‘GM Mustard has no chance with revelation of more facts’

Kolkata, April 19 (IANS) A day after an international civil society initiative concluded that US-based biotech giant Monsanto’s activities violate basic human rights, noted environmental activist Vandana Shiva on Wednesday said the commercial release of GM Mustard stands no chance with more facts about it coming to light.

The Monsanto Tribunal judges concluded that Monsanto has engaged in practices that have impinged on the basic human right to a healthy environment, the right to food and the right to health. Additionally, Monsanto’s conduct has a negative impact on the right of scientists to freely conduct indispensable research.

“My own assessment is that more the facts come out, the more GM Mustard has no chance. The Supreme Court has already intervened and the government can’t act against the Supreme Court. The apex court has asked for a stay now and they can’t generate new data and there is a conflict of interest in the committee that wrote the report. That committee has total conflict of interest. They are all members of lobby groups,” Shiva told the media here.

“They passed the April 12 date (of decision on GM Mustard) because the evidence is too high,” she said.

She said one of the facts about the transgenic crop is that “it doesn’t increase yields, we have varieties that have much better yield”.

Referring to the tribunal, Shiva, the founder of Navdanya (a networking body of seed keepers from around the country), said the report of the tribunal is a “statement that shows this is a criminal company”. Eminent judges heard testimonies from victims, and delivered a legal opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice.

Organising groups behind the Monsanto Tribunal include the Organic Consumers Association, Navdanya, IFOAM Organics International, the Biovision Foundation and Regeneration International.

“It (the Monsanto Tribunal report) will give strength to those who are fighting Monsanto, whether it is the GMOs of Monsanto or patent monopoly of the company,” Shiva said.

Shiva met Singur farmers on Wednesday before arriving in Kolkata as part of the Satyagraha Yatra. Pledging for a “poison free” and “corporate free” future, she batted for organic Bengal.

“We will rejuvenate the land of Singur. We planted a garden with the Singur panchayat officials with a commitment that the area will be organic,” she added.

Recently Navdanya and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an association which advocates indigenous industry, had appealed to the Prime Minister to “ban Monsanto on account of illegal introduction of herbicide-tolerant GMO ‘Round-up Ready Flex’ (RRF) Bt Cotton”.

Round-up Ready Flex is a form of Bt Cotton designed by Monsanto which, according to the firm, “offers a high margin of crop safety due to its tolerance ot glyphosate”.

Shiva also cited a World Health Organisation report that “declared (gylophosate-based herbicide) a probable carcinogen” to denounce the multinational giant further for the “contamination”.

However, Monsanto, when contacted by IANS, rubbished the allegations as “baseless” and said that it conducts all its business ethically.

–IANS

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