Food for all: investing in food security in Asia and the Pacific – issues, innovations, and practices

Food security is a critical issue for Asia and the Pacific. The region is the world’s key supplier and largest consumer of food yet it is also home to the largest number of the world’s poor and hungry. It presents a stark contrast—a food bowl that is full to the brim but cannot feed those who need food the most just to survive. To address food security in a sustainable manner, on 7–9 July 2010, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) joined hands to convene the Investment Forum for Food Security in Asia and the Pacific at the ADB headquarters in Manila. This book distills the wealth of information and depth of discussions derived from the proceedings of this landmark forum. With this book, ADB seeks to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, innovations, good practices, and lessons on food security and to catalyze greater interest and action on the issue at every front.

Contents
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • A Multi-sector Response to Food Security
  • Food for All through Innovative Partnerships
  • Country Responses to Food Security
  • Fostering Food Security through Regional Cooperation and Integration
  • Investments for Enhancing Productivity
  • Investing in Natural Resource Management and Environment Services
  • Building Resilience Against Vulnerability
  • Innovative Financing for Food Security
  • Investments in Connectivity
  • Perspectives from Key Stakeholders
  • Road Map for Change
  • Appendix: Program of the Investment Forum for Food Security in Asia and the Pacific
Publication Date: 20/01/2012
Source: Asian Development Bank

Investment and Devastation: Saraswati Kavula

http://www.andhrajyothy.com/pdffiles/2012/Jan/18/main/page04.pdf

English Translation of the telugu article published in Andhra Jyothi on the recent partnership summit

In the recently concluded Partnership Summit, our chief minister has claimed that the state was going to get 6.5 lakh crore rupees of investments and of that 1lakh crore FDI. This according to their claims would mean 6.78 lakh jobs. Kiran Kumar Reddy has promised all facilities like land, water and electricity to be available for the Industrialists to facilitate the setting up of these projects. 243 MoU’s have been signed. But where is the land coming from? Where is the water coming from? And where do we bring the electricity from, is the big question. Would it mean fresh displacement of farmers and rural people from their lands? The state is already reeling under water shortages – there is not enough water for the farmers of the state, but the Industry will get it along with tax concessions, subsidized electricity and infrastructure like roads, made with public funds. And how many of those 6.78 lakh jobs will actually materialize? Even if they do, what is the quality of the “jobs” and for what duration? Would a job mean a lifetime of livelihood or a hire and fire one? But to get these 6.78 lakh jobs how many lakhs and crores of agriculturists, grazers, and rural folk will be made to “sacrifice” their livelihoods? These finer answers one doesn’t get. As has happened with the Special Economic Zones – where a farmer who gave up his land to the Sri City SEZ expecting a “job” now works as a security guard to his own land but protects it for the company, or the people working in Apache, who now feel that their life as agricultural labourers was far better as compared to the torturous conditions of work inside the SEZ. Or the shepherds who lost their grazing lands, but would get neither compensation nor a job, as they do not “own” the forest or common lands that they depend upon.

 

In Sompeta, the Thermal Power Project of NCC was given away 973 acres of a wetland, which supports the livelihoods of nearly 50,000 people of the surrounding villages – agriculturists, fisher folk and cattle farmers. If the project comes up it would mean that entire village economies and cultures that are dependent upon these primary food growers will slowly disintegrate and disappear and be lost beyond recognition. Only when they begin to show in reality do we understand them. Like the Reliance Gas’ D-6 project where the company gained control over 7500 square kilometers of sea, dislodging close to 30,000 fisher folk from their livelihood by restricting their access to sea, while the pollutants from the processing plants let into the sea are destroying fish life in the surrounding coastal region. The extraction of natural gas itself by not just Reliance, but others like ONGC is now a threat to the livelihoods of nearly 1 crore 30 lakh population of the delta region due to land subsidence. Already thousands of acres of paddy and coconut growing areas are filled with saline water, making that land useless. In the Partnership Summit, GVK Power announced to expand their Gas based power plants hoping for enhanced gas production from KG Basin. In addition they would also set up coal based Power Plants.

 

Burning any more fossil fuels would worsen global warming and climate change and result in more devastation in a state that is sitting precariously on the verge of destruction. So that means more and more erratic climates for the farmers to deal with – either drought or a flood as has happened this year, resulting in not just a loss to the farmers but to all of us, who are heading towards food scarcity, if things continue as they do now.

In the same Partnership summit, a Somalia like situation came about, when the lunch got delayed by a couple of hours and the delegates literally grabbed for food unable to withstand their hunger. Lets hope at least with such incidents they may understand hunger, a hunger they are enforcing on hitherto self-sufficient rural folk, who in many parts continue to live without a bulb in their homes, but who are made to make way, for large “power projects”, providing electricity for people like Mr. Ambani to burn in his multi-storey lavish home, (which would have lit about a lakh of rural homes) and to run his Polyester empire. But the government policy favours energy intensive “industry” instead of helping ‘no energy’ industries like the Handloom sector.

 

The Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan in the state has announced to give free uniforms to 56 Lakh children studying in Government schools. Accordingly, an amount of 225 Crores was earmarked for the year 2011-12 towards supply of two pairs of uniforms per child. To procure the cloth for the uniforms, tenders were called from Composite Textile Mills. The handloom weavers’ representatives requested for the same order but for a higher cost, which would have meant an additional expense of 200 crores (which is 2 percent of the 10,000 crores the government earns from duty on liquor sales) but would provide work for 60,000 weavers for one whole year and a demand for the cotton grown by the farmers. Giving the same to a couple of textile mills would mean the use of polyester yarn which incidentally helps big industry like Reliance or Sanghi. However, the state government had no response to the weavers’ representative’s suggestion. If this order can be renewed every year, it can ensure regular employment to the weavers and would stop migration of weavers to other places looking for work.

 

But, of course they have funds to spend 100 crores to conduct road shows to attract participants to the Partnership Summit.  In just ten years, from 1995-2005, nearly 1 lakh crore subsidies and tax benefits were given to the modernization of Textile industry. A policy decision that has broken the back of the Handloom industry (which provides livelihood for nearly 10 crore people including weavers, farmers and natural fibre producers) as it could not compete in an unfair atmosphere. The 2011-12 budget allocated 5,855 crores to the Textile Industry, of which the budget allocation for Handloom industry is 431 crores! With the new National Fibre policy, which favours man-made fibres over natural fibres, it would mean a death knell for the Handloom. Governments that are bent upon wiping out rural livelihoods and pushing the rural folk to beg in Greater Cities can certainly not hear the hunger cries of the farmer or the weaver.

 

Saraswati Kavula

NAPM

Group. The Greed : Mega RevolutionFoundations, Agribusiness Muscle In On Public Goods

Big Agribusiness Influence Threatens to Override Public Interest in Greed Revolution

A new 30-page report that documents the growing influence of agribusiness on the multilateral food system and the lack of transparency in research funding has been released today by the international civil society organization ETC Group. The Greed : Mega RevolutionFoundations, Agribusiness Muscle In On Public Goods presents three case studies – one involving the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and two involving CGIAR Centers (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) – which point to a dangerous trend that will worsen rather than solve the problem of global hunger. The report details the involvement of, among others, Nestlé, Heineken, Monsanto, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Syngenta Foundation.

“It is unacceptable that the UN is giving multinational agribusiness privileged access to alter their agricultural policies,” said Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group, who has been involved in the field for 40 years. “It is ridiculous that the key organizations responsible for agricultural research have no credible data on the extent of corporate involvement in their work and that CGIAR’s biggest funder – at $89 million – is somebody called, ‘Miscellaneous!’ Governments and UN secretariats have forgotten that their first task is to serve the public – not the profiteers.”

The report shows that multinational corporations are now seeing their future profitability in “emerging economies,” and they are finally taking notice of the international institutions that have been quietly working throughout the global South for half a century. However this new interest in UN agencies is causing “mandate-muddle” as companies demand that policy be rewritten to better reflect their interests, including allowing privileged access to publicly held germplasm. Public institutions are tending to look the other way when Big Ag harms peasant agriculture.

“Public institutions related to food and agriculture are mandated to support the poor and hungry.

Governments need to address the big- and small-scale conflicts of interest, beginning with a long overdue investigation of the links between the international public and private sectors in food and agriculture. Based on our initial conversations with UN officials about this research, we are hopeful that this will happen,”donate concludes Mooney.

 

For more information:

Pat Mooney, ETC Group (Ottawa), etc@etcgroup.org+1 613 241 2267; cell: +1 613 240 0045

Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group (Mexico City), silvia@etcgroup.org+52 55 5563 2664;  cell: +52 1 55 2653 3330

—–

Bt cotton seed companies requests AP govt to increase the seed prices

As usual this year also the AP Seedmen Association made a request to the state government to increase seed prices as their production costs are going up.  As you are aware last year the prices went up from Rs. 600 to rs. 830 and rs. 750 to rs. 930 for single gene and double gene technologies respectively.  The argument was that argument was that farmers got better harvest and good market price (upto rs. 6500/q).

This year the companies are demanding an increase up to rs. 950/packet of single gene and Rs. 1050 for a packet of double gene bt cotton.

here we need to know that from companies own data, the companies are only paying Rs. 288/450 g of cotton seed. in reality they pay much less.   The trait fee for single gene is Rs. 109.43 and Rs. 180.10 (including service tax).  Even with this there is a clear profit for the seed industry.

This year the cotton prices have fallen to Rs. 3500/q and there is a vast area where bt cotton crop failed.  The industry has not taken any responsibility even for the losses due to seed failure and pest attack.

In this situation we feel Government should not agree for price rise at all and maintain the stausquo.

Ramanjaneyulu

Centre for Sustainable Agriculture

Veg or Non-Veg? India at Cross Roads a report by Brighter Green

A new policy paper, Veg or Non-Veg? India at the Crossroads (PDF), published by Brighter Green, a New York-based public policy action tank. Using the entry point of climate change, the paper documents the effects of the expansion and intensification of the livestock sector for India’s food security, resource utilization, and issues of equity and sustainability. Through data and analysis, as well as on-the-ground reporting by associate Sangamithra Iyer, Brighter Green explores whether India, with a long vegetarian tradition, a fast-urbanizing and growing population, an expanding middle class, as well as millions of people experiencing food insecurity, can—or should—use its natural capital to produce (and export) more animal products in an increasingly industrial landscape. Our hope is that this detailed research is a valuable contribution to current and future deliberations on the crucial interplay between climate change and food security within India, as well as in the international arena, where industrial animal agriculture is not yet a central topic.

 

Veg or Non-Veg? India at the Crossroads (PDF), can be read or downloaded online at: http://www.brightergreen.org/files/india_bg_pp_2011.pdf 

two-page summary policy brief (PDF) can be read or downloaded online at: http://www.brightergreen.org/files/india_brief_bg_4.pdf

 

Brighter Green has also produced three short videos to accompany the policy paper:

To watch a short documentary video on climate change and India’s poultry sector, visit:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClpXIzSzNoM&feature=player_embedded

To watch a two-part documentary video on climate change and India’s dairy and beef sectors, visit: http://brightergreen.org/a.php?id=47

 

Additional policy papers and short videos for Brazil, China, and Ethiopia, produced as part of Brighter Green’s Food Policy and Equity Program, are also available, as follows:

 

·  Cattle, Soyanization, & Climate Change: Brazil’s Agricultural Revolution (PDF). Policy brief available here (PDF):  Video here.

·  Skillful Means: the Challenges of China’s Encounter with Factory Farming (PDF). Policy brief available here (PDF):  Video here.

·  Climate, Food Security, & Growth: Ethiopia’s Complex Relationship with Livestock (PDF). Policy brief available here (PDF):  Video here.

 

 

Policy Opportunities for Agroecology

http://www.ukfg.org.uk/orfc2012/

A strategy session to discuss policy opportunities to promote ecological and equitable models of sustainable food production and consumption.

Friday 6th January, 13:30 to 15:30, Old Law Library


Chaired by: Patrick Mulvany

Speakers: Julia Wright, Geoff Tansey, Michel Pimbert

While “local food webs”, many of them ecological, will continue to feed most people in the world, “top-level processes” will grab the headlines. Some will culminate in 2012, including the UN Rio+20 conference and the launch of the ‘Green Economy’. Other UN processes, on the governance of food, biodiversity and climate change will continue to seek sustainable outcomes. In Europe, CAP reforms will be a hot topic. The UK will stage a global scientific event “Planet under Pressure” which will discuss solutions, at all scales, to move societies on to a sustainable pathway, providing scientific leadership towards Rio+20.

In this context, the session will focus on how to change mindsets towards the benefits of ecological and equitable models of sustainable food production and consumption in the UK, Europe and Internationally. What opportunities exist for the UK’s and the world’s pressure groups to influence thinking and the outcomes? How can the small-scale food producers’ policy proposal of food sovereignty take root – a proposal which addresses all aspects of sustainability?

The session will ask questions about the UK’s food footprint in its export of unsustainable models of production to other regions. Also questions about the UK’s demands from other regions for commodities produced industrially using British technologies and products may be addressed. These are topics that are also likely to feature prominently in discussions in the run-up to the UK’s 2013 Presidency of G8/G20.


AGENDA & PRESENTATIONS

Audio is available in both Windows Media (WMA) and MP3 formats

Welcome

Introduction: Patrick Mulvany – opportunities to promote ‘Ecological Food Provision’ in the framework of food sovereignty (8 min) Presentation (PDF 130Kb);  Audio (WMA 1Mb);  Audio (MP3 1.2Mb)

Julia Wright: how to ‘Change Mindsets’ towards the benefits of ecological and equitable models of sustainable food production and consumption in the UK (13 min) Presentation (PDF 280Kb)Audio (WMA 1.7Mb)Audio (MP3 2.4Mb)

Michel Pimbert: how to promote thinking about the ‘Transformation of the Food System’at all levels so that it puts the realisation of food sovereignty at its heart (13 min)Presentation (PDF 860Kb)Audio (WMA 1.7Mb)Audio (MP3 2.4Mb)

Geoff Tansey: why and how food is at the heart choosing our future world, who’ll dominate it, in part through the ‘New Enclosures’ facilitated by the extension to living systems of the global patent regime, etc (15 min) Presentation (PDF 247Kb)Audio (WMA 2Mb)Audio (MP3 2.9Mb)

Discussion We will discuss and seek ideas about how to develop and occupy policy and communications spaces, identifying who will help achieve this. Panel Comments (11 Min) Audio (WMA 1.4Mb)Audio (MP3 1.9Mb)

Actions: for example, developing work in support of the APPG Agroecology – proposal for a UK Agroecology Alliance. Download PDF of UK Agroecology Alliance paper (250kb)

Final Discussion and Panel comments (26 min) Audio (WMA 3.2Mb)Audio (MP3 4.6Mb)

 

Fertilizer subsidy bill may touch Rs. 95,000 cr


http://www.livemint.com/2011/11/10223616/Fertilizer-subsidy-bill-may-to.html

New Delhi: India’s spending on fertilizer subsidy for selling the farming ingredient below market price is expected to rise 12% in the current fiscal compared with the government’s estimates in February, according to the fertilizer ministry.

The fertilizer subsidy is expected to increase to Rs. 95,000 crore in the year to 31 March from the Rs. 85,000 crore estimate presented in the Union budget in February. The fertilizer ministry told the finance ministry about the increase in October, two officials independently said.

Fertilizer companies were allowed to set the retail prices of non-urea fertilizers such as diammonium phosphate (DAP) and muriate of potash (MoP) in April last year to cut the government’s spending on the products, but an increase in demand raised global prices, increasing the spending on subsidy.

About 75-80% of urea, which constitutes more than half the total fertilizer consumption in India, is produced locally, while the rest is imported. Most of the non-urea fertilizers is also imported, either as finished products or in intermediate forms.

Urea is still sold under the old regime, in which the government determines the market price of the product. The difference between the cost of production and the market price is paid as subsidy by the government.

Last year, urea contributed Rs. 23,900 to the fertilizer subsidy bill. The figure this year is likely to be at Rs. 24,500 crore. This, officials say, would mean that the figure for non-urea fertilizers will increase to about Rs. 70,500 crore this fiscal from about Rs. 61,100 crore in the year earlier.

Officials and analysts say that non-urea subsidy has ballooned mainly because consumption as well as the price at which the same are contracted in the international market have risen.

“The consumption of urea has remained steady in the last one year. Since the price of gas is regulated, the subsidy bill has not been impacted much,” said one of the two officials cited earlier.

An official of the Fertilizer Association of India, an industry lobby group, however, disputes this claim.

“Till April 2011, the government had fixed the subsidy for imported urea at $300 per tonne. This year, the figure has gone up to $350 per tonne. That should reflect in the subsidy figure for imported urea,” he said.

Out of the 27-28 million tonnes (mt) of urea India consumes each year, 6-7 mt is imported. The international spot price of urea is hovering in the range of $500-525 a tonne.

The fertilizer lobby group official said the subsidy bill in case of DAP and MoP has increased because the international long-contract price for both commodities has gone up substantially this year. While in 2010, the subsidy for DAP was fixed for a long-contract price of $500 per tonne, the same this year has been fixed at $612 per tonne. The prevailing spot price is around $680 per tonne. India annually consumes 10-11 mt of DAP, out of which 6-6.5 mt is imported.

For MoP, the 2010 subsidy was pegged at a contracting price of $350 per tonne; the same was increased to $420 per tonne this year. India imports about 5 mt of potash every year.

After price deregulation, companies trading in non-urea fertilizers have reaped profits, said Sanjay Jain​, director of Taj Capital, a New Delhi-based investment firm that has interests in the fertilizer sector.

“Companies that import phosphate and potash have seen their margins go up since prices were deregulated,” he said. This year, non-urea consumption is likely to go up by 7-8% over the nearly 30 million tonnes that India consumed in 2010-11, he said.

On 25 October, Mint had reported that the government was assessing the impact of non-urea price deregulation, even as it firms up a policy to deregulate urea prices.

After deregulation, retail prices of these fertilizers have seen an inordinate increase. While in April 2010 DAP was sold at a government-mandated retail price of Rs. 9,350 a tonne, the current price hovers at the Rs. 18,300 per tonne mark. The current subsidy on DAP is Rs. 19,673 a tonne. In case of MoP, the price has gone up from Rs. 5,055 per tonne in April 2010 to Rs. 11,300 now.

ADVERTISING STANDARDS COUNCIL OF INDIA CONCLUDES THAT MAHYCO MONSANTO BIOTECH’S CLAIMS ON BOLLGARD ARE NOT SUBSTANTIATED

Press Release of “Public Awareness on Genetically Modified Foods”

 

New Delhi, January 12th 2012: A prominent advertisement by Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Ltd titled “Bollgard boosts the Indian cotton farmers’ income by over Rs. 31,500 crores” that appeared in Hindustan Times on August 30th 2011, was found to be not substantiated in its claims by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). ASCI found that the claims made in the advertisement were not substantiated under the self regulation code I.1. of ASCI which has been laid down ‘to ensure the truthfulness and honesty of representations and claims made by advertisements and to safeguard against misleading advertisements’.

This advertisement was a part of the massive publicity campaign initiated by MMB when numerous prominent advertisements appeared in various national dailies in August 2011.

“This is a vindication of what we have been saying so far that claims on Bt cotton are hyped up and not based on facts. We are glad that the Advertising Standards Council of India’s Consumer Complaints Council deliberated on the issues raised by a complaint on the matter at length and arrived at this conclusion. I urge all those who are being misled by such advertisements to re-look at all facts available and arrive at rational and scientific conclusions on products like Bt cotton”, said Rachna Arora of ‘Public Awareness on Genetically Modified Food’, a group working to create informed debates on this matter.

Rachna Arora, in her complaint to ASCI dated the same date as the date of the appearance of the advertisement (Aug 30th 2011), challenged the claims made with regard to Bollgard technology by the advertisers, on Reduced Insecticide Usage, on Increased Yields, on Increased Farmer Incomes, on Inbuilt Plant Protection and on Increase of Income of Farmers by Rs. 31500 crores and pointed out that these claims are either false or unsubstantiated.

ASCI had forwarded the complaint to the advertiser for their comments. ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council then discussed the complaint in a meeting held on November 22nd 2011 and the observations of the CCC were also reviewed with the advertiser subsequently. After completing this process also, the CCC upheld the complaint of Rachna Arora and concluded that the claims made in the advertisement and cited in the complaint, were not substantiated.

The CCC of the ASCI upheld the complaint made by Rachna Arora  “as the advertisement contravened Chapter I. 1. of the ASCI code” which states the following:

Advertisements must be truthful. All descriptions, claims and comparisons which relate to matters of objectively ascertainable fact should be capable of substantiation. Advertisers and advertising agencies are required to produce such substantiation as and when called upon to do so by the Advertising Standards Council of India.

Monsanto was earlier fined 15000 Euros in France in January 2007 after being found guilty of false advertising with regard to its herbicide. In May 2010, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa found the claims made by Monsanto through an advertisement called, “Is Your Food Safe? Biotechnology: The True Facts” in a magazine to be unsubstantiated and asked for the advertisement to be withdrawn immediately.

“This goes to show that this is a repeated feature in the claims made on its products by Monsanto and its associates and companies like Monsanto are having to resort to spending their resources on such advertisements even as the general public is awakening to the dangers of transgenic and other toxic products”, said Rachna.

For more information, contact:

Rachna Arora : +91 9811746647

 

===========================

 

ANNEXURES: CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN ASCI & RACHNA ARORA VERMA

 

On Monday, January 2, 2012, ASCI <asci@vsnl.com> wrote:

Further to our e-mail of 7th December 2011, the complaint was considered by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) at their meeting held on 22nd November.

As per their decision, the complaint has been UPHELD as the advertisement contravened Chapter I.1 of the ASCI Code.    The CCC concluded that the claims made in the advertisement and cited in the complaint, were not substantiated.

In response to the CCC decision, the Advertiser has informed us that the said Ad has been modified.

Thank you for having referred this complaint to us.

Assuring you of our services in the pursuit of Self-Regulation in Advertising.

Alan  Collaco
Secretary  General
A S C I

========================

From: ASCI <asci@vsnl.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 6:51 PM
Subject: C.3738 – Your complaint against the advertisement of “Bollgard”, which appeared in the Hindustan Times, New Delhi dated 30th August 2011
To: rachna01@gmail.com
Cc: asci@vsnl.com

Further to our letter No.C.3738 dated 17th October  2011, the complaint under reference was taken up for discussion at the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) meeting held on 22nd November 2011.

 

The information provided by the Advertiser was deliberated at length and the issues involved were reviewed.

 

We are in the process of reviewing with the Advertiser, the observations made at the meeting.  We shall advise you of the outcome by 22nd December.

 

Alan  Collaco

Secretary  General

A S C I

 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Rachna <rachna01@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Subject: {swaraj yatra planning} False and misleading advertisement by Monsanto Mahyco Biotech limited
To: asci@vsnl.comalan@ascionline.org
Cc: swarajyatraplanning@googlegroups.com

Dear Sir,

 

Please find attached my complaint regarding a false and misleading advertisement in The Hindustan Times dated 30th August 2011, New Delhi edition.  I attempted to file an online complaint but could not do so due to a server error on the ASCI website. I am attaching the screen shot of the error response for your information and action.

 

I have filled up the downloadable form from your website and have attempted to provide all relevant information for your information.  Please feel free to contact me for any additional information that you might need to take action against the multi national organisation indulging in unfair practices.

 

The internet link to the said advertisement is given below. I am also attaching the screen shot of the advertisement for your convenience.

http://epaper.hindustantimes.com/PUBLICATIONS/HT/HD/2011/08/30/index.shtml

 

I request you to stop all advertisements and paid news  by Monsanto-MahycoBiotech limited and associated organisations immediately till this complaint is resolved. Please acknowledge receipt and update me regarding the action taken by your esteemed organisation.

 

Thanks and regards

NOTE: News that Monsanto is in trouble in India over its advertising claims for GM cotton, need to be seen in context:
1.France: Monsanto guilty in ‘false ad’ row
2.UK: Watchdog slams Monsanto ads
3.South Africa: Falsified GM food safety claims rejected
For more on the Indian decision:
http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/13606


1.Monsanto guilty in ‘false ad’ row
BBC News, 15 October 2009
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8308903.stm

France’s highest court has ruled that US agrochemical giant Monsanto had not told the truth about the safety of its best-selling weed-killer, Roundup.

The court confirmed an earlier judgment that Monsanto had falsely advertised its herbicide as “biodegradable” and claimed it “left the soil clean”.

The company was fined 15,000 euros (£13,800; $22,400). It has yet to comment on the judgment.

Roundup is the world’s best-selling herbicide.

Monsanto also sells crops genetically-engineered to be tolerant to Roundup.

French environmental groups had brought the case in 2001 on the basis that glyphosate, Roundup’s main ingredient, is classed as “dangerous for the environment” by the European Union.

In the latest ruling, France’s Supreme Court upheld two earlier convictions against Monsanto by the Lyon criminal court in 2007, and the Lyon court of appeal in 2008, the AFP news agency reports.

Earlier this month, Monsanto reported a fourth quarter loss of $233m (£147m), driven mostly by a drop in sales of its Roundup brand.


2.Watchdog slams Monsanto ads
John Arlidge
The Observer, 28 February 1999
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/1999/feb/28/food.foodanddrink

Monsanto, the US company at the centre of the storm over genetically modified food, has been condemned for making ‘wrong, unproven, misleading and confusing’ claims in a GBP1m advertising campaign.

The ruling, by the Advertising Standards Authority, the industry’s official watchdog, is a humiliating blow to the company which is struggling to persuade sceptical consumers that food from genetically modified crops is safe.

The Observer has obtained a draft report on the authority’s investigation into more than 30 complaints about Monsanto’s advertisements. It says the US giant expressed its own opinion ‘as accepted fact’ and published ‘wrong’ and ‘misleading’ scientific claims.

The Green Party and food safety campaigners who are campaigning for a total ban on GM food welcomed the ruling yesterday. Patrick Spring, of the Green Party, said: ‘Monsanto has been caught out misleading the public. They should apologise to consumers and print a retraction in full-page newspaper ads.

‘If they are prepared to hoodwink the public, what have they been telling their friends in Government? We know they have been lobbying ministers and officials to try to get their products onto supermarket shelves. Have they been economical with the truth? The public need answers.’

The Greens, GeneWatch, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Soil Association and members of the public wrote to the Advertising Standards Authority last year complaining that Monsanto had breached the ASA’s rules.

The series of commercials, by the London-based advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, began with a full-page ad which read: ‘Food biotechnology is a matter of opinions. Monsanto believes you should hear all of them.’

Over the next few weeks the company went on to describe ‘the real benefits of biotechnology for both consumers and the environment’. GM foods were ‘grown in a more environmentally sustainable way, less dependent on the earth’s scarce mineral resources’.

GM technology had undergone ‘rigorous tests throughout Monsanto’s 20-year biotech history to ensure our food crops are as safe and nutritious as the standard alternatives’. Government agencies in 20 countries, including Britain, had approved them as safe.

In its report the ASA criticised the firm for wrongly giving the impression that genetically modified potatoes and tomatoes had been tested and approved for sale in Britain. The authority also dismissed Monsanto’s assertion that GM crops were grown ‘in a more environmentally sustainable way’ than ordinary crops as unproven.

Monsanto has seven days to challenge the draft report before it is submitted to the full council of the ASA. If it is approved, the criticism will be published in full next month.

Dan Verakis, spokesman for Monsanto, expressed disappointment last night at the ASA’s report but pointed out that some advertisements had already been amended.

‘We were the first biotech company to attempt to explain this complicated science and to help consumer understand it better. We expected it to be controversial and we expected the activist industry to be very critical,’ he said. ‘We do not wish to mislead anyone.’


3.Falsified GM food safety claims rejected by South Africa
Trevor Wells
Farmers Legal Action Group – South Africa
http://www.gmfreecymru.org/documents/monsanto_slammed.htm

On 26 June 2006 Farmers legal Action-South Africa published an article headed “Monsanto tells a pack of lies in South Africa”. See article below. The article exposed how Monsanto had told the South African Advertising Authority (ASA) that MON 863 was not their product. MON 863 was in fact their product and had been found to cause damage to rats in independent trials in Europe. Monsanto had in fact made an application for this product to be released in South Africa. The ASA ordered Monsanto SA to withdraw its advert which depicted a mother with two children in a kitchen looking at a cake. Among other false claims the advert stated “no negative reactions to GM foods have ever been reported”. The advert also falsely claimed that genetically modified foods contained enhanced proteins, vitamins and anti-oxidants and removed allergens. Whilst there was an uproar from responsible parenting organisations and in fact proof that no commercial GM products had ever been commercially rele
ased
with
the enhanced claims, the ASA found it unnecessary to deal with those aspects. It ordered the removal of the advert based on the false claim that “No negative reactions to GM foods have ever been reported.” During the hearing, Monsanto attempted to distract the worthy panel of arbitrators, headed by Justice King, a no non-sense judge who rose to fame as the doyen of “Corporate Governance”, by arguing the merits of GM products as against the truthfulness of their claims. They produced a letter from Covance Laboratories in the USA, which claimed that they were an independent laboratory and which “praised the benefits of GM Corn.” Justice King ruled that the benefits of GM corn had nothing to do with the case in front of them.

Covance Laboratories have a history of abuse and have been fined on several occasions in Europe and the USA for the appalling conditions under which experiments are conducted and for outright vicious treatment of laboratory animals. Their track record is second only to Monsanto’s long history of convictions for racketeering, bribery and corruption. Covance was used by big tobacco to produce propaganda which was also proved false

Monsanto clearly lives under the misconception that South African judges are stupid, because apart from the serious submissions mentioned above they would not have presented Covance Laboratories as an “independent” source in order to verify their safety claim. Covance, USA’s support of Monsanto is even more surprising given the fact that European researchers employed by Covance Laboratories (Europe) discovered and reported numerous biological effects on rats fed MON863, i.e. blood stream anomalies that varied by sex (increase in white blood cell levels and lymphocytes in males, decrease in new red blood cells in females, increase in female blood sugar levels, in addition to renal lesions (inflammations, kidney stones) and variations in kidney weight.

The ink on the judgement ordering the withdrawal of this false advert had hardly dried when, on 21 August 2007, Kobus Steenkamp, Marketing Manager for Monsanto, issued this statement headed: “ASA accepts Monsanto’s ‘GM Is Safe’ advertisement” Monsanto’s Steenkamp added: “The Advertising Standards Authority has now approved this advertisement and accepts that the facts have been verified by independent and reliable sources.” He added “The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA has accepted the revised wording from Monsanto, which states, ” no substantiated scientific or medical negative reactions to GM foods have ever been reported”. According to the article “Another spin by GM Giant Monsanto” published by The South African NGO net ,the Advertising Standards Authority categorically denied Monsanto’s statement.

Monsanto’s however went ahead and published their advert with the same picture and wording except for the added “No substantiated medical or scientific ……”.

Mark Wells, the organic farmer, and founder member of Farmers Legal Action Group, South Africa who was the successful applicant in the previous incident, once more challenged the advert.

On 19 December 2007 Judge King of the ASA ruled that despite the amended wording not being exactly the same, the overall communication remains unchanged. A hypothetical reasonable person would interpret the claim to mean that tests were conducted in this regard and no negative reactions were found The Respondent, Monsanto, is therefore found guilty of breaching the previous ruling.

Monsanto tells a pack of lies to the Advertising Standards Authority
Trevor Wells
Farmers’ Legal Action Group – South Africa

Mark Wells, an organic farmer from Cintsa on the Wild Coast, South Africa, challenged the claim of a Monsanto advert that no negative reactions to Genetically Modified food have been reported. The false claim was made in the Monstanto advert which appeared in the widely read “You Magazine” on February 15th, 2007. Wells produced evidence to repudiate the claim.

An arbitration panel consisting of eight members was chaired by former High Court Judge Mervyn King SC whose cutting edge ‘King Report on Corporate Governance’ is hailed as the best practice corporate governance bible.

In view of the prima facie evidence produced by the complainant, the ASA opened the proceedings by stating that the matter before them for consideration was whether the advert was in breach of two sections of the Code of Practice:

1. Substantiation 2. Misleading claims

Dealing with the substantiation section first the ASA ruled that the onus is on the advertiser to substantiate the claim.

Monsanto addressed the ASA at length and submitted inter alia that it had a strict code of conduct and that MON 863 was not their product.

The facts are that MON 863 is indeed a product of Monsanto and that Monsanto had suppressed the evidence of serious damage to the liver and kidneys of rats in their own GM maize trials until ordered to release this evidence by a German Court. Furthermore Monsanto had applied to the South African GM regulatory authority for a commodity release permit for MON 863.

Monsanto then argued that after the rats had contracted liver damage Monsanto contracted five ‘independent’ scientists to assess the data supplied by them and they concluded that MON 863 had no adverse effect as claimed by the complainant.

Monsanto then changed their tack in mid-stream and argued that rather than focus on the two conflicting studies the ASA should focus on the benefits of GM maize.

The substantiation section of the code provides that any advertiser must be able to substantiate any claim objectively with documentary evidence which emanates from an independent, credible and expert source acceptable to the ASA. The ASA then invoked this clause.

Monsanto’s lawyers then pulled a letter out of the hat from Covance Laboratories in the USA which inter alia stated that they were not affiliated with Monsanto.

After applying their minds to the letter from Covance in the USA, Justice King ruled that the benefits of “GM-Corn” had nothing to do with the case in front of them. After having given Monsanto every opportunity to substantiate their claim they had failed to do so. The letter from Covenance made no mention of the issue which was before the ASA for consideration.

“The statement which the complainant alleges is false, to wit: ‘This is one of the most extensively tested and controlled types of food, and no negative reactions have ever been reported.’ goes beyond merely indicating safety. It expressly states that out of all the studies done in this field no negative effects have ever been reported.”

Without reference to the fact that Monsanto had wasted the time of an eight member panel and come to the hearing with dirty hands, Monsanto was politely informed that their claim was unsubstantiated and in breach of the Code of Practice. The ASA further ruled that as the claim was unsubstantiated it was not necessary to consider whether it was misleading.

Monsanto was ordered to immediately withdraw their claim and given the standard polite warning, which applies to all advertisers, that in future they must make sure that they can substantiate any claims before they publish them.

In January, this year, Monsanto was fined 15,000 euros (19,000 dollars) in a French court for misleading the public about the environmental impact of herbicide Roundup.

A former chairman of Monsanto Agriculture France was found guilty of false advertising for presenting Roundup as biodegradable and claiming that it left the soil clean after use. Monsanto’s French distributor Scotts France was also fined 15,000 euros.

In 2005 Monsanto was caught smuggling South African produced GM Bollgard cotton seed into Indonesia disguised as rice. Monsanto was fined for bribing Indonesian officials.

More recently in June this month, a second peer-reviewed case involving another variation of Monsanto’s GM maize, namely, NK603, has been shown by studies to be potentially toxic to humans. NK 603 has been approved for food, feed, processing, and propagation in Europe and the Philippines The new research, carried out by the French scientific research institute CRIGEN, involves biotech firm Monsanto’s NK603 GMO corn (marketed commercially under the name Round- up Ready) which was approved as food and feed in the country in 2003, and for propagation in 2005.

Rats that were fed GM maize showed significant differences in measurements, as well as significant weight differences compared to those fed with normal maize. Almost 70 statistically significant differences were observed and reported – 12 for hematology parameters, 18 for clinical chemistry parameters, nine for urine chemistry parameters, six for the organ weights (brain, heart, liver), 14 for body weights and body weight changes, and eight for food consumption. toxicity, The most alarming was the diminished brain size. Scientists warned that this was a danger warning for growing children.

Here is the unsubstantiated Monsanto’s advert which had to be withdrawn after the judgment:

Is your food safe?

Biotechnology – the true facts

The safety of genetically modified food products though biotechnology remains a subject of uncertainty to many people, but after more than twenty years’ of research and ten years’ commercial use, genetically modified grain products have been found to be just as healthy, nutritious and safe as normal products. All commercially approved grain products that have been genetically modified adhere to strict food, feed and environmental safety guidelines of regulatory authorities worldwide. This is one of the most extensively tested and controlled types of food, and no negative reactions have ever been reported. In fact, these innovative products also lead to food with improved nutritional value, which includes enhanced vitamin A, protein and antioxidant content, as well as better food safety through the removal of allergens and anti-nutrients. In short, you can use it with confidence!

Tested. Healthy. Nutritious. Safe.

Experts voice apprehension over food security : 100 yrs of paddy research and beyond

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/article2788316.ece?homepage=true&ref=wl_home

COIMBATORE, JAN. 9:
Government officials and ICAR experts today urged rice scientists to wake up to reality and ensure food security for all in the coming years.

In a nutshell, the officials, while stating that the foodgrain production scenario looked comfortable at present, voiced apprehension about the future in view of the erratic weather patterns on the one hand and the need for meeting the demands from the rising population on the other.

Mr V. Venkatachalam, Special Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, said that while there has been a four-fold increase in rice production from 1950 onwards, the challenge would be in increasing productivity in the coming years in the face of changing climate and scarce water resources.

He was speaking at the Centenary Celebration of the Paddy Breeding Station and Inauguration of ‘International Symposium on 100 years of Rice Science and Looking Beyond’, at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University here.

“By 2050, foodgrain production would have to double to ensure food security to meet the growing population needs, which is expected to increase by almost 50 per cent. This increase in food grain production would not be possible if we do not make any breakthrough in research, make use of bio-technology, genomics, genetic engineering techniques and so on.”

“We have to strive to increase rice productivity and this cannot happen from increase in area under rice, but through crop intensity,’ he continued and highlighted the Government of India schemes such as the National Food Security Mission and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

He urged the scientists to evolve multi-stress tolerant varieties, such that it resists all types of natural calamities and climate change.

The Agricultural Production Commissioner and Secretary to Government of Tamil Nadu, Mr Sandeep Saxena, said the State’s mandate was in doubling foodgrain production and trebling the income of farmers, albeit with the support of the farm varsity.

“To make this possible, we will have to follow the scientific techniques in cultivation to bridge the yield gap. The State would address this issue by bridging the gap first at the village level, before moving to the block and district level and so on, so, Tamil Nadu is in the forefront in productivity of almost all crops within the next five years.”

Thus stating, he cautioned the scientists of the huge challenge that they would have to face in view of changes in climate. “The number of rainy days in a year are shrinking but intensity of the rain is on the rise; normal weather pattern is changing,’ he said adding ‘the cyclone Thane destroyed almost 2.2 lakh hectares of food crop in the State. We were sailing very well towards achieving a food grain target of 150 lakh tonnes till the three districts of Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Vizhupuram were hit badly by the cyclone, which devastated all crops.”

“These are furies of nature which may become more frequent in the times to come; the scientists will have to develop suitable varieties with properties to withstanding storm, wind and the challenges of water,” Mr Saxena said.

Dr Swapan K. Datta, Deputy Director-General (Crop Sciences), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said “even as we march towards achieving rice production target of 100 million tonnes this year, we should remember that a right policy would be driving force for tomorrow’s research and productivity.’

He said how with scientific intervention, policy decisions and management initiatives, the country’s rice productivity levels had risen from 800 kg/hectare to3.7 ton/hectare, while emphasising the need to remain more focused on basic science and rice research.