan escapes public scrutiny.
- Monsanto signs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Bt cotton in Pakistan
The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL) and Monsanto have signed an MOU aimed at introducing insect-resistant Bt cotton and other advanced seed technologies in Pakistan. The MOU was signed on Apr 10, 2010. The deal is said to "boost" cotton production in Pakistan.
Pakistan is already the world’s fourth-largest cotton producer in the world, and we earn around 60 per cent of our foreign exchange through textile exports. “For a few bales more? (greed), is it worth it to risk our most valued cash crop (the “white gold?) on the sales pitch of a corporation that at best has a notorious past in similar deals elsewhere???
- Monsanto's Bt Cotton Kills the Soil as Well as Farmers
The Institute of Science in Society report, citing a study conducted in India, exposes Bt cotton’s adverse affects on soil fertility, environment, and the long term financial prospects of the farmers.
- Failure of GMOs in India
Renowned Indian environmental activist, winner of the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize), Global 500 Award of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations (UN), Dr. Vandana Shiva, writes about the utter failure of Monsanto's Bt cotton experience in India. In a report titled "Failure of GMOs in India" Dr. Vandana and Afsar H. Jafri explain how "Monsanto seeds are spreading disaster" in India. They report "massive failure of Bt cotton" citing cases where unlike Monsanto's claim, Bt cotton not only failed to protect the plants from the American Bollworm, but also experienced 250–300% increase in attacks by non target pests. With costlier seeds and a lower yield, Bt cotton in general proved to be less profitable than the local varieties.
- Gene Campaign Demands Legal Action
Gene Campaign, a research and advocacy organisation in India, calls for legal action against Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) for criminal negligence and willful suppression of facts in the Bt cotton case, leading to grave economic losses to the farming community.
- Monsanto’s Takeover of Indian Cotton and the Aftermath
With seed patents, genetically modified (GM) crops, GM technology, and systematic elimination of competition and traditional farming, farmers are becoming completely dependent on profit-hungry multinationals. "Monsanto controls nearly all of the cotton seed market" in India, forcing the farmers "to buy its seeds at prices 4 times higher than conventional varieties". Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) seeds are deemed as "seeds of suicide" in India, causing higher prices, crop failures, increasing farmer debts and a significant rise in farmer suicides.
Controlling seed and food is "the best way to control the populations of the world". Watch this video clip of an eye opening documentary, "The World According to Monsanto" and learn from the Indian experience. Is that the kind of "boost" we are seeking in agriculture in Pakistan? Is this the right model of attracting foreign investment in a "poor" country? What "compensation" and "kickbacks" has our government and relevant agencies received to completely ignore the facts and data about Monsanto's products and glaring failures? Is our farming community aware of the dangers that lurk within the Monsanto deal? Are we and the society as a whole ready to face and counter the challenges that once again threaten our freedom? Or have we not learnt any lesson from history? May be a few million dollars' inflow in a "fragile" economy is too significant a "relief" to be jeopardized at the outcry of a few cynical voices?
- Launch of Bt Cotton Seeds in Pakistan
Dawn's Ashfak Bokhari reports that the Government is quietly moving ahead with Monsanto on "mass cultivation of Bt cotton" in Pakistan. Considering the world-wide controversies about Monsanto products, including Bt cotton, isn't it "common sense" for the Government not to publicize the specifics of the Monsanto plan?
According to Bokhari, Monsanto has worked hard in Pakistan since 1998 and now seems to have "found the much-needed nexus with bureaucracy in Islamabad". Monsanto's other achievement is the introduction of a few bills and amendments like the "Plant Breeders Rights Bill 2010", Seed Act etc. which would now help Monsanto protect its intellectual property rights and build a seed monopoly in Pakistan.
Already, 33 Bt cotton varieties, mostly smuggled, are being cultivated in Pakistan, most of which do not conform to Pakistan’s agronomic conditions. Farmers are currently using Bt cotton seed on around three million acres which is roughly 38% of the total cotton cultivation.
- Pakistan to Sign a One Billion Dollar Agreement for the Purchase of BT Cotton Seed from Monsanto
Ah, you need 1 billion dollars to commit suicide? I thought suicide was a damn cheap business? $1 billion required to put your farmers to sleep? Can't there be a cheaper method? I thought we were a poor country! What state of mind would make you pay someone an amount of 1 billion dollars for your own enslavement?
- The Punjab Government decides against a Bt Cotton Deal with Monsanto
Monsanto once again fails to prove its claims and the Government of the Punjab drops a deal with Monsanto on Bt Cotton. Monsanto's sugar coated proposition involved demanding guarantees and royalties (i.e. securing monopoly for itself) against uncertain and unproven benefits of its technology. Wow, what an offer!