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Re: choice



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[Topics under debate]: Free Citizen, Long Term Vision, Preamble
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     Sonia Shah is right: India cannot and should not allow  
     genetically-engineered crops into the country if only because the  
     livelihood of up to 70% of the population will be threatened.
      
     When it becomes possible to separate genetically-modified (GM) crops  
     from others in the supply chain, I could see an argument for giving  
     those who wish to use these to take the risk of doing so; at present,  
     it is impossible for people in North America to exercise any choice in  
     the matter (everyone is forced to consume GM crops without even  
     knowing that they are doing so); and the situation could soon become  
     that in Europe as well.
      
     I have nothing against GM crops in principle, but I do have lots of  
     objections to their introduction in emerging countries because of the  
     threat to people living on the margins anyway; and I also object to  
     their introduction in more "advanced" societies if the introduction of  
     such crops leaves no choice to people about whether or not to take the  
     risk of consuming such crops.
      
     Professor Prabhu Guptara
     Director, Organisational and Executive Development
     Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre
     CH-8272 Ermatingen
     Switzerland
     tel: +41-71-663.5605
     fax: +41.71.663.5594
     email: prabhu.guptara@ubs.com
      


______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: choice
Author:  sabhlok (sabhlok@almaak.usc.edu)
Date:    27.03.1999 18:55


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[Topics under debate]: Free Citizen, Long Term Vision, Preamble  
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q is what is the level of choice and competition in this sector. if
these 2 don't exist then monsanto should be severely curbed. but i don't  
want us to rush to judgment. facts first.
      
On Sat, 27 Mar 1999, Charu datt wrote:
      
>  
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------  
> TOPICS under debate: Free Citizen, Long Term Vision, Preamble
> CHALLENGE THE MANIFESTO WITH BETTER IDEAS, OR ACCEPT THIS TO BE THE BEST  
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> The following article presents one side of the the debate around  
> the "terminator gene", gene patents, and related material.
>  
> Comment is invited.
>  
> -Charu
>  
> Genetic Engineering and Third World Livelihoods  
> By Sonia Shah
>  
> Agricultural and environmental organizations are sounding the alarm
> about genetically engineered crops the lack of labelling or wide-scale  
> testing of these profit-motivated products pose a great unknown risk
> for consumer health, animals, and the environment.  Western consumers  
> may grapple with the health and moral implications of genetically
> engineered foods. But for Third World farmers, the implications are  
> clear: these products are killing livelihoods, cultures, and
> economies.
>  
> For instance, 70% of the population of India are small farmers who
> subsist by collecting and harvesting seeds passed on from generation
> to generation.  These seeds the source of the world's biodiversity are  
> the heritage, legacy, and security for farming communities. Given the  
> seed's central place in their economy and culture, many agricultural
> communities consider the seed to be sacred.  But chemical companies  
> such as Monsanto which brought the world Agent Orange and DDT are
> aggressively seeking to disrupt this natural cycle of regeneration for  
> small Third World farmers. By buying up local seed companies and by
> claiming to own (by patenting) native seeds, Monsanto, as the world's  
> largest producer of agrochemicals and transgenic seeds, is attempting  
> to pirate this age-old, self-sustaining method of farming and
> sustenance.
>  
>  
> Small farmers must now buy the seeds they once harvested themselves  
> from their own crops. Or they may buy genetically engineered seeds,
> such as Monsanto's wheat, corn, and soy which have been engineered to  
> be resistant to the company's own broad-spectrum poison ˘Roundup.÷
> Monsanto sells both the poison and the transgenic seed together in the  
> same package the seed is useless without the poison.  Monsanto
> propaganda asserts that genetic engineering will result in more
> sustainable farming, but in fact most transgenic crops are developed  
> to be impervious to the continued use of herbicides. To more fully
> curtail farmers' ability to replant their own seeds, Monsanto is
> currently developing seeds with a ˘Terminator÷ gene, so that the seeds  
> are sterile. This corporate strategy of forcing small Third World
> farmers to use dead or poison-dependant seeds, while profitable for
> Monsanto, pushes farmers into an ill-afforded corporate dependence and  
> further contaminates their land.
>  
> Over much resistance, the Indian government allowed Monsanto to test  
> its pest-resistant Bt cotton seeds in India. Last year, 95% of these  
> seeds did not sprout for farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh;
> hundreds of farmers commit suicide. In December 1998, Indian farmers'  
> organizations which have been organizing resistance to corporate
> agriculture at least since GATT negotiations started launched a
> "Cremation Monsanto" campaign, uprooting Monsanto-engineered crops and setting
> the fields afire.
>  
> That very same month, President Clinton bestowed the nation's highest  
> honor for technological achievement on the Monsanto scientists that
> developed Bt cotton. The U.S. exports 80% of the world's genetically  
> engineered materials, and has successfully stymied any attempts to
> regulate this trade.  The impacts on consumer health and the
> environment are disturbing unknowns; but for Third World farmers, the  
> future is all too clear.
>  
> Sonia Shah is the editor of Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists  
> Breathe Fire, and an editor/publisher in the South End Press
> collective.
>  
> Sources Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, by  
> Vandana Shiva (South End Press, 1997).
>  
> North and South Face Off Over Genetic Engineering, InterPress  
> Third World News Agency, 2/16/99
>  
> Goldburg, R., et al, Biotechnology's Bitter Harvest: Herbicide  
> Tolerant Crops and the Threat to Sustainable Agriculture,
> Council for Responsible Genetics, Cambridge, MA  
>  
> AP Asks Monsanto to Stop Trials in Cotton Fields,  
> Deccan Herald 12/4/98
>  
> Scientist suspects foul play, wants CBI to probe cotton  
> suicides, Times of India, 1/18/99
>  
> Prof. Nanjundaswamy,
> Cremation Monsanto the campaign, web posting  
>  
> The 1998 National Medal of Technology, Scientific American,  
> March 1999, p.47.
>  
> US Government Sued Over Genetic Crops, InterPress Third World  
> News Agency,
> 2/18/99.
> See also
> The Monsanto Machine, by Jeffrey St. Clair,  
> In These Times, 3/7/99, p. 4
>  
> Monsanto: Playing God by Kirkpatrick Sale,  
> The Nation, 3/8/99, p. 14, and
> Vermont, the Pure-Food State, by Daniel Bellow,  
> The Nation, 3/8/99, p. 19
>  
>  
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> This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org  
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