As Challenge over Seed Rights Approaches Supreme Court, New Report Exposes Devastating Impact of Monsanto Practices on U.S. Farmers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 12, 2013 – Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds Investigate Role of Seed Patents in Consolidating Corporate Control of Global Food Supply
Today, one week before the Supreme Court hears arguments in Bowman v. Monsanto Co., the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Save our Seeds (SOS) – two legal and policy organizations dedicated to promoting safe, sustainable food and farming systems – will launch their new report, Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers. (download)
The new report investigates how the current seed patent regime has led to a radical shift to consolidation and control of global seed supply and how these patents have abetted corporations, such as Monsanto, to sue U.S. farmers for alleged seed patent infringement.
Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers also examines broader socio-economic consequences of the present patent system including links to loss of seed innovation, rising seed prices, reduction of independent scientific inquiry, and environmental issues.
Debbie Barker, Program Director for Save Our Seeds and Senior Writer for the Report, said today: “Corporations did not create seeds and many are challenging the existing patent system that allows private companies to assert ownership over a resource that is vital to survival, and that, historically, has been in the public domain.”
Among the report’s discoveries are several alarming statistics:
The report also disputes seed industry claims that present seed patent rules are necessary for seed innovation. As Bill Freese, senior scientist at Center for Food Safety and one of the report’s contributors notes: “Most major new crop varieties developed throughout the 20th century owe their origin to publicly funded agricultural research and breeding.”
Additionally, Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers reports a precipitous drop in seed diversity that has been cultivated for millennia. As the report notes: 86% of corn, 88% of cotton, and 93% of soybeans farmed in the U.S. are now genetically-engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult.
While agrichemical corporations also claim that their patented seeds are leading to environmental improvements, the report notes that upward of 26 percent more chemicals per acre were used on GE crops than on non-GE crops, according to USDA data.
Further, in response to an epidemic of weed resistance to glyphosate, the primary herbicide used on GE crops, Dow AgroSciences is seeking USDA approval of “next generation” corn and soybeans resistant to 2,4-D, an active ingredient in Agent Orange. Monsanto is seeking approval for GE dicamba-resistant soybeans, corn, and cotton.
At the launch of the report via teleconference today, experts from the Center for Food Safety and Save our Seeds were joined by Mr. Vernon Hugh Bowman, the 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer who, next week, will come up against Monsanto in the Supreme Court Case. When asked about the numerous comparisons being drawn between his case and the story of David and Goliath, Mr. Bowman responded, “I really don’t consider it as David and Goliath. I don’t think of it in those terms. I think of it in terms of right and wrong.”
In December of 2012, the Center for Food Safety, and Save Our Seeds submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of Mr. Bowman, which supports the right of farmers to re-plant saved seed. Arguments in the case are scheduled for February 19th.
For the full report: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Seed-Giants_final.pdf
More information on the CFS and SOS can be found at: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org
Karnataka Government proposes to establish Farmers Income Commission in the new budget
The Karnataka Agriculture Budget for 2013-14 is at http://www.kar.nic.in/finance/
14. Creation of basic database of farmers and distribution of pass books: Database containing comprehensive information (land holding, category, address, facilities availed etc) of farmers has to be created with the integration of ‘Bhoomi’ project with the existing “Aadhar” database in the State. This information will be useful to enable greater attention hereafter for categories and areas which have got less importance till now and for formulating agriculture related policies. A pass book containing all this information will be provided to the farmers. A sum of Rs 15 crore will be spent to implement this programme by fully computerizing and web-enabling in
co-ordination with the E-governance department on a pilot basis in the districts of Mysore, Tumkur, Dharwad, where Aadhar project is completed. This programme will be extended to the other districts in a phased manner.
17. New MoU for improvement of life of farmers: With a view to improve the economic condition of the farmers along with agricultural wealth, Farmers Income Commission will be set up as per the recommendations of Dr. Swaminathan. In order to formulate a programme to protect the farmers of Karnataka from the effect of frequent droughts, the State Government has entered into a MoU with 9 international C.G.I.A.R1 organisations. Basic status survey and activities as per the action plan are under progress in one district each in the four revenue divisions (Tumkur, Chikkamagaluru, Bijapur and Raichur) for implementation of the said programme. Rs.50 crore will be provided as funding to extend this programme to all the districts in the coming years in a phased manner.
19. Suvarna Bhoomi Scheme: Based on the demand from the farmers, the scheme will be continued during this year and will be extended to the farmers growing millets such as Ragi, Jowar, Maize and Bajra. Rs.300 Crores will be provided for assisting 3 lakh beneficiaries under this scheme during the current year.
21. Preparation, certification and distribution of organic manure : High priority has been given to organic farming in the State during the last 4 years and my Government is implementing Amruth Bhoomi scheme by constituting Organic Farming Mission. Organic village programme will be extended and will be implemented in 240 acres in each Hobli under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojane. In view of increasing demand for organic manure, it is proposed to handover its manufacturing, certification and internal control by
APEDA identified agencies and marketing to non- Governmental organisations which are experts in this field and to encourage them, a sum of Rs 100 crores is proposed.
22. Own Seed Development Scheme: As there is high demand by the farmers for good quality seeds, it is necessary to encourage production of certified seeds. For this purpose own seed development scheme will be implemented by seed production centres of
agriculture department in collaboration with various seed production corporations/boards/private farms of the State. To encourage seed production in selected villages at Hobli level, infrastructure facilities like fee concession for seed certification, construction of seed storage godowns, construction of threshing yards and equipments required for processing will be provided. Rs. 55 crores will be provided for this purpose.
25. Solar power pump sets : There are 18 lakh irrigation pump sets in the State and their electricity consumption is increasing. Karnataka Solar Energy Scheme will be formulated to make up for the shortage of electricity, to adopt modern technology and to install solar power based pump sets, where ever possible. Initially this scheme will be implemented in 4 districts (one each in every revenue division). On the basis of its evaluation after implementation, Rs.50 crores will be provided in the first phase for extension to the other districts.
33. Development of vegetable gardens in schools to overcome malnutrition: To compensate for deficiency of vitamin A and B in the children of North Karnataka (especially in Gulbarga, Raichur, Koppal, Bidar, Bellary, Bijapur and Bagalkot districts) who are
suffering from malnutrition, it is proposed to grow fruits and vegetables in kitchen gardens, school gardens, community parks and such other places and supply to children. About 50 lakh children will be benefitted at a cost of Rs.2.5 crore during the year 2013-14.
73. In order to provide necessary warehouse facilities and to enable farmers to get warehouse based loans, necessary infrastructure facilities will be provided in a scientific manner in 19 places of the State (Hubli, Bijapur, Raichur, Bidar, Gadag, Bagalkot, Sankeshwara, Ranebennur, Harihara, Davanagere, Challakere, Chitradurga, Bharamasagara, Gundlupet, Soraba, Chamarajanagar, Santemaranahalli, Mysore and Kollegala).
• A web portal has been started in 2012-13 for online disposal of farmers’ subsidy applications and to avoid delay in the payment of subsidy. So far 11,820 applications have been received through the web portal.
The book presents the current state of thought on the common path of sustainable diets and biodiversity. The articles contained herein were presented at the International Scientific Symposium “Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets: United Against Hunger” organized jointly by FAO and Bioversity International, held at FAO, in Rome, from 3 to 5 November 2010. The Symposium was part of the
official World Food Day/Week programme, and include done of the many activities in celebration of International Year of Biodiversity, 2010. The Symposium addressed the linkages among agriculture, biodiversity, nutrition, food production, food consumption and the environment.
The Symposium served as a platform for reaching a consensus definition of “sustainable diets” and to further develop this concept with food and nutrition security, and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, as objectives. In the early 1980s, the notion of “sustainable diets”was proposes, with dietary recommendations whichwould result in healthier environments as well as healthier consumers. But with the over-riding goal of feeding a hungry world, little attention was paid tothe sustainability of agro–ecological zones, the sustainable diets’ concept was neglected for many years.
Regardless of the many successes of agriculture during the last three decades, it is clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. FAO data show that one billion people suffer from hunger,while even more people are overweight or obese. In both groups, there is a high prevalence of micronutrient malnutrition. In spite of many efforts, the nutrition problems of the world are escalating. Improving nutrition through better balanced nutritious diets can also reduce the ecological impact of dietary choices. Therefore, a shift to more sustainable diets would trigger upstream effects on the food production (e.g. diversification), processing chain and food consumption.
With growing academic recognition of environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, as well as a dramatically increasing body of evidence of the unsustainable nature of agriculture as it is currently practiced in many parts of the world, renewed attention
has been directed to sustainability in all its forms, including diets. Therefore, the international community acknowledged that a definition, and a set of guiding principles for sustainable diets, was urgently needed to address food and nutrition security
as well as sustainability along the whole food chain A working group was convened as part of the Symposium and a definition was debated, built upon previous efforts of governments (e.g., the Sustainability Commission of the UK), UN agencies (FAO/Bioversity Technical Workshop and Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets), and others. The definition was presented in a plenary session of the
Symposium and accepted by the participants, as follows: Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective
and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources. The agreed definition acknowledged the interdependencies of food production and consumption with food requirements and nutrient recommendations, and at the same time, reaffirmed the notion that the health of humans cannot be isolated from the health of ecosystems.
Compiled by Rosemary Mason MB ChB FRCA on behalf of a global network of beekeepers, toxicologists,
scientists, farmers and environmentalists. Within it, Georgina Downs, founder of the UK Pesticides
Campaign, has given a summary her evidence
Munich/ Berlin 01.02.2013
Today in Berlin a new report was published presenting a critical assessment of the consequences of the commercial cultivation of genetically engineered plants in the US. The first genetically engineered plants were created 30 years ago in Europe and the US. Commercial growing in the USA began almost 20 years ago, but in the EU, acceptance of these crops is much lower. Nevertheless, companies are asking for further authorisations for cultivation, including in the EU. In the light of this development, past experience in the USA was assessed and recommendations made for the future handling of this technology in the EU. Some of the principal findings are:
Consequences for farmers: Because the weeds have adapted to the cultivation of the genetically engineered plants, farmers are experiencing a substantial increase in both working hours and the amounts of herbicide they require. Cultivation of insecticide-producing plants have led to “an arms race in the field” against the pest insects, which have adapted quickly. Genetically engineered plants have been created to produce up to six different toxins. Costs for seeds have increased dramatically, without there being a substantial increase in yields or significant savings in the amounts of spray required.
Impact on the seed market: The seed industry in the USA is largely dominated by agrochemical industries such as Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta. In future, it has to be expected that developments in the USA will be strongly influenced by the interests of agro-chemical companies pushing for the cultivation of genetically engineered plants.
Consequences for producers who avoid genetically engineered crops: Contamination with non-authorised genetically engineered plants has already caused billions of dollars worth of damage in the USA.
Consequences for consumers: Consumers are exposed to a whole range of risks regarding unintended substances from plant metabolism, from residues from complementary herbicides and from the properties of additional proteins produced in the plants. As yet, there is no way of monitoring the actual effects that consumption of these products might have.
Effects on the environment: The cultivation of genetically engineered plants is closely associated with a substantial increase in the amounts of herbicide required. In addition, there is also an increase in environmental exposure to certain insecticides. In particular, the cultivation of herbicide-resistant plants leads to a reduction in biodiversity. Genetically engineered rapeseed has already managed to escape from the fields into the environment from where it cannot be withdrawn, and from where it evades any adequate control.
The study was commissioned by Martin Häusling, Member of the Green Group in the European Parliament. The English version of the study is published by Testbiotech.
The full report is available at http://www.testbiotech.de/
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 28
The first ever state-wide survey of cancer victims in Punjab has revealed high incidence of cancer in the Malwa belt, even as the cancer cases in the state are only a little more than the national average.
The survey has also reported average cancer prevalence of 216 cases per lakh population and suspected cancer cases of 319 per lakh population. If these two figures are taken into account, it seems a large number of cancer cases have been going undetected till now and that cancer incidence figures in Punjab could be much more than have been reported even in this survey. This was confirmed by Secretary, Health Vini Mahajan.
According to the survey, the overall figure of 90 cases per lakh population is only slightly more than the national average of 80 cases per lakh population. The situation, however, is grim in the Malwa region. The Malwa region has reported 107 cancer cases per lakh population as compared to 88 cases per lakh in the Doaba region and 64 cases per lakh population in Majha.
The report, which was released by Health Minister Madan Mohan Mittal today, states that the Muktsar district in the Malwa region has witnessed 136 cancer cases per lakh population – the highest in the state. Mansa comes a close second with 134.8 cases per lakh population, Bathinda third with 125.8 cases and Ferozepur fourth with 114 cases per lakh population. The survey has taken into record cancer cases reported to state health department workers who carried out a door-to-door campaign.
In Doaba, the cancer incidence is highest in Kapurthala district, which has reported 99 cases per lakh population. The Majha belt has least number of cancer cases. Tarn Taran has the least number of cases (41).
The Health Minister said a total of 23,874 cancer cases had been reported in the survey. As many as 33,318 cancer deaths have occurred in the state in the last five years (the break up comes out to be 18 deaths per day.) The survey data reveals that there are 84,453 persons in the state who have cancer-like symptoms.
Download this from http://www.iwmi.cgiar.
Greenpeace India demands the Union Minister for Environment and Forest, Jayanthi Natarajan, under whom sits the GEAC, to stop all open releases of GM crops, including those for field trials
New Delhi: Jan 29, 2013: In a startling development an independent scientific analysis released by Greenpeace India exposed major flaws in the Genetically Modified (GM) corn biosafety assessment process by the regulatory bodies in India. Greenpeace India had asked Testbiotech, an independent research agency, to assess data presented by the US biotech giant, Monsanto, to the Indian authorities ‘for biosafety tests prior to commercial approval’ of its GM corn variety.
The stacked gene GM corn (MON89034xNK603 ) with bacterial genes for pest resistance and herbicide tolerance leads the GM crop approval pipeline and has been released into fields several times in the past 4 years in the name of field trials .
The biosafety and field trials data of the said GM corn data was accessed by Greenpeace through RTI procedures from the Department of Biotechnology(DBT) and Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which is the nodal agency for all environmental releases of GMOs in India. The RTI exercise also saw the CPIO of DBT being reprimanded by the Appellate Authority for providing wrong information to the applicant.
“On one hand the GM regulatory system in our country tries to hide crucial public information like the biosafety data of GM crops and on the other hand allows open field trials of them, which can lead to contamination of our food and seed supply chain. These field trials have been permitted for the last 4 years without biosafety studies being completed” said Shivani Shah, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner, Greenpeace India. According to the response received from DBT, these trials were permitted based on biosafety data generated by Monsanto itself in its labs in USA.
The Testbiotech analysis highlights that even those assessments’ presented have been found to be incomplete and lacking in scientific rigor. Interestingly most of the data provided was for the parent lines with the single genes with almost no studies on the stacked gene corn for which was the application.
The review report concluded that based on the data presented by Monsanto, no decisions can be taken on the safety of the plants. Apart from missing data and inadequate investigations, there are in fact substantial indications for health and environmental risks.
This stacked gene variety of Monsanto’s corn had been in controversy earlier in 2011 when Greenpeace had exposed grave violations of field trial rules by the company in its trials at Bijapur District in Karnataka.
In the light of increasing evidences of failure of the GM regulatory system in India and the potential impacts of GM crops to our health, environment and socioeconomic realities Greenpeace Indiademands the Union minister for Environment and Forest, Jayanthi Natarajan, under whom sits the GEAC, to stop all open releases of GM crops, including those for field trials.
Notes to the Editor:-