Category: Sustainability

Monsanto’s Soybean Biopiracy

By , February 27, 2014 1:58 pm

Patent granted on screening biodiversity in soybean plants for climate adaptation and disease resistance.

monsoy

26 February 2014, Munich – Today the European Patent Office in Munich (EPO) is granting a patent for Monsanto on screening and selecting for soybean plants being adapted to certain climate zones (EP 2134870). The plants are supposed to show a higher yield under various environmental conditions. The soybeans concerned are wild and cultivated species stemming from Asia and Australia. According to the patent more than 250 plants stemming from “exotic” species were screened for biodiversity in climate adaption and variations in maturity.

The usage of hundreds of DNA sequences representing genetic variations are claimed by Monsanto for future conventional breeding in soybeans. The patent is also applied in other regions such as the US, Canada, China and South Africa, however the EPO seems to be the first to grant this scandalous patent. (www.no-patents-on-seeds.org)

70% of all commercial soybean cultivated in the US is dependent on 6 varieties: Mandarin, Manchu, Mandarin Ottawa, Richland, AK, Mukden.

This narrow genetic base makes the soy cultivation vulnerable to pests and disease. Through the patent on screening soybean diversity, Monsanto plans to monopolize the soy biodiversity in Asia.

Asia is home to soybean. What Monsanto calls “exotic” varieties are varieties native to Asia. According to Tommy Carter of USDA: ”Chinese farmers domesticated soybeans from 30 to 50 centuries ago. If we could understand how those ancient Chinese farmers did it, we could use similar techniques to get better research results from wild Asian varieties”.

(http://cornandsoybeandigest.com/soybeans/genetic-diversity-offers-new-take-old-bean)

The soybean biopiracy follows an earlier case of Biopiracy of Indian wheat which the Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology had challenged in the European office along with other groups. The Biopiracy patent on wheat was subsequently withdrawn. This patent on the Biopiracy of Soybean also needs to be withdrawn.

Monsanto and the other 4 gene giants have taken more than 1,500 patents on climate resilient traits in crops (“Biopiracy of Climate resilient crops” – Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology – 2009).

The Indian patent office rejected a Monsanto patent on climate resilient crops.

It is time for the EPO to follow India’s examples and stop granting patents for Biopiracy.

It is time for the US government to stop issuing trade threats to India for ensuring that patents are not given for Biopiracy and frivolous and trivial modifications.

It is time for the International Community to complete the incomplete review of the Monsanto Protection clause in the TRIPs agreement of WTO.

Most countries have called for an end to patents on life, and an end to Biopiracy.

India’s rice revolution

By , February 17, 2013 7:31 pm


In a village in India’s poorest state, Bihar, farmers are growing world record amounts of rice – with no GM, and no herbicide. Is this one solution to world food shortages?

Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year. There had been good rains in his village of Darveshpura in north-east India and he knew he could improve on the four or five tonnes per hectare that he usually managed. But every stalk he cut on his paddy field near the bank of the Sakri river seemed to weigh heavier than usual, every grain of rice was bigger and when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked.

This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India’s poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world’s population of seven billion, big news.

It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the “father of rice”, the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields. Continue reading 'India’s rice revolution'»

Keep India Independent

By , November 28, 2011 10:29 am

After farming, retailing is India’s major occupation. It employs 40 million people. A sizeable majority of owner/employees are in the business because of lack of other opportunities.

The decade of liberalisation has so far been one of jobless growth. It is no wonder that retail has become the refuge of these millions. Lopsided economic development is transforming India from an agrarian economy directly to a service oriented post-industrial society.

The Indian retail industry is highly fragmented. According to AC Nielsen and KSA Technopak, India has the highest shop density in the world. In 2001, it was estimated that there were 11 outlets for every 1000 people. Since the agriculture sector is over-crowded and the manufacturing sector stagnant, millions of young Indians are virtually forced into the service sector.

The presence of more than one retailer for every hundred persons is indicative of how many people are being forced into this form of self employment, despite limitations of capital and space.

Download the PDF document.

Continue reading 'Keep India Independent'»

India’s democratic battle for safe food

By , March 9, 2010 12:23 am

The government of India was forced by an overwhelming public opinion to declare a moratorium on the release of the transgenic Brinjal (Aubergines/Egg plant) hybrid developed by Mahyco, a subsidiary of American seed giant Monsanto.

Bt brinjal is created by inserting a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into the brinjal cell. Monsanto claims the transgenic variety they have developed has resistance against pests such as Shoot Borer and Fruit Borer. Continue reading 'India’s democratic battle for safe food'»

Food Dictatorship Vs. Food Democracy

By , February 24, 2010 3:29 pm

An International conference on “Two Decades of the GMO Free Movement” was organized by Navdanya / Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology in association with the International Commission on the Future of Food, ARSIA, Region of Tuscany, Italy, Center for Food Safety, USA, Save Our Seeds, Germany, Diverse Women for Diversity and Initiative for Health, Equity and Society on February 23, 2010 at India International Centre.

Ever since giant corporations like Monsanto started to commercialize GMO crops and foods, citizens and governments across the world have organized to keep their food and agriculture GMO free. Continue reading 'Food Dictatorship Vs. Food Democracy'»