What is the rush for Indians to be the world’s first guinea-pigs for Bt Brinjal, bearing a pesticide secreting bacterial gene? A brinjal pregnant with poison! The same toxin in Bt Cotton was aimed at the bollworm, but did not know where to stop killing. Thousands of cattle died grazing on the Bt crop residues. Thousands of Bt cotton farmers were driven to suicide. And yet, Bt in our brinjal widely consumed, inexpensive, and in no short supply? Why?
India is the global centre of origin with over 2,500 varieties of brinjal. Bt Brinjal will progressively contaminate these, violating the farmers’ right to grow and save their own seeds, free of ruinous pollution. With over 50 more GM crops in the pipeline, this Open Letter draws attention to the most serious, far-reaching and irreversible consequences (posed) to human, animal and environmental health, and to the very food security and sovereignty of India. Most nations, including much of Europe, prohibit GM crops.
Within India, Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal that grow 60% of brinjals produced in India overwhelmingly oppose Bt Brinjal. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh too oppose it. Not one state has pleaded in its favour. The Supreme Court appointee an eminent scientist, Dr PM Bhargava declared, Some 30 tests are needed! Monsanto (not the government) has done less than 10; and we have no facility in the country to determine whether the tests were actually done, leave aside their validity.
The longest toxicity tests were for only 90 days. Nearly half the global trade in seeds is already controlled by a handful of MNCs. Leading GM seed companies like Monsanto, Du Pont, Syngenta, Bayer are also the top pesticide companies in the world. Overall, there has been increased consumption of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and irrigation with Bt Cotton and other GM crops. Resistant species of super weeds and super pests have emerged. Ironically, many beneficial insects and microbes helpful to farmers, are damaged by the Bt crops.
The Chairperson of India’s Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board projected that even a 6% expansion in GM crop area would lead to a doubling of chemical fertilizer use! Already, India’s annual fertilizer subsidy is a whopping Rs 1.2 lakh crore. The IAASTD Report by over 400 scientists, endorsed by 58 countries including India, noted that GM crops are not the answer to hunger, poverty or climate change.Organic mixed cropping is the safer, saner path — with multiple benefits that India needs to follow!