February 13, 2015

GMO News Summary February 13, 2015


*In India, the new state government of Maharashtra will allow field trials of GM cotton, maize, rice, brinjal (eggplant), and chickpea. Maharashtra issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC), allowing the central government to approve the trials. In India the states have the right to refuse to allow field trials within their territory. Most states have refused to issue these NOCs, and so field trials are officially disallowed. Delhi University also received approval to trial GM mustard. The rationales given for these field trials are typical scams – that they’re testing “drought resistant” and “nitrogen efficiency” GMOs. Neither of these exists. This comes even as crashing commodity prices at harvest time this year cost Indian cotton and maize farmers vast revenue (Rs 12000 crore), while state farmer supports continue to be eroded. A recent study found that from 1996 to 2013 the government’s Minimum Support Price for a range of industrial crops including maize, cotton, and soybeans has only covered 45-72% of farmer costs. Farming in India becomes increasingly unviable for any but the richest farmers.
*Undeterred by the poor agronomic and economic (for the farmers) results of its first season of a demonstration commercial release of four Bt brinjal varieties, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) plans to release five more varieties this year. This project, developed by Mahyco and funded by BARI and USAID (corporate welfare, all profits to go to Monsanto-Mahyco) is going forward in spite of the fact that it has zero rationale, was an economic disaster for many of the farmers who participated in the first season, that the crops performed poorly, thast Mahyco’s own tests found toxic effects, that BARI has gone ahead with these releases without performing the slightest environmental or health assessments, that there exist over 4000 regionally adapted brinjal varieties in Southeast Asia, that Southeast Asia is the world center of brinjal origin and diversity, and that a corporate monoculture program like this threatens this agricultural biodiversity, as all GMOs do.
*Polish farmers are using tractors to block roads and picket government offices as they make four demands which they regard as critical to alleviate economic crises in Polish agriculture. The four demands are: Reject foreign land-grabbing of Polish farmland (slated to be legalized in 2016); decriminalize direct retail farm sales (this is one of the surest ways for farmers to get off the commodification treadmill and regain economic self-determination; Poland has draconian rules effectively outlawing it); allow inheritance of lease rights to farmland; ban GMOs.
*Farmers and companies have filed more than 360 lawsuits against Syngenta for marketing its Viptera maize before getting import approval from China. As a result, starting in November 2013 China began rejecting US maize shipments which tested positive for Viptera. This cost US growers and commodifiers lost $1-3 billion in revenue through the 2014 season. China rejected a total of over 131 million bushels. The suits have been filed in twenty states, and hundreds more may be coming. A federal judge is currently mulling whether to combine them into a class action. China finally approved Viptera in December.
*GMO labeling bills have been introduced in the legislatures of Indiana and Minnesota. The Indiana bill would also ban the use of the term “natural” on products containing GMOs.
*A federal judge granted the motion of the Center for Food Safety, Our Family Farms Coalition, and several local farmers to intervene as co-defendants in the industry lawsuit against Jackson County, Oregon. In May 2014 the county voted by a wide margin (66%) to ban GMO cultivation as an economic and contamination assault on the true farmers of the county. They’re now being sued by contract “farmers” who are really cartel proxies.
This spring Benton County will vote on a combined community rights, food sovereignty, GMO ban initiative.



  1. I’m glad you ended with the more positive reports 🙂 Wow, I didn’t realize the atmosphere in Poland was so repressive towards small farmers! That’s even worse than here.

    Comment by DualPersonality — February 13, 2015 @ 3:28 am

    • I like to put some of the good (or at least better) news at the end. It sounds worse in Poland in some ways. On the other hand in 2012 a coalition led by beekeepers forced the government to ban MON810 cultivation.


      Since MON810 is currently the only GMO approved for cultivation in the EU, that’s a de facto complete ban. But the recent “subsidiarity” deal will likely speed several more cultivation approvals, so this farmer movement is demanding that the government ban those as well as they come along. I don’t think it’s legally possible for an EU member to ban GMOs as a whole, but only on a product-by-product basis.

      Comment by Russ — February 13, 2015 @ 3:55 am

  2. OK, so the suit against Jackson County doesn’t appear to be good news, yet.

    Comment by DualPersonality — February 13, 2015 @ 3:38 am

    • It’s a positive step. Of course we don’t expect to win the war in court, though maybe we can win some battles there.

      Comment by Russ — February 13, 2015 @ 3:56 am

  3. You might want to add this to your next update. “Shock Doctrine” policies are still the MO of these corporate gangsters. All they need to do is put a call in to the white house and the corporate press and boom, you’ve got yourself another U.S. “humanitarian” exercise in somebody else’s back yard.

    “By encouraging reforms such as the deregulation of seed and fertiliser markets, the country’s agricultural sector is being forced open to foreign corporations such as Dupont and Monsanto.The Bank’s activities and its loan and reform programmes in Ukraine seem to be working toward the expansion of large industrial holdings in Ukrainian agriculture owned by foreign entities.”


    Comment by Pete — February 15, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

    • Thanks Pete, I hadn’t seen that piece. I did write a bit about the situation in a previous news summary.


      The Consortium News link is especially informative about why Monsanto and Cargill are bullish on Ukraine in spite of the chaos and war. It’s their element. Monsanto plans to build a poison seed factory. Ostensibly it (and a factory slated to be built in Russia) will process only non-GM seeds. But these will be coated in multiple neonic and other “seed treatments”. So it’s another Bhopal waiting to happen, in addition to the regular toxic plume which will drift from the site. The IMF loan will also require Ukraine to open up agricultural land ownership to foreign corporations and “investors”. Let the land grabbing begin.

      Comment by Russ — February 15, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

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