By Mudasir Sheikh
Each day, about 7.5 billion people work hard towards earning their livelihoods. Humans need food for survival. While some are able to have their meals easily; some are confronted with hardship; others have nothing to feed themselves and their families. Regarding food and agriculture, humanity is mainly face with two problems first one is hunger and second is malnutrition. According to Vandana Shiva, in India, every fourth individual is hungry, every third woman is severely malnourished and every second child is wasted. Statistics cs are even worse in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the African continent.
Researchers have found a strong correlation between hunger and corporate conspiracy for monopolizing seeds. The intentions of big business behind controlling seeds is not just profit but more than that, perhaps depopulating major parts of the earth.
Companies are modifying seeds through genetic engineering for increasing production and enhancing other desirable qualities in crops. When a seed is genetically modified, a patent is granted to the respective corporation for that seed. Monsanto is the biggest player in the field of genetically modified(GM) seeds. Monsanto is a US based multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation. It mainly produces GM seeds and glyphosate based herbicide which is available under brand name “Roundup” in the market.
Patent is granted on inventions but seed is not an invention. Then how can it is possible that a seed is patented? Patenting seeds means they have claimed for creating life in a lab. By patenting seeds, corporations like Monsanto have absolute control over cultivation and distribution of seeds.
Since the time, GM seeds were sown in India there has been 800% increase in seed prices, and 13 fold increases in pesticide use. Only a particular type of herbicide and fertilizer is used for cultivation of GM crops, which means Monsanto has monopoly not only on seeds but also on fertilizers and herbicides. In India, GM crops of cotton, soybean and maize are sown. These GM seeds, fertilizers and herbicides are very expensive. Financial assistance and subsidies are also given to those farmers who sow only GM seeds. As these seeds are costlier, it becomes impossible for a farmer to cultivate the crop at a profit. When they are trapped in huge debt, the only option left with them is suicide. Government statics in India have also concluded that farmer debt is a major cause for their suicides.
Things become more bizarre when someone else’s crop become cross pollinated with a GM crop, which has been sown in a neighborhood. Monsanto can sue the farmer for copy right infringement. Huge numbers of farmers have been sued in USA, India and other countries. The weak farmer usually loses in the legal battle against these big corporations. At last , they have to pay royalties to these corporations for crops which have no relation with that corporation.
GM seeds contain a terminator gene which leaves seeds sterile after harvest so they can’t be sown in the next season. Under Article 28 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement), “planting, harvesting, saving, re-planting, and exchanging seeds of patented plants, or of plants containing patented cells and genes, constitutes use,” and is prohibited by the intellectual property laws of signatory states. So, the farmer has to buy new seeds from a central supplier. Seeds used to be a renewable resource in the hands of farmers, but these selfish mega corporations have converted them into nonrenewable resource.
Officials within Monsanto claim that by using GM seeds of cotton, the production has doubled in India. Of course, the production of cotton has doubled, but not because of a technology but because of monoculture practices. Farmers used to grow a basket of crops which included cereals, vegetables and fruits. As the farming of this basket has been eliminated and only reduced to a single crop, it would definitely increase the quantity of that crop. The basket of crops provides a complete nutritious solution to the community. However, when it is eliminated, the people are suffering from malnutrition.
If the production of farmer has doubled, then why they are in debt to money lenders and are committing suicides? Monsanto is promoting monoculture practices of farming as their intention is to convert crops as a raw material for industrial use. The harvest of GM crops is used for making bio-plastics, bio-fuels and used for cleaning RDX and TNT explosive wastes. So the basic purpose of farming has been ignored. As a consequence, there are famines and severe malnutrition in third world countries
In developed countries like USA, about 91% of corn production is from the GMO seeds of Monsanto. The derivatives of this GM corn are used as ingredients in coke, milk, toothpaste, aspirin and varnish. GM corn is also used as an animal feed. These products are not only used in USA but are also exported to other countries. So, we can say that GM foods are all around us, but the prospects regarding health hazards of GM foods are very uncertain.
A study titled “Long Term Toxicity of Roundup Herbicide and Roundup Tolerant Genetically Modified Maize” published in “The journal Food and Chemical Toxicology” in November 2012 revealed that GM maize caused liver conjunctions, necrosis, tumour and early death in rats. There is , however, no large scale, long term study on the effects of GM crops. Organisations like “the Institute for Responsible Technology” argue that the science behind gene therapy is inherently unpredictable and unsafe.
In post war Iraq, Monsanto forced farmers to use GM seeds for cultivating their crops. In USA, farmers have accused Monsanto for having deliberately planted GM plants in their fields and later they sued them for royalties. Monsanto wants to make all crops as one of their patented seed lines. As Henry Kissinger once said, “Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world”. So, in a nutshell GM seeds are being used by the elites to impoverish the farmers of third world, to confiscate their land and to depopulate the major part of earth.
The author is an MBA and MPhil. He can be reached at: [email protected]