Apr 23, 2009

Monsanto eyes wheat and rice research in India

If you recall a few days back I had said (in one of my blogs) that you cannot aspire to become a director of an agricultural research institute or a vice-chancellor of a agricultural university in India unless you swear by genetic engineering. Well, we have a new director for the premier New Delhi-based Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI). Dr H S Gupta, was formerly the director of the ICAR research centre for the hills, Vivekanand Parvatiya Anusandhan Sansthan, in Almora.

On April 21, the IARI issued a circular for its staff. If you read the circular below, I don't think I need to say anything more.

Dated April 21, 2009
Indian Agricultural Research Institute
New Delhi
Circular

It is to bring to your notice that Monsanto has announced grant of $10 M(Rs. 50 Crore) to establish Monsanto's Beachell-Borlaug InternationalScholars Program, which will identify and support young scientits' Ph.D study in Rice and Wheat Breeding, two of the world's most staple crops. Dr.Ed Runge, Professor and Billie B. Turner Chair in Production Agronomy(Emeritus) within Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Texas A&M University at College Station, Chair of the Independent Panel of Judges will address the scholars/scientists and deliver the key note address and explain the program and to encourage Ph.D. students in Rice Wheat Breeding to apply. To drive *(derive) *the benefit of his presence, I request that all scientific,technical staff and students to participate in large number. The lecture is schedules for *Saturday, 25th April, 2009 at 3.30 PM Sharp *in Dr. B. P. Pal Auditorium followed by high tea.

I request that everybody should take advantage of this opportunity and make this event a grant *(grand)* success.

HS Gupta
Director
IARI

Well, this is not only happening at IARI. Most of the Agriculture Universities in India are now becoming GM research hubs for the private biotech companies. In the days to come you will also see Winrock International relaunching its fellowship programme, and of course this time it will be on GM research and corporate agriculture.

Meanwhile, let me take you back to the Vivekanand Parvatiya Anusandhan Sansthan, in Almora. Only a few days before he joined IARI, Dr H S Gupta, who was then heading the Almora research centre, had written a response to Jharkhand Forum list. He was replying to a letter by some Mr Padhi, and published on the email listserver. Dr Gupta's reply (dated March 23, 2009) only goes to establish what I said at the beginning of this blog.

Dear Mr. Padhi,

I agree with Abhishek's view. We must protest the unmindful opposition of GM crops, which were grown in more than 114 million ha area (in 2007) worldwide in the developed as well as developing countries. Some of the NGOs are opposing GM crops by taking advantage of ignorance of general public and they are creating 'SPECULATIVE FEAR'. Over the last five years, India's cotton productivity has increased 2.5 times (191 kg/ha in 2002-03 to 523 kg/ha in 2007-08) which is testimony of the advantage of adoption of GM crops. Of course, we should pay adequate attention to the bioafetys norms set by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India. Let the farmers make an informed choice. We should tell them the advantages as well as disadvantages both.

HS Gupta
Director
Vivekananda Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan (VPKAS) ICAR Almora - 263 601 India Ph: 05962 - 230208(o) 05962 - 230130(r)

I wonder how can farmers be expected to make informed choice when the institute is more than keen to promote GM crops research. With agricultural scientists abdicating their responsibility to work for small farmers (in favour of corporate interests), God alone can save Indian farmers.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

dear devinder
if the claims of dr. hs. gupta and others in ICAR that the yields of cotton have gone up from 191kg/ha in 2002-03 to 523 kg/ha in 2007-08
have to be taken seriously, we need to do few things.

1. ask the ICAR (and its employees) to pay back all the investments made on cotton research through cotton program in india for all these
years as they could only improve cotton yields upto 191 kg/ha. the data on CICR shows that the productivity between 1988 to 1999-00 is
around 200 to 250 kg/ha then why only 191kg of 2002-03 is talked about? lets take the cse of 2006-07. the average yields in 2006-07
was only 392 kg/ha (that only 1.5 q/acre). cost of cultivation per acre was 6800 (min possible) and the price farmer got per q was 1600
for hybrid cottons. which means most of the farmers have ended up in loss of rs. 4400/acre (11000/ha). where is cotton farmers getting
benifit from? during the same year 16 lakh bt cotton packets are sold in the country. calculating @ Rs. 750 per packets bt cotton seed
industry made business of Rs. 120 crore. the royalty mahyco monsanto got was Rs. 24 crore (considering Rs. 150/packet as royalty).

2. ICAR should apolizise the nation that they mislead the nation saying yields in cotton have improved with hybrids, chemical fetilisers and pesticides will increase yields. look at the
investments made in cotton research under technology mission and claims made by the ICAR. now it proves that all these claims are
wrong.

ramoo/csa

Anonymous said...

If the scientists are really concerned about food security , let them first protect( and protest) the land which is being taken away from farmers forcefully. Seed is not the ultimate in food production, but land and water and farmers. What are they going to do about it. If the land and water is gone what use their seeds have ? Somebody told me that now the scientists have become part of land mafia in many places.

regards
Usha

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir Ii read your article . This is clear that Agriculture MNC's are traping agriculture. I asked Agriculture MNC's why they give emphasis on cash crop like cotton, wheat,rice etc? Why they forget ragi, bajra, kodo, jwar and many other coarse grain, whos grown without water & fertiliser? It is clear that Agriculture MNC's are spreading monoculture so their market flowrish.

Anonymous said...

Do not be biased against GM crops. Most of the medicines we take on daily basis are the product of GM's. Why some people do not want to take advantages of GM crops by the poor farmers. Why they are allowing rich medicines compinies to go ahead.