New Delhi, April 7 : Environmental activists here on Friday accused GM crop giant Monsanto of “illegally” introducing a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) based crop in various states of India and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against the multinational.
On the occasion of World Health Day, Navdanya, a networking body of seed keepers from around the country, and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an association which advocates indigenous industry, appealed to the Prime Minister to “ban Monsanto on account of illegal introduction of herbicide-tolerant GMO ‘Round-up Ready Flex’ (RRF) Bt Cotton”, during a meet.
Noted environmental activist and Founder of Navdanya, Vandana Shiva, said the seed is not going to help farmers and using it would mean risk to plants lives as “rest of the crops are going to die and soil is going to die”.
The Manch alleged in a statement that “Monsanto (apparently) had released RRF trait after transferring it into several local varieties, into the Indian environment so that they will be able to induce the farmers to grow herbicide resistant cotton to sell their herbicide ‘Roundup’ in large quantities”.
It said that samples submitted by farmers from several states — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Gujarat — were tested by Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) and that the latter “confirmed the presence of RRF Bt Cotton, which is not only illegal but a massive fraud on the faith of Indian government and Indian people”.
Roundup is a herbicide brand which is being sold by Monsanto since the 1970s around the world, including India. The ‘glyphosate’-based brand is used for killing weeds and other grasses which compete with the crop.
Round-up Ready Flex is a form of Bt Cotton designed by Monsanto which, according to the firm, “offers a high margin of crop safety due to its tolerance ot glyphosate”.
Shiva also cited a World Health Organisation report that “declared (gylophosate-based herbicide) a probable carcinogen” to denounce the multinational giant further for the “contamination”.
However, Monsanto, when contacted by IANS, rubbished the allegations as “baseless” and said that it conducts all its business ethically.
“Monsanto conducts its businesses in a transparent and ethical manner and in adherence with the laws of the land. Technologies introduced by us have been subject to rigorous regulatory evaluations over the years and have been approved by the country’s regulators.
“The history of safe use of glyphosate is supported by comprehensive assessments of the scientific evidence that span four decades. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used and comprehensively evaluated herbicides with a 40-year history of safe use.
“The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) as recently as March 2017 after a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of the safety data on glyphosate, affirmed glyphosate is safe and not a carcinogen,” Monsanto India said in a statement shared with IANS.