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Monsanto's Cremation Starts in Karnataka

Indian farmers burn Monsanto's genetically engineered cotton.
Sindhanoor, India, 28 November 1998. - Today the farmers of Karnataka will reduce to ashes one of the illegal field trials that the criminal organisation Monsanto is carrying out in the country.  This action will mark the beginning of a campaign of civil disobedience called Operation 'Cremation Monsanto', which will soon be continued in Karnataka and other Indian states.

The field that will be burned today belongs to Basanna, who came to know what kind of plants were growing in his field only last Wednesday, when Byre Gowda (Minister of Agriculture of Karnataka) mentioned his name as he disclosed the three sites where Monsanto's trials are being conducted in Karnataka.

According to Basanna's testimony, officials of Mahyco Monsanto went to his farm in July and proposed him to grow, free of cost, a new variety of cotton seeds, which they claimed would give very good results.  He could not suspect that their intention was to carry out an experiment on genetic engineering without his knowledge and consent, risking the future viability not only of his farm, but of his complete community.

The officials of Mahyco Monsanto, who have signed a written declaration admitting their illegal behaviour, went regularly to apply manure and pesticides to the Bt cotton, including heavy doses of insecticides. However, the plants are infested with bollworm (the pest that Bt cotton is supposed to control) and other pests like white fly and red-rot.  Despite the heavy use of chemical fertiliser, traces of which still can be observed in the field, the Bt plants grew miserably, less than half the size of the traditional cotton plants in the adjacent fields.

Monsanto did not inform the farmer of the nature of the pesticide-dependent, GE crops.
No single biosafety measure (e.g. buffer zone around the genetically engineered cotton to reduce biopollution, construction of a fence around the field, etc) was undertaken by the Mahyco Monsanto.  They did not even demarcate the field as biohazard area.  The seriousness of this negligence can be assessed from the following report, published by the British newspaper Mail On Sunday on the 25th October:

'One of the worst fears of campaigners against genetically modified crops has almost come true.  An experimental crop of oilseed rape that was altered to be resistant to herbicides has had to be destroyed after it pollinated nearby plants.  The fear was that, left unchecked, a new breed of superweeds which normal chemicals could not destroy might have resulted with devastating effects for Britain's agriculture.  Now, in what could be the first case of its kind in the UK, the Government is considering prosecuting the American chemical giant behind the experiment for allegedly contaminating the environment.  If convicted, Monsanto, the world's leading producer of genetically modified foods, and British based sub-contractor Perryfields Holdings Ltd face heavy fines.  Monsanto's directors, headed by chairman and chief executive Bob Shapiro could even be jailed if found to have been negligent.  Minutes of a recent meeting of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment reveal that Monsanto and Perryfields failed to prevent genetically modified winter oilseed rape cross-pollinating with another field of their normal oilseed rape.  A pollen barrier, or buffer zone, of only two metres instead of the required six surrounded the test site.  The minutes say that "a breach of consent occurred" and show that Monsanto officials had not visited the trial site even though it was the company's duty to do so.  Tony Strickland, trials manager for Perryfields Holdings, of Inkberrow, Hereford and Worcester, said, " We expect to be prosecuted.  A path was put around the test area and those on site overlooked the fact that the pollen barrier was then too small.  This increased the risk of cross-pollination." A Monsanto spokesman said, "We do not want to comment about a case that is pending with the Ministry, but to the best of our knowledge no breach of consent has led to environmental damage." '

Farmers fear that GE crops will pollute neighboring fields with sterile strains.
Basanna has only now come to know that this remarkably inferior cotton variety has polluted next years' cotton harvest in the whole region, rendering it as useless as his field.  He has also come to know that he has unknowingly engaged in illegal behaviour by commercialising a cotton variety whose commercial exploitation has not been approved yet.  He hence shares the anger of the farmers from the whole region, and has given his approval to the cremation of the cotton.

The behaviour of Mahyco Monsanto should not come as a surprise, given the well deserved reputation that the USA-based criminal organisation Monsanto enjoys all over the world.  A prime example of the criminal character of this organisation was exposed by a recently disclosed official report of the Canadian government published in April 21, 1998 (available at:  This report, prepared by the administration of Health of the Canadian government, describes the illegal tactics used by Monsanto to obtain permission to commercialise Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), the first genetically modified product that was ever commercialised in the world.  The report says: "Evidence from the animal safety reviews were [sic] not taken into consideration.  These studies indicated numerous adverse effects in cows, including birth defects, reproductive disorders, higher incidence of mastitis [infection leading to inflammation of the udder], which may have had an impact on human health." It explicitly states (pg. 14) that "There are reports on file that Monsanto pursued aggressive marketing tactics, compensated farmers whose veterinary bills escalated due to increased side effects associated with the use of rBST [rBGH], and covered up negative trial results.   All the four U.S. manufacturers [Monsanto, Eli Lilly, Cyanamid and Elanco, with only Monsanto actually marketing a product] refused to disclose the lists of their research grants to U.S. universities." Without such lists, one could not inquire what effects had been revealed by animal experiments, since nobody knows where the experiments took place and Monsanto refuses to disclose the original reports.  The Canadian government scientists conclude that "The usually required long-term toxicology studies to ascertain human safety were not conducted.  Hence, such possibilities and potential as sterility, infertility, birth defects, cancer, and immunological derangements were not addressed." The scientists who wrote the report testified before an inquiry board in October that they have been pressured by higher-ups to alter the content of their report.  Two of the report's authors, and four other Canadian government scientists, testified that they have been threatened with transfers to other jobs where "they would never be heard of again" if they did not speed up approval of Monsanto's rBGH product in Canada, despite the absence of long-term data showing the product is safe for humans.

Monsanto's list of commercial poisons also include the herbicide Agent Orange, which played a major role in one of the most horrible genocides in the history of humankind.  An article published by Los Angeles Times on October 31 reports that 'Agent Orange sprayed by the United States during the Vietnam War has contaminated the country's food chain, creating serious environmental and health problems that demand urgent international attention, a Canadian consulting firm reported Friday.  Using research that ranged from satellite imagery to soil sampling, the firm found high levels of dioxin, an Agent Orange component, in the blood of Vietnamese born after the war, indicating that contaminants are being transferred through the food chain...  Hanoi has long contended that the 12 million gallons of chemicals the United States dumped on South Vietnam during Operation Ranch Hand caused immense harm.  The chemicals destroyed 14% of South Vietnam's forests, according to official U.S. reports.  Vietnam has never asked for compensation but would like international help reclaiming denuded forest lands and caring for 70,000 people who it says have mental or physical disabilities because of their exposure -- or that of their parents -- to Agent Orange.  Vietnam says half a million people have died or contracted serious illnesses over the years because of the spraying.'

The risks posed by unscientific field trials like the one that will be destroyed today are particularly serious in the case of a corporation on the brink of bankruptcy, which would not be in the position to pay any compensation for the mess it leaves behind.  Monsanto's commercial success is completely illusory, and its bad policies have recently been punished by a 30% drop in the value of its stock:

* The corporation's $1 billion investment in rBGH has been described by business analysts as an economic failure that, after four years of heavy promotion, is used on only 4% of American dairy cows.

* The Monsanto Calgene Flavr-Saver tomato was taken off the market in 1996 due to consumer resistance and production failures.

* Monsanto's entire Canadian genetically-engineered rapeseed crop had to be recalled in 1997 because of "technical difficulties."

* Half of Monsanto's Bt cotton crop in the US was attacked by bollworms in 1996, prompting lawsuits by outraged cotton growers.

* In 1997 their Roundup Ready cotton did little better, with boll damage or deformities that led to still more lawsuits.

* Irish authorities made public US EPA documents revealing that Monsanto's supposedly Roundup-resistant sugar-beets were dying in significant numbers after having been sprayed with Roundup.

* Continuing public relations and marketing problems are mounting across Europe as genetically engineered field crops continue to be uprooted by protestors, more and more supermarket chains are attempting to source non-GE products, while activist organizations like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Global 2000, European Farmers Coordination (CPE), and the Genetic Engineering Network generate steady media coverage and bad publicity for the corporation.

* In late-September in the U.K., a special issue of The Ecologist magazine on Monsanto was pulled off the presses and destroyed by its printer.  Although Monsanto claims they haven't threatened printers or magazine vendors, almost no one seems to believe them.

* In the United States Monsanto has begun receiving adverse publicity for prosecuting farmers for saving Monsanto's patented herbicide-resistant "Roundup Ready" soybean seeds.  According to press reports Monsanto has hired Pinkerton detectives to harass more than 1800 farmers and seed dealers across the country, with 475 potential criminal "seed piracy" cases already under investigation.  A group of seed-saving farmers in Kentucky, Iowa, and Illinois have already been forced to pay fines to Monsanto of up to $35,000 each.  Besides the cost of the seed, a $6.50 technology fee is charged by Monsanto for each 50 pound bag of Roundup Ready seed.  As Monsanto told the Associated Press October 27, "We say they can pay (either of) two royalties --$6.50 at the store or $600 in court,'' said Scott Baucum, Monsanto manager for intellectual property protection.

* In Brazil a judge at least temporarily blocked Monsanto's efforts to get approval for farmers to plant Roundup Ready Soybeans.  According to a September 20 story by Bill Lambrecht in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "Monsanto discovered an unsettling reality last week: Anti-biotechnology sentiments that are widespread in Europe are sprouting in South America.  Hours before a government agency met to approve Monsanto's request to plant gene-altered soybeans, a Brazilian federal judge granted an injunction blocking the application.  For St. Louis-based Monsanto, the ruling is a setback that would be a real defeat if the company misses the Brazilian planting season in October and November.  Brazil is a potential market worth tens of millions in profits.  With 165 million people and a thriving economy, Brazil is a vital cog in the drive by Monsanto and its rivals to change the genetic codes of crops--and food--around the world."

* In San Francisco on October 27, Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro was confronted by anti-GE protestors who smashed a cream pie in his face.

* Monsanto's future business prospects suffered another major blow on October 30th, when Terminator Technology was banned from the crop breeding programs of the world's largest international agricultural research institution, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global network of 16 international agricultural research centres.  CGIAR's policy statement, as approved by the Genetic Resources Policy Committee, reads: "The CGIAR will not incorporate into its breeding materials any genetic systems designed to prevent seed germination.   This is in recognition of (a) concerns over potential risks of its inadvertent or unintended spread through pollen; (b) the possibilities of sale or exchange of inviable seed for planting; (c) the importance of farm-saved seed, particularly to resource-poor farmers; (d) potential negative impacts on genetic diversity and (e) the importance of farmer selection and breeding for sustainable agriculture"

All these reverses have left Monsanto facing plummeting stock values and without cash to face the situation.  The most spectacular result of this crisis was the failure of an announced $35 billion merger with American Home Products (AHP).  The company desperately needs the kind of capital and sales force which a pharmaceutical giant like AHP has in order to finance their recent multi-billion dollar acquisitions of seed and research companies and to market the numerous genetically engineered products in their pipeline.  Without a massive influx of capital, an over-extended Monsanto is on the brink of disaster, engaged in a hard time of layoffs and restructuration which are not to giving any tangible results.  In the wake of the AHP fiasco, Citibank has agreed to front Monsanto several billion dollars in cash, and the company announced plans to sell four billion dollars in new stocks, but financial analysts predict that Monsanto may now be close to terminal bankruptcy.

We send today a very clear message to all those who have invested on Monsanto in India and abroad: you should rather take your money out before we reduce it to ashes.

We do not understand how it is possible that the Indian government gave Monsanto permission to introduce genetically engineered crops, at the same time as other governments around the world are moving in the opposite direction after seeing their destructive consequences.  (The British daily THE INDEPENDENT reported on October 22 that "the [UK] Environment minister, Michael Meacher, confirmed to Parliament that much tougher checks would be carried out on GM products...  Mr Meacher told a Lords select committee that no insect-resistant crops will be introduced to the UK for three years").

We denounce the ignorance, incompetence and irresponsibility of the Union government and the Government of Karnataka for allowing a corporate criminal like Monsanto to gamble with the future of Indian agriculture.  We have four demands on them to be implemented immediately:


Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS)
Karnataka State Farmers Association

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Proof of Monsanto's Evil Is Readily Available All Over The Web - Spread Out . .
So I Am Providing This Dedicated Site To Bring It All Together.
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