by Jonathan Benson
March 23, 2011
Recent reports out of India say that multinational biotechnology
giant Monsanto has once against skirted the law by clandestinely
planting its genetically-modified (GM) corn without receiving
approval to do so.
Nitish Kumar, chief minister of the Indian state
of Bihar, recently wrote a letter to India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh explaining the situation. Just days earlier, Ramesh
had denied Monsanto permission to plant the crops at all.
When he discovered that Monsanto had schemed with India's Genetic
Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) and the Indian Council for
Agriculture Research (ICAR) to plant genetically-modified (GM) corn
without official approval, Kumar was outraged. Kumar had previously
written a letter to Ramesh reinforcing his opposition to the GM
corn, and shortly thereafter Ramesh asked GEAC to block
corn plantings that it had first approved back in December.
But it turns out Monsanto continued to plant its GM corn at several
locations in Bihar, as well is in several other Indian states, even
as final approval was still pending.
And GEAC and ICAR appear to
have been onboard with Monsanto's agenda all along since they
allowed the company to continue with its experimental plantings.
"This is absolutely shocking, coming as it does under the shadow of
the review of Bt brinjal, the first (GM) food crop to be introduced
in India. It is deceitful," said Suman Sahai of Gene Campaign, a
grassroots organization working to protect local control over
genetic resources and food sovereignty.
"Permission has been given
surreptitiously. This is not right. We strongly oppose it. The
permission should be withdrawn for all States, not just Bihar."
Monsanto also violated the "isolation distance" requirements that
restrict GM plantings within a certain distance from non-GM
plantings. Previous incidents have revealed that GMOs can very
easily contaminate non-GMOs and
ruin the integrity of entire crop fields.
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