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Navdanya Diary

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Welcome to Navdanya's Diary, an online journal of the spirit of Navdanya.
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The fight against GM mustard in India is crucial for the global war on GMOs

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 17:32

By Ruchi Shroff – LifeGate, 1 August 2017

Italiano

Source

If approved, GM mustard would become the first GMO to enter India’s food chain: this is why the fight doesn’t involve India alone but the whole world.

Amidst the determined push by biotech lobbies to impose genetically modified (GM) mustard in India, civil society movements and farmers’ organizations are once again doing battle to oppose this new product of genetic engineering. If approved, gm mustard would become India’s first GM food crop, which poses grave health and environmental risks.

If approved, genetically modified mustard would become the frist gmo in India’s food chain

The release of GM mustard would threaten farmers’ livelihoods and pose a high risk of contamination of mustard germplasm in a centre of cultural diversity such as India. GM mustard has potential adverse impacts on honeybees. Farmers worry that gm mustard will impact the pollen and nectar collection by honeybees resulting in lower mustard honey production and exports. Farmers and civil society are worried that the approval for this technology will open the gates for the entry of tens of other GM food crops. Bayer‘s Liberty Link crops are only two of the wo main types of gm crops resistant to the herbicide glufosinate.

The case of gm mustard in India

The battle against the approval of GM mustard (DMH11)in India is consequently growing across the whole country. In May 2017, hundreds of farmers and activists demonstrated outside the gates of the Environment Ministry in Delhi, while India’s largest farmer’s unions also wrote to Minister for the Environment Harsh Vardhan asking him to reject the commercialisation of gm mustard. Vardhan is also the Minister of Science and Technology and was one of the funders of gm mustard development. In a clear conflict of interests, he is now also the person who will take the final decision to approve or not. Resistance to the corporate takeover is growing also at a local level. While corporations and their lobbies, such as ABLE India, have upped the ante on the approval of gm mustard, thanks to the resistance across the country, five key Indian states including mustard-growing states have now banned the cultivation of gm mustard. The latest State to take a stand is Rajasthan, which has stated that it will not allow gm mustard even in case of approval at the federal government. With Rajasthan being the state where 46 per cent of Indian mustard is grown, this position could become crucial in the process.

The Indian state of Rajasthan said that it will not allow the cultivation of GM mustard, even if the government approves it

This is not the first time that Indian mustard is under threat. In 1998 India’s indigenous edible oils made from mustard, coconut, sesame, linseed and groundnut processed in artisanal cold-press mills were banned, using food safety as an excuse. The restrictions on import of soya oil were simultaneously removed. One million oil mills in villages were closed. And millions of tons of artificially cheap gm soya oil continue to be dumped on India. Last year, over 124 farmers groups, scientists, lawyers and activists organized an All India People’s Assembly against gm mustard and launched a nationwide ground campaign, working with farmers to practice ecological methods of agriculture with local varieties as well as organising festivals celebrating indigenous mustard and inviting citizens to join the civil disobedience. While the resistance against the imposition of gm mustard takes root, it is important to save and propagate the indigenous diversity of mustard.

The future of the food and farming system of the world

The battle against the commercialization and approval of GM mustard by civil society movements in India is not about the narrow issue of a technology tool in a specific area of the world, it is about a much broader issue of which food and farming system we want globally.

The release of specific GM crops in those parts of the world which are recognized as a centre of origin of those same crops, raises important questions on the issue of germplasm contamination and represents a threat to the future of biodiversity at a global level. In the Report “Maize Under Threat, GE Maize Contamination in Mexico”, published by Greenpeace in 2003, the authors state that “GE crop contamination in centres of diversity poses a major global concern and urgent measures must be taken to ensure the integrity of such centres. We can’t afford to let the very sources of our food supply become irreversibly contaminated”.

The global battle against GMOs

As the immense diversity of mustard crops is now under threat in India, so too are under way harsh political debates and people’s mobilizations in other parts of the world to counter similar issues. For more than a decade Monsanto and other agrichemical industries have been fighting to impose GM corn in Mexico. In 2012, in response to the umpteenth request by Monsanto for authorisation to grow and commercialize GM corn, a coalition of Mexican scientists, the Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad (UCCS) – Union of Socially Concerned Scientists, published a declaration and launched a wide international opposition campaign.

For more than a decade Monsanto and other agrichemical industries have been fighting to impose GM corn in Mexico.

The declaration states that “Mexico is not only the cradle of corn, the second most important commodity crop in the world, but it also stewards one of the few Centers of Origin and Diversification, from which the world derives the genetic diversity needed to maintain its production in the mist of new plagues and climatic challenges”. With reference to and in support of the declaration, Etc group defined the possible authorization of GM corn by the Mexican government as a “crime of historic significance”. Moreover, the News Release states that “genetic contamination of Mexican peasant varieties will be inevitable. We are talking about damaging more than 7,000 years of indigenous and peasant work that created maize – one of the world’s three most widely eaten crops”.

The victory against GM eggplant in India

Since its approval in Bangladesh in 2013, the cultivation of Bt eggplant (Bt brinjal) has been strongly criticized. Farida Akhtar, founder of Ubinig, a Bangladeshi NGO that maintains community seed banks, declared that Bangladesh is a centre of origin of brinjal and home to over 100 varieties. “These varieties”, she said “now face genetic contamination from the GM varieties through natural cross-pollination”.

The same Bt Brinjal was stopped in India in 2010. At the time civil society movements and numerous independent scientists had expressed great concern on how contamination between the GM eggplant and other eggplant traditional varieties would have been rapid and irreversible. The Supreme Court declared a moratorium of 10 years on any field trial, while the technical advisory committee (TEC) also recommended a ban on the “release of GM crops for which India is a centre of origin or diversity, as rice, brinjal, and mustard”.

According to Vandana Shiva women play a crucial role in agricolture because boast unique skills and knowledge for the conservation of biodiversity and an economy based on it © Aamir Qureshi/Getty Images

The only GM crop cultivated in India is Bt cotton. The experience of Bt cotton cultivation over the past 15 years has exposed the hype about GM crops and the devastation on farmers livelihoods and biodiversity.

Within a decade, Bt cotton was adopted by nearly 7 million farmers, and they cover 97 per cent of the area planted with the crop today. But the pests for which BT cotton was created have become resistant and pesticide use on farmers fields have gone up.

Not against technology, but for a democratic debate

History may repeat itself. Since its introduction for approval, the fact that GM mustard is a glufosinate herbicide resistant crop has been hidden from the public. Glufosinate is a neuro toxic pesticide that causes damage to nerves and the brain. Mustard is used as a medicine and in every kitchen of India. Herbicide tolerance would mean increased plant residues. The farmers’ battle is therefore not against technology. The country needs a democratic debate on the systems of food and agriculture that protect biodiversity, people’s health, farmers livelihoods. Decisions about what we eat and how our food is grown cannot be left to opaque committees, connected to the biotech industry and disconnected from the democratic processes that should govern our lives and our food. The movements are demanding a high level citizen enquiry which makes transparent the links between institutions and the agrichemical corporations of the Poison Cartel.

Related Campaign

Sarson Satyagraha – Civil Disobedience against GM Mustard                           
Categories: Ecological News

Resistance to GM Mustard in India

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 18:38

Amidst the desperate push by biotech lobbies to impose GM Mustard in India, Navdanya along with multiple civil society organizations is once again on the frontline to resist the GM Mustard. A herbicide tolerant mustard called ‘Bayer’s trojan Horse’ if approved will become India’s first GM food crop which poses grave health and environmental risks, contamination of our germplasm in a centre of diversity as well as adverse impacts on farmers’ livelihoods. The battle against commercialisation of DMH11- GM Mustard in India intensified as it comes one step closer to approval. On May 11th, 2017 Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), India’s apex regulator for GMOs, approved the commercial cultivation of GM Mustard leaving the final decision to the Environment Minister Dr. Harshavardan. The opposition reached the gates of the environment ministry in May with a demonstration with hundreds of farmers and activists at the ministry’s Delhi office against the approval granted to the GM crop. India’s largest farmer’s unions have also written to the environmental minister asking him to reject the commercialisation of GM Mustard.

After hearing the opposition by multiple groups the then environment minister Anil Dave promised to take concerns against GM mustard on board in his decision for approval. However, after the sudden death of Mr. Anil Dave, the environment ministry is now headed by Dr. Harshavardhan who is also the minister of Science and Technology and whose ministry was one of the funders of GM Mustard development. In a clear conflict of interests scenario, he will now also be the decision maker in the approval.

Resistance to the corporate takeover is therefore growing also at a local level. While corporations and their lobbies such as ABLE India have upped the ante on the approval of GM Mustard, thanks to the resistance across the country, 5 key Indian states including Mustard growing states have now banned cultivation of GM Mustard. So far, Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi governments have written to the Centre against GM mustard approval, and states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha and West Bengal have stated that they will not allow GM mustard. Farmers in other states have also come out with a resolve to not cultivate this GM Mustard which is a threat to biodiversity, the health of our people and the health of our soils.

This is not the first time that Indian mustard is under threat. In 1998 India’s indigenous edible oils made from mustard, coconut, sesame, linseed and groundnut processed in artisanal cold-press mills were banned, using “food safety” as an excuse.The restrictions on import of soya oil were simultaneously removed. One million oil mills in villages were closed. And millions of tons of artificially cheap GMO soya oil continue to be dumped on India. During those days, women from the streets of Delhi joined forces with Navdanya and the National Women’s Alliance for Food Sovereignty (Mahila Anna Swaraj) to start the Sarson Satyagraha and succeeded in bringing back pure mustard oil.

In July 2015 Navdanya with farmers organisations gave a call to every citizen of India to join the nation wide resistance against GM Mustard (Civil Disobedience against GM Mustard) and protect our indigenous diversity of mustard. Since then, the Navdanya team has been on the ground across India mobilising farmers in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, amongst others on the dangers posed by GM crops and the use of herbicides like Glufosinate and Glyphosate.

Last year, over 124 farmers groups, scientists, lawyers and activists including Dr. Eric Seralini, Nicolas Hulot and Vandana Shiva joined Navdanya to organize an All India People’s Assembly against GM Mustard. While creating the resistance against the imposition of GM Mustard, it is important to save and propagate the indigenous diversity of Mustard, Navdanya thus has been working to distribute seeds of indigenous mustard throughout the country while working with farmers to practice ecological methods of agriculture with local varieties as well as festivals celebrating indigenous mustard inviting citizens to join the civil disobedience.

The only GM crop cultivated in India is BT cotton and if approved GM Mustard will be the first GM food crop opening the floodgates of other GM food crops. In 2009, the GEAC had approved the cultivation of Bt. Brinjal (Eggplant), however the decision was overruled by the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh after an intense resistance by farmers organizations, environmentalists and civil society placing an indefinite moratorium on cultivation of BT Brinjal. The experience of Bt cotton cultivation over the past 15 years has exposed the hype about GM crops and the devastation on farmers livelihoods and biodiversity. The pests for which BT cotton was created have become resistant, over 97% of the cotton seed is now controlled by one company and pesticide use on farmers fields have gone up.

In 2015 campaigner Aruna Rodrigues petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the commercial release of GM Mustard where the Government of India had to give an assurance that the central government would not release GM Mustard without the approval of the court. Despite this, the government of India under the pressure of corporate lobbies seems to be on the verge of approving the commercial release of GM Mustard.

On June 11th, former cabinet secretary who was responsible for approving BT cotton warned against the possible approval of GM Mustard. “Had we been aware of the ill-effects of the Bt Cotton, we would never have approved it, said T.S.R. Subramanian, who had recommended the Genetically Modified (GM) variety of cotton for commercial cultivation as Textile Secretary in the 1990s.”

What is GM Mustard? and Why are farmers, scientists, environmentalists and civil society organizations opposing it?

The GM Mustard – Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH) 11 has been produced by a team of geneticists headed by Dr. Deepak Pental at the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi in collaboration with Dairy Development Board and Department of Biotechnology. It is a herbicide tolerant plant developed by crossing an Indian breed Varuna with EH-2 an Eastern European breed using a combination of 3 genes – barnase, barstar, bar derived from soil bacteria Bacillus amyloliquefaciens.

The barnase gene creates male sterility, the barstar gene line is fertility restorer. The third gene bar creates tolerance to glufosinate, a broad spectrum herbicide and a patented technology of Bayer Crop Science marketed worldwide as Liberty Link and Basta. The Bar gene marks out GM crops from other non GM crops thus eliminating all non sterile plants with a glufosinate spray in order to create pollen free sterile GM plants. (Also read: “The Success of This GM Tech Depends on Numerous Unanswered Questions“, The Wire, 20 September 2016).

Proponents of GM Mustard have pushed it is an indigenous variety developed by an Indian public institution in order to quell cries by environmentalists against the corporate takeover of our food and agriculture but Navdanya as well as multiple campaigners and environmentalists have exposed it to be Bayer’s Trojan horse.

In 2002, Proagro Seed Company (now Bayer), applied for commercial approval for the same barnase-barstar-bar construct that Prof Pental and his team are now promoting as HT Mustard DMH 11 with the same claim of 20-30% increased yield. However, the application of Bayer was rejected with the committee deciding that the trials conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on this were not “conclusive”. Nor was the committee satisfied that health risks had been addressed. Moreover, as Navdanya has pointed out, the bar technology is a patented technology owned by Bayer and this raises serious questions of ownership as opposed to the public ownership as being claimed by its proponents.

False Claims of Higher Yields

Proponents of DMH-11 are pushing it with the claim of an increase in yields of 28-30% in comparison to other non GM varieties and thus reduce our annual import bill of Rs. 60,000 crores in edible oils. However, farmers organizations say that the DMH-11 variety has been compared against older varieties of mustard crop Varuna (1975) and Kranti (1982), whereas atleast 4 varieties of non GM hybrids have been shown to have higher productivity. Importantly, the government in its own reply to Supreme Court’s hearing a petition filed by the environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues seeking a ban on open field trials and the commercial release of GM mustard admitted, “No such claim has been made in any of the submitted documents that DMH 11 outperforms non-GMO hybrids. “

If we already have existing varieties that produce higher yields, why are we imposing this GM Mustard in the first place?

Navdanya and Aruna Rodrigues ask:

“Therefore, what is the Union of India’s point? Is this HT mustard being introduced because of its ability to just make hybrids? Given that it does not outperform our non-GMO hybrids, the argument collapses on its essential lack of science and reasoned thinking.”

Conflict of Interest, Lack of transparency and gaps in scientific evaluation

Since its introduction for approval, GM Mustard has been shrouded in secrecy. Activists have been demanding greater transparency and calling the government to put biosafety documents in the public domain. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has been accused to be an undemocratic, opaque and unscientific body where deep conflict of interests prevail and where GM crop developers are an integral part of decision making.

The only report that has been put in the public domain is the “Assessment of Food and Environment Safety of GE Mustard” report. However, the agency didn’t share its full biosafety assessment of the GM mustard publicly online — contrary to the orders of the government’s Central Information Commission, which enforces rights to information. Instead, the GEAC allowed only a limited inspection of its assessment, at its office in Delhi. Calling the biosafety assessment a monumental fraud filled with scientific inaccuracies, Navdanya submitted a detailed critique on the gaps in the biosafety assessment report put out by the GEAC. Navdanya in its assessment raised twenty vital objections against the biosafety report pointing to key loopholes in the reports. The report lacks information and evidence on patents to improper and no feeding studies and blood analysis to herbicide tolerance traits (Illegal as per India’s laws) and further no socio-economic assessments have been carried out along with other health and biosafety tests.

Dr. Pushpa M Bhargava, a member of GEAC and a noted molecular biologist and Supreme Court appointee asked that “the government should put primary data and not just a review document in the public domain”. According to him, the biosafety review does not include the primary data to support the conclusions in the absence of secondary or toxic effects. “In the absence of primary data, it is not clear what is the basis of the conclusion that the GM mustard is safe,” he said. “The risks to health, environment and agriculture have not been evaluated even through those inadequate tests which were conducted at the time of Bt brinjal examination, though mustard is far more extensively grown and consumed than brinjal”.

According to Rajshree Chandra, a biotechnology reports points out “ The AFES report only attests to the negligible toxicity and allergenicity of the three genes – bar-barstar-barnase – using mainly available bio-informatics databases. There is no independent study or cross- referencing of biosafety studies related to the use of glufosinate in the AFES report.”

More pertinently, as mustard is an oil crop, there is danger of mixing/contamination of oils from GM and non-GM crops. The critical policy issues concerning labelling, extraction and traceability need to be addressed well in advance of commercialisation.

GM mustard has potential adverse impacts on honey bees. Farmers are worried that GM Mustard will impact the pollen and nectar collection by honey bees resulting in lower mustard honey production and exports. Importantly, farmers and civil society are worried that the approval for this technology will open the flood gates for the entry of tens of other GM food crops waiting in the pipeline.

Bayer’s Liberty Link crops are one of the two main types of GM herbicide resistant crops. Liberty is a trade name for Bayer’s glufosinate herbicide. “In India, the fact that GM mustard is an Herbicide Tolerant crop is something that is being carefully hidden from the public, said Dr Sultan Ismail at a conference organised recently in Chennai on GM Mustard . A herbicide called “Glufosinate” is a neuro toxic pesticide that causes damage to nerves and the brain. Mustard is used as a medicine and in every kitchen of India. Herbicide tolerance would mean increased plant residues.

A pesticide risk assessment of glufosinate ammonium conducted by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, 2005) classified Glufosinate as a Category 2, R61 “Toxic: may cause harm to the unborn child” and Category 3, R62 “Possible risk of impaired fertility”. (p. 14). It also reported increased kidney weight in rats in long term assessment of toxicity of glufosinate.

India is the home of oilseed diversity — coconut, groundnut, linseed, niger, mustard, rapeseed, safflower and sesame. Our food culture have evolved with our biodiversity of oilseeds. Mustard is the colour of our spring — basant. It is the flavor, and aroma, of our foods. It is a warm massage for a baby, and the glow of our oil-lamps on Diwali. Mustard has been central to the cultural and food identity of the diverse cultures that make India.

This battle is not about narrow issue of a tool, a technology. It is about the larger issue of which food and farming system we want. The country needs a democratic debate on the systems of food and agriculture that protect biodiversity, people’s health, farmers livelihoods. We need an open discussion on the scientific paradigm that guides research, policy and technology development. Decisions about what we eat and how our food is grown cannot be left to opaque committees, connected to the biotech industry and disconnected from the democratic processes that should govern our lives and our food. A high level citizen enquiry is needed which makes transparent the links of all the people in govt who are collaborating with the Poison Cartel to destroy India’s food security, sovereignty, freedom, democracy.

Ruchi Shroff, Navdanya International

Also read

Why Sarson Satyagraha is still needed

By Dr Vandana Shiva – Deccan Chronicle, 30 May 2017

Navdanya condemns GEAC decision on GM Mustard – writes to Environment Minister

Press release, 12 May 2017

SARSON SATYAGRAHA in the News

Related Campaign

Sarson Satyagraha – Civil Disobedience against GMO Mustard                           
Categories: Ecological News

Sowing the seeds of Earth democracy in Trump Times : The Planetary Crisis, Responsibilities and Rights

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 18:27
(Reflections on World Environment Day of President Trump abandoning his responsibility to the Earth and the community of nations)


By Dr Vandana Shiva, 4 June 2017

5th of June is World Environment Day – a day to remember that we are part of the Earth, and that we all have a duty to care. That two centuries of fossil fuel driven development is pushing humanity to the brink. And we need to change course.

This environment day is dominated by President Trump walking out of the Paris agreement. A “concrete-ist” afraid of the “winds of change”. What does Trump’s cowardice imply for international obligations to protect the earth, for a future based on ecological justice, for sowing the seeds of Earth Democracy?

Environmental laws at the national level were created in the 1970’s to protect the Earth from harm, and because we are part of the Earth, to protect people from harm.

In 1992, at the Earth Summit, the International community adopted two major ecological principles – the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle, and signed two legally binding agreements – The UN Convention on the Conservation of Biodiversity,(CBD) and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Both treaties were shaped by the emerging ecological sciences and the deepening ecology movement. One was a scientific response to the ecological impact of pollution of the atmosphere due to use of fossil fuels.The second was a scientific response to the genetic pollution caused by GMOs and the erosion of biodiversity due to the spread of industrial, chemical monocultures. Three years after Rio, the UN Leipzig Conference on Plant Genetic Resources assessed that 75 % biodiversity had disappeared because of the Green Revolution and Industrial farming.

Interdisciplinary science and democratic movements created the momentum for International Environmental law. Science and Democracy continue to be the forces challenging the mindless threat to the Earth because of corporate greed.

In the case of Climate Change the key issue is reduction of emissions and strategies for adaptation. In the case of Biodiversity Conservation the key issues are Biosafety and promotion of practices that conserve Biodiversity.

Both treaties connect in agriculture, our daily bread. How we grow our food has a major impact on the health of the planet and the health of people.

Industrial agriculture is based on fossil fuels and the chemicals it uses are derived from fossil fuels. As I have mentioned in my book “Soil not Oil” 50% of the atmospheric pollution linked to excess carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, methane comes from and industrial, globalised food system. The same fossil fuel intensive, poison intensive industrial agriculture is also destroying the biodiversity of our seeds and crops, soil biodiversity, killing pollinators, destroying water resources. It is also responsible for 75% of the disease epidemic related to bad food produced by oil.

The alternative, a biodiversity intensive, ecology intensive, localised food system, rejuvenates the health of the planet, and our health. Through biodiversity of plants fixing atmospheric carbon and nitrogen, excess gases are removed from the atmosphere where they cause pollution and climate instability, and are put in the soil where they rejuvenate fertility and produce more and healthier food.

The same food and agriculture systems that conserve and rejuvenate biodiversity also mitigate climate change. They contribute to health and to increased livelihoods in regenerative living economies.

People and communities everywhere are giving up poisons and adopting agroecology. They are shifting from an agriculture destroying the health of the planet and our health to a regenerating healing agriculture. They are obeying the laws of Gaia and waking up to the Rights of Mother Earth, simultaneously enhancing human well being. They are not waiting for governments to trump each other just to see who gets what share of a divided planet. Some governments are also waking up to both their obligations, and with it the possibilities of creating post fossil fuel economies through regenerative agriculture and renewable energies.

The most basic contest today is between the laws of the Earth and the lawlessness and irresponsibility of greed combined with ignorance. By backing out of the Paris agreement on Climate, President Trump has acted against the planet and our common humanity. He has supported irresponsibility, greed and lawlessness. Surprise? No.

He is of course not the first US President to have tried to undermine the UN treaties. Senior President Bush in the lead up to Rio said “Our Lifestyles are not negotiable”. To protect the GMO industry and the poison cartel, he refused to sign the Biosafety protocol to the CBD to regulate GMOs. President Obama continued to put pressure on India to undo its patent laws (which do not allow patents on seeds) – to assist Monsanto establish seed monopolies – to serve the empire. That is when I wrote the open letter to Obama and Modi to uphold our laws.

Also read: Seed Freedom and Food Democracy – An Open letter to Prime Minister Modi and President Obama from democratic, concerned citizens of India and the US

President Obama flew into Copenhagen and undid the legally binding UNFCC, replacing it with voluntary commitments. That is why President Morales took the initiative to initiate the Draft of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, a process I was involved in.

So there are two processes at work today – one is going beyond fossil fuel industrialism, beyond anthropocentrism, to create Earth Democracy based on the Rights of all beings.

The second process is the intensification of the processes of destruction based on greed, and destructive power of a small minority of powerful “league” of men.

The highest laws that govern our lives, and allow us to live, are laws of the Earth, of Gaia, of ecology.

As members of the Earth Community, our rights to her seeds and biodiversity, her soil and land, her water and air, are derived from our responsibility to protect and rejuvenate her resources.

And the rights of each being, including every human being are defined by the rights of other beings.

As the ancient Isha Upanishad states, all beings have the rights to the earth’s resources, and any person taking more than their share is nothing but a thief. A league of extraordinary thieves.

The issues of environmental justice are thus also issues of social and economic justice, and they are linked to the rights of future generations.

What we are facing with Trump’s actions is the second biggest polluter refusing to take responsibility for the damages caused by their historic pollution and refusing to limit pollution in the future. In effect Trump is wanting to defend the right to pollute, the right to steal other’s share of ecological space, to harm the Earth and to harm people across the world.

Such a declaration of unlimited rights with no responsibility is a declaration of a war against the planet and people.

What President Trump has done in the context of climate change is what Monsanto Bayer and the poison cartel have been doing by spraying Glyphosate, pushing GMOs, dismantling Biosafety and IPR laws, poisoning our farms, our food, our science, our governments.

This display of toxic power, of rights without responsibilities, of the will to act against the earth and against people, are examples of crimes against nature and humanity, examples of systems failure.

People and governments everywhere have to wake up to this reality and find creative responses to this criminal behaviour of rogue corporations and rogue governments they have installed.

That is why last October we co-organized, with multiple civil society organizations, a tribunal against Monsanto. That is why we are calling on governments to recognise crimes against nature, the crime of ecocide.

A few rich men in US, organised through ALEC and DARK MONEY, getting richer by stealing more from their own citizens, from Earth citizens and the Earth, is not “Making America great again”. It is deepening the crisis of ecology, of economic inequality, of social and political vulnerability and precariousness.

We are members of one Earth. Our interconnected well being and freedom is based on taking actions at local, national and international levels to make “the planet great again” as President Macron said in response to Trump’s announcement of backing out of the Paris deal – too real a deal to trump.

Also Watch:


Making Peace with the Earth – 17 November 2015

Related Campaigns

‘Terra Viva’ — Our Soil, Our Commons, Our Future
Pact for the Earth – Terra Viva, Earth Democracy
A People’s Pact to Protect the Planet and Each Other                           
Categories: Ecological News

World Environment Day 2017 – A message from Dr Vandana Shiva

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 18:25

On this 5th of June – World Environment Day – Vandana Shiva reminds us that we are part of the Earth, and that we all have a duty to care for her future. Two centuries of fossil fuel driven development is pushing humanity to the brink. Dr. Shiva clearly spells out how we need to, and can, change course.

Related content

Sowing the seeds of Earth democracy in Trump Times : The Planetary Crisis, Responsibilities and Rights (Reflections on World Environment Day of President Trump abandoning his responsibility to the Earth and the community of nations)

By Dr Vandana Shiva, 4 June 2017

POISON CARTEL – TOXIC CAPITAL

Navdanya Call to Action against the Corporate Takeover of our Food and Health

‘Terra Viva’ — Our Soil, Our Commons, Our Future
Pact for the Earth – Terra Viva, Earth Democracy
A People’s Pact to Protect the Planet and Each Other                           
Categories: Ecological News

Why Sarson Satyagraha is still needed

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 18:29

By Dr Vandana Shiva – Deccan Chronicle, 30 May 2017

Source

If GMO mustard is approved, India as a democratic, sovereign country dies.

There is a desperate push for introducing GMO mustard, which will be the first GM food crop introduced in India. This push is anti-science and anti-democracy. It is anti-science because the main justification given for genetic engineering mustard, with herbicide-resistant traits to resist Bayer’s herbicide glufosinate called Basta, is to increase in yields of mustard and stop edible oil imports. The GMO mustard has lower yields than non-GMO alternatives available in the country. The government has admitted in the Supreme Court that increased yields are not being claimed. Yet in the media this is the false claim being spun. HT hybrid mustard DMH 11 has failed the first criteria of a test risk protocol of a GM crop: “Is the GM crop required in the first place?” The answer is “No” based on the admission of the Union of India itself in its “reply” affidavit in the Supreme Court. It said: “No such claim has been made in any of the submitted documents that DMH 11 out-performs non-GMO hybrids. The comparison has only been made between hybrid DMH 11, NC (national check) Varuna and the appropriate ZC (zonal checks) — MSY of 2670 Kg/ha has been recorded over three years of BRL trials which is 28 per cent and 37 per cent more than the NC & ZC respectively” (At 88, pg.56).

India can produce enough oilseeds that are diverse, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate. In the 1990s, India had become self-sufficient in edible oils as a consequence of the conscious commitment to grow more oilseeds. The policy was called the Yellow Revolution. It worked. In 1993-94, India was producing 97 per cent of its requirements. In 1998, the same year that Monsanto sneaked in its BT cotton, the MNCs engineered a crisis, got indigenous oilseeds banned and dumped GMO soya oil on India by manipulating a drop in import duties. India had bound its import duties at 300 per cent in the World Trade Organisation. The US lobbies had soya oil duties reduced to 45 per cent. In the manipulated crisis of 1998, the duties were dropped to zero per cent. In addition, the soya bean was subsidised by $190/tonne by the US government and Rs 15/kg by India. No wonder India was flooded with imports, not because of domestic scarcity but due to manipulated prices and manipulated trade and manipulated policy. The women of the slums of Delhi called me to say their children could not eat the food cooked in soya oil. They wanted the mustard oil back. So we organised the “Sarson Satyagraha” in 1998 and saved our mustard. But the imports kept increasing through dumping and manipulating of policy. Compared to 1.02 million tonnes of edible oil imports in 1996-97, India’s imports doubled to 2.98 million tonnes in 1998-99, and then jumped to five million tonnes in 1999-2000.

Today we are importing more than 60 per cent of our domestic requirements. And destroying our coconut, sesame, groundnut, safflower, niger, mustard and linseed diversity and healthy food economy for GMO soya which in turn is destroying the Amazon and palm oil which is destroying the Indonesian rainforests. The planet is losing, Indian farmers are losing livelihoods, Indian citizens are losing health. We can grow enough oilseeds to meet India’s needs. As the farmers’ organisations wrote in a letter to former environment minister Anil Dave: “Oilseed production has taken a hit due to bad pricing/procurement support from the government, and inappropriate anti-farmer import policies adopted by the government. It is not because we are unable to produce enough or do not have the seeds or know-how. If the pricing, procurement and import policies are made farmer-friendly we assure you that we can produce all the mustard and other oil seeds the country needs.” The government of India is again being manipulated by the same interests that forced the edible oil imports on us. GMO mustard is being forced on us in the name of reducing import dependence. The unscientific and corrupt approval for GMO mustard is simultaneously approval to 100 other crops that are undergoing trials. Once GMO mustard is approved with unscientific appraisal, the floodgates for other crops will be opened. The issue is therefore not just GMO mustard. Do we want more farmers to be locked into debt and commit suicides? Do we want to give up our option to produce and eat healthy non-GMO food? Don’t we want democracy and accountability? We stopped Bt baigan in 2010. There was a consensus in India that we would not become victims of GMO foods. GMO mustard approval is handing over our institutions of democracy to a poison cartel.

We have seen what GMO crops do in the case of Bt cotton. Farmers have been committing suicide because of debt due to high costs of seeds since Monsanto is extracting lagaan (royalties, trait fees). Seed prices have jumped by 80,000 per cent! Monsanto has extracted `7,000 crores as illegal royalties. It does not have a patent on BT cotton seed a article 3j of our patent laws does not allow patents on seeds, plants and animals. Monsanto is manipulating courts to attack 3j, thus attacking not only our Parliament but also farmers rights. Article 3j is the legal expression of the concept of vasudhaiva kutumbakam — the world as one family. For the poison cartel, life is a corporate “invention”. For Bayer-Monsanto GMO means God move over, we will now pretend to be creators of life to collect royalties and lagaan. Patents and royalty collection is the endgame. GMOs are the excuse. When the Competition Commission of India started an inquiry because Monsanto controls 95 per cent of the seed, Monsanto dragged it to court. The Monsanto and Bayer merger intensifies the threat of monopoly over seeds, the first link in the food chain. And when corporations get as big as Monsanto Bayer, manipulating Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, the Niti Aayog, the courts and the government is very easy.

The GMO mustard is now a Bayer mustard. In 2002, the ProAgro (now Bayer) application for GMO mustard was rejected by the GEAC. They found in Dr Deep Pental a good trojan horse to continue their toxic agenda. The basic patents on the GM mustard technology are all owned by Bayer. The GM mustard will nakedly become a Bayer-Monsanto mustard once the approval is granted, the impediment of 3j is removed and the seed price control order is dismantled. The decision on GMO mustard is not merely a technology choice. Since GMO technology has been pushed primary to own the seed through patents to collect royalties, since such patents cannot be granted without dismantling the public interest and national interest built into our structures, laws and policies, GMO mustard is a recipe for the colonisation of India by the Poison Cartel. If GMO mustard is approved, India as a democratic, sovereign country dies. If GMO crops are approved, and Article 3j of our patent laws is diluted and distorted, India as a civilisation dies and becomes a colony in the toxic empire of the Poison Cartel. This is why I am continuing the Sarson Satyagraha to keep India healhy and prosperous.

SARSON SATYAGRAHA in the News

Related Campaign

Sarson Satyagraha – Civil Disobedience against GMO Mustard                           
Categories: Ecological News

Navdanya Book Launch: Annam Food as Health

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 18:32

Invite Book Launch:
Annam Food as Health

–Contributors:

• Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder Navdanya
• Foreword by Hon’ble Shri J.P. Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India,
• Prof. Dr. G. G. Gangadharan, Ayurvedacharya, & Director, Ramaiah Indic Specialty Ayurveda,
• Prof. Dr Rama Jayasundar, Department of NMR & MRI Facility, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi,
• Prof. Dr. Bhushan Patwardhan Director, Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (CCIH), Savitribai Phule Pune University,
• Dr. Mira Shiva, Coordinator Initiative for Health & Equity in Society, Founding member Doctors for Food Safety & Biosafety,
• Maya Goburdhun, Director Navdanya.

Date : Monday, 22nd May, 2017
Time Book release : 06:00 pm to 08:00 pm
Conference Venue : IIC Conference room no II, New Delhi
Time Dinner : 08:00 pm onwards
Dinner Venue : Navdanya Organic Cafe, Stall no 18, New Delhi (* contributory payment for dinner)

Press Release

On World Biodiversity Day Book on “Annam, Food as Health” was released which shows the connection between biodiversity, organic food and health

New Delhi, 22 May 17: On the occasion of World Biodiversity Day, Navdanya will pay tribute to late Minister for Environment and Forests Shri Anil Madhav Dave and we will also release a new book, “Annam, Food as Health” which shows the connection between biodiversity, organic food and health.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Vandana Shiva, Founder-Director, Navdanya said, “Nature has given us abundance. She has given enough to nourish every soul. On the occasion of the World Biodiversity Day, I would first thank our farmers, our pollinators, our women who have worked to keep biodiversity alive on our fields and in our forests.

Navdanya is celebrating 30 years of our work to conserve biodiversity and put biodiversity at the centre of the sustainable and equitable economic model. We have defended farmers’ rights and kept seeds in farmers’ hands through building more than 120 Community Seed Banks.

Through biodiversity based agro-ecological organic farming, we have increased nutrition and shown that it is possible to feed two India’s through biodiversity intensive systems of farming which are free of chemicals and GMOs. We do not need GMO rice, our biodiversity can provide not just enough Vit A , but all other trace elements and minerals we need for a balanced diet, health and well being.

Biodiverse organic farming has also helped farmers increase their net incomes by two to 100 times by getting rid of unnecessary expenditure on costly seeds and chemicals and by growing real food, with nutrition, taste and quality instead of nutritionally empty commodities for which farmers are paid low prices.

To reverse biodiversity erosion and the agrarian crisis to stop farmers’ suicides caused by debt, Navdanya started “Fibres of Freedom” based on organic cotton and other natural fibres.

On World Biodiversity Day 2017 Navdanya is also launching Ruh-e-Navdanya. Ruh is the soul, the spirit. With our efforts to promote essential and aromatic oils, we are committing ourselves to rejuvenate the soul of India based on diversity, harmony , well being .

India has a rich and ancient history in growing plants for health, healing and aromatic therapy. Ruh-e-Navdanya will both rejuvenate the biodiversity of aromatic plants and the knowledge of India’s indigenous tradition of healing, while creating new opportunities for small farmers to increase their incomes while conserving and rejuvenating biodiversity.

Dr Vandana Shiva stressed that “The the only way to celebrate biodiversity, is have biodiversity in our farms, our gardens and in on our thalis. To make sure that the millions of years of evolution is not destroyed and commodified, we should promote and use local biodiversity products, eat biodiversity and think in diverse ways to make Vasudeva Kutumbhakam our world view. On this day, we should take a pledge to protect our Earth, our biodiversity and our Earth family,” she added.

The Launch of Ruh -e -Navdanya will take place at Navdanya Cafe, Food Stall No 18, Dilli Haat. We invite you to stay for a biodiversity dinner, Grishma Ritu Bhoj.

Please confirm your presence.

For more details please contact:

Indra Shekhar, 9910589556

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Navdanya condemns GEAC decision on GM Mustard – writes to Environment Minister

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 18:34

“[…] Navdanya with the National Women’s Alliance for Food Sovereignty (Mahila Anna Swaraj) started the Sarson Satyagraha to bring back our pure mustard oil. The first bottle of the Satyagraha Mustard Oil was gifted to the then Chief Minister of Delhi, Sahib Singh Varma. Today we are able to enjoy our mustard oil because of the Sarson Satyagraha of 1998.

Our mustard is once again under threat, this time, from genetic engineering of mustard for sterility and herbicide tolerance by Dr. Deepak Pental of Delhi University. […]” (GMO in my mustard, By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Asian Age, 11 August 2015).

Navdanya condemns GEAC decision on GM Mustard – writes to Environment Minister

Press Release

Click to enlarge

“We can produce more food and safe food without GMOs. Just as Bt cotton got farmers into debt, GM mustard is a recipe for debt, crop failure, genetic contamination of our pure organic mustard, and pollution of our food with the herbicide Glufosinate, a neurotoxin” — Dr Vandana Shiva

New Delhi, 12 May 17: Condemning the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) decision to allow Bayer’s herbicide tolerant GM Mustard, Navdanya’s founder, Dr Vandana Shiva, scientist and environmentalist has given an all-India call to intensify resistance to GM Mustard and the hijacking of our food by the Poison Cartel of Monsanto and Bayer, MoBay. The GEAC gave a nod to Bayer’s Herbicide Tolerant (HT) GM mustard on Thursday despite a case still being heard in the Supreme Court and a commitment to the Court that no decision will be made till the court gives directions. The matter is sub-judice and yet the GEAC has nonetheless gone ahead with the clearance.

It is to note that this is the same GM Mustard of Bayer that GEAC itself rejected in 2002.

In condemning the decision, Dr Shiva said “Bayer/Monsanto are not just hijacking our food through their GMOs. They are hijacking the government, the courts and science. At the same time that GEAC has given approval to GMO mustard, Monsanto is trying to use the courts to attack our patent laws, specially Article 3 J
which specifically excludes patents on seeds, plants and animals. GMOs have the only purpose of collecting royalties through patents. They do not increase yields. They do not control pests. Nor do they control weeds. Instead, they create super-pests and super weeds.”

Click to enlarge

Now that Bayer and Monsanto are merging, Bt Cotton and GMO Mustard potentially have one common owner, together becoming the biggest seeds and chemical conglomerate in the world.

Six months after the Monsanto Tribunal and the People’s Assembly – co-organized by Navdanya – took place in the Hague last October, the Monsanto Tribunal, in releasing their Advisory Opinion, found that Monsanto’s practices undermine basic human rights and the right to a healthy environment, the right to food, and the right to health. The judges called for better protective regulations for victims of multinational corporations and that International law should clearly assert the protection of the environment and ‘ecocide’ as a crime.

Through profit-making patents, Monsanto has already pushed over 310, 000 farmers into debt and suicide and we foresee the devastation of India’s biodiversity, health and farmers, and the country’s seed and food sovereignty if GM Mustard is approved.

Navdanya has been resisting attempts to destroy Indian Mustard by starting the Sarson Satyagraha in 1998 when the first Soy Bean Oil massive import started. Over these years Navdanya has initiated yatras (pilgrimages) across the mustard growing states to conserve desi seeds and make the farmers aware of the threats posed by this HT GM Mustard.

Click to enlarge

Dr. Shiva, in a letter to the Environment Minister Shri Anil Madhav Dave sent on Friday, addressed the issue of fraud in GMO Mustard, DHM – 11, and requested him to take strict action to conserve India’s biodiversity and swadeshi sarson seeds.

Dr. Shiva in a statement said, “The GEAC is a compromised body, which works only for corporate interests. We know this decision of the GEAC is made under corporate pressure by Bayer and Monsanto”. Every word of their “safety dossier” has the stamp of corporations. In fact a large number of the members of the GEAC have been directly associated with Monsanto/ Bayer biotech lobby groups and now are only serving to promote their corporate interests.” She added, “There should be public disclosure on the credentials and personal background of the members to insure integrity and transparency.”

“We can produce more food and safe food without GMOs. Just as Bt cotton got farmers into debt, GM mustard is a recipe for debt, crop failure, genetic contamination of our pure organic mustard, and pollution of our food with the herbicide Glufosinate, a neurotoxin.”

“Every Indian should join the movement for freedom from the Poison Cartel, their GMOs, and their toxics.”

 

Also read:

GM Mustard row: Govt’s claims of higher yields, low import bills untrue, says petitioner Aruna Rodrigues

By Indra Shekhar Singh – FirstPost, 16 May 2017

GM mustard gets go-ahead: Scientist Vandana Shiva calls move ‘fraud perpetrated on nation’

By Indra Shekhar Singh – FirstPost, 13 May 2017

Environmentalists slam govt move on GM mustard

Millenium Post, 12 May 2017

GMO-Mustard Bio-safety Assessment: A Scientific Fraud on the Nation

by Dr Vandana Shiva, 17 September 2016

Related Campaign

Sarson Satyagraha – Civil Disobedience against GMO Mustard

SOCIAL MEDIA FEED (NEWST – OLDEST)

Indian Minister says no need for #GMO. Better option: promoting the "safer and healthier" organic food being grown in India. #NoGMMustard pic.twitter.com/IJiMWiijbD

— GMWatch (@GMWatch) May 17, 2017

Consumer from delhi concerned about her mustard oil #NoGMMustard @anilmdave pic.twitter.com/cy954JS4of

— Neha Saigal (@NehaSaigal24) May 17, 2017

#NoGMMustard @anilmdave @narendramodi @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/TSJoWD3SkG

— ananthoo (@ananthoo1) May 17, 2017

So GM is higher yielding? Another PR lie pic.twitter.com/RDEAYWzhYW

— Colin Todhunter (@Colin_Todhunter) May 16, 2017

Govt pushing through GM mustard which will destroy diversity of our mustard, poison our food, with no benefit.Only to benefit Multinationals pic.twitter.com/3nbCPY8bm9

— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) May 13, 2017

Organic farmers In Kerala took out a walk in Kalady town yesterday. #NoGMMustard pic.twitter.com/oUCj8zgvaA

— Devinder Sharma (@Devinder_Sharma) May 15, 2017

#GMOMustard Resistant to Bayer herbicide Glufosinate #Basta which is being banned in Europe in 2017.#BanBastahttps://t.co/8YXhibbOrr

— Dr. Vandana Shiva (@drvandanashiva) May 14, 2017

#GMOMustard Bar Barnase Barstar #Bayer technology to spread its herbicide Glufosinate #Basta & collect royalties https://t.co/hjZLa3orUh

— Dr. Vandana Shiva (@drvandanashiva) May 14, 2017

#GMmustard is Recipe for #Debt #CropFailure #GeneticContamination & #FoodPollution thru #Glufosinate https://t.co/UJ0vnHaxu5 @drvandanashiva pic.twitter.com/GBUp4bddvP

— Seed Freedom (@occupytheseed) May 13, 2017

                          
Categories: Ecological News