- We will soon be eating genetically modified rice invented
by seeds multinational corporations
- Someone said, "Monsanto invented the pig.' Very
soon we will learn, right here in India and Asia, that US and European
seeds multinational corporations "invented" rice. And soon we
shall be paying up front royalty to these companies for eating rice. Hold
your breath; that situation is upon us.
- I pose this question to you before you read further:
What would you do to a company that claims it "invented rice"
and wants its pound of flesh because you, Sirs and Madams, eat rice?
- India is a rice country. Rice has been our staple for
thousands of years. A French scientist had once said India has 200,000
varieties of rice. Other environmentalists say 100,000. Does it matter?
In the traditional rice producing regions I found that the taste and shape
of rice often differed from village to village. Not any more. Post green
revolution, the varieties available in the market for commercial sowing
has dropped to about fifty what must surely be called the greatest destruction
of genetic diversity in any food crop anywhere in the world.
- Forty years ago when my mother cooked basmati rice, a
gentle aroma would pervade the entire home. Not any more. Under Green revolution
rice slowly hybridized into a commodity and now produced in large mechanized
farms with heavy doses of fertilizers and pesticides. Bayer CropScience,
a German company, genetically modified rice seeds. This gene revolution
genie is now out of the bottle and no one knows how many rice varieties
are contaminated. No one really knows how much of this engineered poison
has already entered our food chain. And that has happened without proper
- Rice belongs to the Oryza specie. Lay persons like me
were told that rice is self pollinating with little or no chance of pollen
drift and contamination of neighbour's rice field. However, RiceTech, a
US-based hybrid seeds company, has documented that "wind assisted
rice pollens can move over 600 feet." [APHIS Workshop, September 13-15,
2004; Abstract] If genetically engineered rice is planted amidst non-genetically
modified rice, there is every chance that non-genetically modified rice
will be contaminated and this is what happened in the United States of
- US Rice Gets Contaminated
- Bayer CropScience (the German multinational seeds company)
conducted field trials of LL601 (better known as Liberty Link 601) from
1999 to 2001 in Louisiana. It then dropped the project and did not seek
US Government permission to market it. In 2006, widespread contamination
of US long-grain rice with LL601 trait was reported.
- Covering the event, Rick Weiss, the Washington Post staff
writer, reported, "The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating
how the variety escaped from test plots into farmers' fields, where it
was quietly amplified for years until its discovery. The seeds and plants
of LL601 look virtually identical to those of the popular conventional
variety with which they had become mixed, said Steve Linscombe, director
of Louisiana State University's rice research station in Crowley.. The
day the contamination was announced in August, Bayer asked the government
to approve the variety."
- On 5th October 2007, the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) concluded its genetically engineered rice investigation.
Investigators had hoped to identify how each GE rice line entered the commercial
rice supply, but the exact mechanism for introduction could not be determined
in either instance. (Source: USDA, Press Release, www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome?contentidonly=trueandcontentid/2007/10/0284/xml)
- However, it could not pinpoint how engineered rice seeds
could contaminate over such a large area. Speculation was rife: some said
mislabeling, others said human error, yet others said containers got mixed
- Approval By Contamination
- On 24th November, 2006 the USDA granted marketing approval
of genetically-engineered Liberty Link 601 of Bayer CropScience. (GE) rice
variety following its illegal contamination of the food supply and rice
exports, first announced three months ago. The controversial decision
was taken despite the insistence of Bayer CropScience that it had dropped
plans to commercialize the variety five years ago.
- "With this decision, USDA is telling agricultural
biotechnology companies that it doesn't matter if you're negligent, if
you break the rules, if you contaminate the food supply with untested genetically
engineered crops, we'll bail you out," said Joseph Mendelson, Legal
Director of the Center for Food Safety. "In effect, USDA is sanctioning
an 'approval-by-contamination' policy that can only increase the likelihood
of untested genetically engineered crops entering the food supply in the
future, and further erode trust in the wholesomeness of U.S. food overseas,"
- Naturally, Bayer CropScience welcomed the decision of
USDA. "The deregulation confirms the preliminary decision of USDA,
published on September 8, 2006, that LLRICE601 does not pose any environmental
concerns and should no longer be regulated."
- Oh yes, it does, Mr. Bayer. That is why US rice consignments
were returned or destroyed at Rotterdam port.and another, and another.and
- Is India Vulnerable?
- You bet it is. In January I received a set of documents
from an Agriculture University in West Bengal that illegal genetically
modified Bhindi (Okra) has been planted. In March I was told in Jhansi
that poor farmers were offered lucrative deals to plant "special seed"
of all sorts of vegetables including green chilly.
- Who knows at how many places illegal genetically engineered
rice have been planted?
- Only when contamination will be discovered at the port
of landing of Indian rice exporters that India will wake up to the destruction
of its 10,000 years of heritageTHE RICE.
- Following on from the US example, it is not too far fetched
to say that our favourite staple rice will be owned by one of the five
or six seeds multinationals.because they "invented" it! Who will
be the first to contaminate our rice is at best a guess.
- But IT WILL BE CONTAMINATED. THEY ARE TOO DETERMINED
TO OWN OUR FOOD.
- Any questions?
- Neither the Congress Party, nor BJP, nor CPM nor CPI,
nor RSP, nor SP, nor Shiv Senanone has the guts or the political will to
oppose the fraud of these multinational corporations. They have all been
- "Who cares if GMO seeds don't provide any of the
benefits that were promised? Certainly not the seed companies. Perhaps
benefits to the people of the world were never the point. Perhaps the point
was to get those first GMO crops in the ground -- promise them the moon!
-- and then allow nature to take its course and contaminate the rest of
the planet with patented pollen. The intellectual property lawsuits will
come along in good time." (Source: <http://www.grain.org/research/?id=354>2005
was a very good year for the biotech food industry; Peter Montague; Rachel's
Democracy & Health News #837, Jan-2006)