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India is steeped in a synthesized controversy created by Monsanto on the first GMO crop supposedly approved for commercialization. Engaged in litigation on many fronts, Monsanto is trying to subvert India's patent laws: Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Right Act, Essential Commodities Act and Competition Act. It is behaving as if there is no Parliament, no democracy, no sovereign laws in India to which it is subject. Or it simply doesn't have any regard for them.

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In another theatre, Monsanto and Bayer are merging. They were one as MoBay (MonsantoBayer), part of the poison cartel of I.G. Farben. The controlling stakes of both corporations lie with the same private equity firms. The expertise of these firms is in war. I.G. Farben, Adolf Hitler's economic powerhouse and pre-war Germany's highest foreign exchange earner, was also a foreign intelligence operation. Hermann Schmitz was president of I.G. Farben, Schmitz's nephew Max Ilgner was a director of I.G. Farben, while Max's brother Rudolph Ilgner ran the New York arm as vice-president of Chemnyco.

Paul Warburg, brother of Max Warburg (board of directors, Farben Aufsichtsrat), founded the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Max Warburg and Hermann Schmitz played a central role in the Farben empire. Other "guiding hands" of Farben Vorstand included Carl Bosch, Fritz ter Meer, Kurt Oppenheim and George von Schnitzler. Each of them was adjudged a "war criminal" after World War II, except Paul Warburg.

Monsanto and Bayer have a long history. They made explosives and lethally poisonous gases using shared technologies and sold them to both sides in the two world wars. The same war chemicals were bought by the Allied and Axis powers, from the same manufacturers, with money borrowed from the same bank.

MoBay supplied ingredients for Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Around 20 million gallons of MoBay defoliants and herbicides were sprayed over South Vietnam. Children are still being born with birth defects, adults have chronic illnesses and cancers, due to their exposure to MoBay's chemicals. Monsanto and Bayer's cross-licensed Agent Orange resistance has also been cross-developed for decades. Wars were fought, lives lost, nations carved into holy lands — with artificial boundaries that suit colonization and resource grab — while Bayer and Monsanto sold chemicals as bombs and poisons and their brothers provided the loans to buy those bombs.

More recently, Bayer CropScience AG and Monsanto are believed to have entered into a long-term business relationship. This gives Monsanto and Bayer free access to each other's herbicide and paired herbicide resistance technology. Through cross-licensing agreements, mergers and acquisitions, the biotech industry has become the I.G. Farben of today, with Monsanto in the cockpit.

The global chemical and GMO industry—Bayer, Dow Agro, DuPont Pioneer, Mahyco, Monsanto and Syngenta—have come together to form the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) to try and become bigger bullies in this assault on India's farmers, environment and democratically-framed laws that protect the public and the national interest. This is in addition to Association of Biotechnology-Led Enterprises (ABLE), which tried to challenge India's seed price control order issued under the Essential Commodities Act in the Karnataka high court. The case was dismissed.

The new group is not "seed industry;" they produce no seeds. They try to stretch patents on chemicals to claim ownership on seeds, even in countries where patents on seeds and plants are not allowed. This is the case in India, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and many other countries.

All Monsanto cases in India are related to Monsanto un-scientifically, illegally and illegitimately claiming patents on seed, in contempt of India's laws, and trying to collect royalties from the Indian seed industry and farmers. The FSII is an "I.G. Farben 100-Year Family Reunion," a coming together of independent and autonomous entities.

The Farben family chemical cartel was responsible for exterminating people in concentration camps. It embodies a century of ecocide and genocide, carried out in the name of scientific experimentation and innovation. Today, the poison cartel is wearing G-Engineering clothes and citing the mantra of "innovation" ad nauseam. Hitler's concentration camps were an "innovation" in killing; and almost a century later, the Farben family is carrying out the same extermination—silently, globally and efficiently.

Monsanto's "innovation" of collecting illegal royalties and pushing Indian farmers to suicide is also an innovation in killing without liability, indirectly. Just because there is a new way to kill doesn't make killing right. "Innovation," like every human activity, has limits—set by ethics, justice, democracy, the rights of people and of nature.

I.G. Farben was tried in Nuremberg. We have national laws to protect people, their right to life and public health, and the environment. India's biosafety and patent laws and the Plant Variety Act are designed to regulate greedy owners of corporations with a history of crimes against nature and humanity.

Industry is getting ready to push its next "gene," the GMO mustard (DMH-11). The GMO mustard, being promoted as a public sector "innovation," is based on barnase/barstar/gene system to create male-sterile plants and a bar gene for glufosinate resistance. In 2002, Pro-Agro's (Bayer) application for approval of commercial planting of GM mustard based on the same system was turned down.

Although banned in India, Bayer finds ways to sell glufosinate illegally to Assam's tea gardens and the apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh. Sales agents show the sale of glufosinate under the "others" category to avoid regulation. These chemicals are finding their way into the bodies of our children without government approval. Essentially, all key patents related to the bar gene are held by Bayer Crop Science, which acquired Aventis Cropscience, which itself was created out of the genetic engineering divisions of Schering, Rhone Poulenc and Hoechst. Then Bayer acquired Plant Genetic Systems and entered into cooperation agreement with Evogene, which has patents on genome mapping.

Before any approval is granted to genetically-engineered mustard, the issue of limits to patentability needs to be resolved on the basis of Indian laws and patents on plants and seeds and methods of agriculture must not be allowed. Deepak Pental, a retired professor and GMO-Operative, will not commercialize GMO mustard seed. His officers at Bayer/Monsanto/MoBay will.

Given our experience with GMO cotton, The Ministry of Environment & Forests is considering the option of putting in place guidelines for socio-economic assessment to judge proposed GMO varieties on the basis of factors such as the economy, health, environment, society and culture.

At the core of socio-economic assessment is the issue of monopolies and cartels, and their impact on small farmers. Even though patents on seeds are not allowed, for more than a decade and a half, Monsanto has extracted illegal royalties from Indian farmers, trapping them in debt and triggering an epidemic of farmers' suicides. Monsanto's war on India's foot soldiers—farmers—is a war being waged by the Farben family, on our Earth family.

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Vandana Shiva

Insights Writers

Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.

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Dr. Vandana Shiva

What happens to the seed affects the web of life. When seed is living, regenerative and diverse, it feeds pollinators, soil organisms and animals—including humans. When seed is non-renewable, bred for chemicals, or genetically engineered with toxic Bt or Roundup Ready genes, diversity disappears.

In recent years, beekeepers have been losing 25 percent of their hives each winter. According to a scientific study in 2008, bees and pollinators contribute more than €153 billion annually to agriculture. Chemically-farmed soils, sprayed with herbicides and pesticides kill the beneficial organisms that create soil fertility and protect plants.

Organic seeds and organic farming do not just protect human health; they protect the health and wellbeing of all.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The Rise of Monocultures

With industrial seeds and industrial agriculture, the diversity of plants and crops disappears. India had 200,000 rice varieties before the "green revolution" in the 1970s, which relied on pesticides and fertilizers to avert famine in India. This diversity was replaced by monocultures.

Today the fastest expanse in acreage is of genetically engineered corn and soya, because they are patented and corporations can collect royalties from farmers. When seed freedom disappears and farmers become dependent on genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds, they in effect become seed slaves.

According to the National Bureau of Crime Records, more than 284,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide since seed monopolies were established in India. Gandhi spun cotton for our freedom. Today GMO Bt cotton has enslaved our farmers in debt, and pushed them to suicide. And 95 percent cotton seed is controlled by one company: Monsanto.

When culture is eroded, biodiversity is eroded. And when control over seeds becomes big business, diversity disappears faster. Diversity is a product of care, connection and cultural pride.

Greed Versus Care

The tribals and peasants who gave us rice diversity wanted to evolve a rice for lactating mothers, a rice for babies, a rice for old people. They wanted to have rices that would survive droughts and floods and cyclones, so they evolved climate-resilient rices. In the Himalaya, different rices are needed for different altitudes and different slopes. The intimacy and care that go with belonging to a place and a community allows diversity to flourish.

Greed promotes carelessness and drives control, and control is facilitated by uniformity and monocultures. You cannot control diversity, you can only co-evolve and co-create with it.

A will to control becomes a will to destroy diversity, through what I have called the monoculture of the mind. And the expansion of corporate control over seed and plants is the main reason for the disappearance of diversity in our fields and in our food.

Undermining Health and Nutrition

Corporations first controlled agriculture through the chemical inputs for the green revolution. External chemical inputs demand uniformity and monocultures. In an ecological system, wheat and mustard and chana grow in a mixture, as an internal input self-organizing system is based on diversity and co-operation. When ecological inputs are replaced with external inputs, diversity becomes a problem, and monocultures become an imperative. Chemically-fertilized crops start competing with one another and different external inputs have to be applied to different crops.

This is how the green revolution destroyed our rich diversity of rice and wheat. Millets, which we at Navdanya call forgotten foods, were driven out of our farms and from our plates on totally unscientific criteria of being called inferior grains, even though in health and nutrition terms they are superior to green revolution and hybrid rice and wheat.

Indigenous rice and wheat varieties are superior in nutrition to the new varieties. Native rices have a low glycaemic index, while industrial rice has a high glycaemic index. When all that the poor get is industrial rice, they also get diabetes. India is now the capital of diabetes, which is intimately linked to the disappearance of diversity.

Not only does living, organic seed have more quality, nutrition and taste; farming systems that are based on biodiversity produce more nutrition and "health per acre", as the Navdanya study has shown. Seed freedom is the answer to hunger and malnutrition. One billion people today are hungry and two billion are obese because agriculture is out of balance with nature. Half of humanity is denied wellbeing through food.

Globalization and the Disappearance of Diversity

Globalization means an expanded and aggressive assault on the diversity of our crops and foods is taking place. There are three forces driving the disappearance of diversity, and all are connected to corporate control over seed and food.

The first is the entry of big business in the seed market, with uniform commercial, industrial hybrids and GMOs, and the consequent displacement of local diverse varieties evolved by farmers. Local farmers grew different water melon varieties, and water melons were seasonal fruits. Today you get only one oblong variety everywhere, all year round, because watermelon seeds are now commercial hybrids sold by corporations, which can only breed and sell uniformity.

The second factor in the disappearance of diversity is long-distance trade. Diversity goes hand in hand with local, decentralised food systems. Long-distance trade replaces freshness and softness with hardness, so fruits can travel. You may have noticed how soft jacket oranges have disappeared and been replaced with varieties that cannot be peeled. Corporations are advising the Indian government that bananas and mangoes need a makeover to travel longer, and stay longer on shelves.

The third factor is industrial processing. When McDonald's wants potatoes for French fries, only Russell Burbank will grow. Pepsi's Lay's chips cannot use indigenous potato diversity—such as the tomri that we grow in the mountains. Ketchup requires tomatoes with pulp, not juice. So the juicy, tasty tomatoes disappear, and hard and tasteless tomatoes replace them.

The Italians have continued to grow good, diverse tomatoes since and have managed to get the Mediterranean diet on the Unesco heritage list. Every cuisine in every part of India deserves to be recognized as a cultural heritage.

Navdanya has been making its contributions to protecting biodiversity and food heritage. But the issue is too important not to be taken up by every citizen in their daily lives. We are what we eat. When we are careless with food we are careless with ourselves. Will we only wake up when the last peasant and the last seed disappears?

Originally posted in The Guardian.

Visit EcoWatch’s GE FOODS page for more related news on this topic.

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