Monsanto Charged with Biopiracy by Indian Government

Musicians for Freedom Logo by Law Johnston of Denver

Editor’s Note: “While you were sleeping, They came and took it all away, The lanes and the meadows, The places where you used to play; It was an inside job, By the well connected, Your little protest, Summarily rejected; It was an inside job, Like it always is, Chalk it up to business as usual…” Don Henley, Inside Job. Read about The DeFacto Government.

Fire Dog Lake If I may, I would like to indulge for a few moments in a bit of American angst. Every time I set about to writing on this topic, I am incredulous that it is even possible that it is necessary. Do you know what I mean? It’s kind of like when some cretin commits a social faux pas in your presence being rude to, or insulting to the elderly, or a woman, or……well you get the idea.

Monsanto is Being Charged with BioTerrorism by the Indian Government
Monsanto is Being Charged with BioTerrorism by the Indian Government

But then, just as you’re going to get up in their face about this ignorant behaviour it occurs to you that they are clearly too stupid to know any better. And then, you have to ask yourself if it is really worth killing them over, because that is probably the only remedy. Where I came up, my friends and I would exclaim “No home training” while shaking our heads.

Well, with Monsanto, and Dow, Syngenta, and Dupont, American corporations all, I don’t believe that we have the luxury of such discretion. First, to our unending shame, we as Americans, gave birth to and nurtured these sociopathic corporate monsters, and have since released them on the world unfettered by rule of law, or a sense of common decency, or even any regard for human life.

The  genesis of our culpability in having picked the lock to the very gates of Hell goes like this: In 1971 a microbiologist working for General Electric “developed” a type of bacteria that could ingest oil. General Electric promptly applied for a patent. The US Patent and Trademark Office denied the patent application, quite reasonably I believe, on the basis that……you could not patent a life form……even if you had mutilated its genetic identity first. Such Hubris. Unfathomable if you possess a conscience.

Back then it was called utilizing recombinant DNA technology, not genetic engineering, and General Electric had no shortage of hubris. They sued the US Patent Office and eventually prevailed in the US Supreme Court in 1980. Genetic Engineering research  took off throughout the seventies while our democracy was hashing out this moral dilemma.

By 1986 the EPA had approved the first Genetically Modified Organism for release, tobacco. By 1994 the FDA incredibly approved a GMO tomato developed by a company later taken over by Monsanto, that the mice in the trial refused to even go near. So the mice were tube fed. The mice all died within two weeks. Seems the mice knew what they were doing after all. The FDA approved the tomatoes for commercial production and human consumption anyway. I know! Poor mice died in vain. Lucky for us, being fatal to mice wasn’t the only problem that these tomatoes had (I’m calling them tomatoes, but clearly they weren’t fucking tomatoes). It wasn’t possible to grow these things commercially, and lacking profit, the project died under its own weight of positional asphyxiation.

I have skipped over several events, and afterward there were a couple more steps in the evolution (pun intended), of this abomination of an American enterprise; but very shortly thereafter, the lock fell out of the hasp, and the gates of Hell swung wide open…………with nobody watching to see what emerged. I am convinced that our American predatory capitalism and the transnational corporations it has spawned, are going to kill billions of human beings. Yes….. I said billions…… I also said kill…… and I also said human beings. I further aver, that we as American citizens, will be complicit in each and every one of those deaths.

Many countries on this tiny planet, with governments who still consider it their duty to act in the best interests of their citizenry are fighting back, but few have the resources to combat a rogue American transnational corporation. India is one such country that is not only strong enough, but whose foundation is moral. How was that for angst? Now on to our story about India.

In Axis of Logic from August 18th, an article written by Julien Bouissou as translated by Siv O’Neall :

New Delhi, Letter – The National Biodiversity Authority of India announced on August 11 it would take legal action against Monsanto for American seeds which have developed a genetically modified eggplant (Bt brinjal) from local variations and without permission.

It is the very first time in India that a company will be prosecuted for acts of “biopiracy”, an offense punishable by three years’ imprisonment.

Monsanto, its Indian partner Mahyco and several Indian universities became partners in 2005 to conduct research with the support of the American development agency USAID, which is favorable to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Ten variations of eggplant existing in the regions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, among the 2500 in the whole country, were used to develop this first genetically modified eggplant due to be commercialized in India.

However, contrary to what the law that was adopted in 2002 requires on Biodiversity, no permit had been requested to use local varieties. Farmers should have been consulted so as to be able to negotiate a possible participation in the profits from the commercial exploitation of the eggplant. “Monsanto was fully aware of the law and deliberately ignored it,” says Leo Saldanha, director of the environmental advocacy organization Environment Support Group, which turned to the National Biodiversity Authority. in this matter of biopiracy.

Opponents of GMO hope that Monsanto will not be allowed to conduct research on genetically modified onions, as the company requested in June.

India, home to 7.8% of plants and animal species on the planet with only 2.5% of its land area, is very exposed to the risk of biopiracy. The subject is particularly sensitive since, in 1997, farmers in the north violently protested against the patenting by the U.S. RiceTec seed company, of a variety of basmati rice called “kasmati”.

The eggplant which is very present in the daily diet throughout the country, is also used as a religious offering. In the temple of Udupi, South India, the followers of Lord Krishna were violently opposed to the commercialization of genetically modified eggplant. They feared this would attract the wrath of their deity by offering him “unclean” vegetables.

If you would like to further explore this topic, either the technical aspects, medical, historical etc……allow me to recommend this reference article that is quite literally in places…… constructed out of links. It takes about 6 days to read one page, but it’s an excellent source.

To act without rapacity, to use knowledge with wisdom, to respect interdependence, to operate without hubris and greed are not simply moral imperatives. They are an accurate scientific description of the means of survival.
~Barbara Ward~