Government of India,
Dear Narendra Modi ji,
SUB: Violation of India’s IPR laws and Competition Act by MNCs
India is laws are been systematically violated by Monsanto which illegally introduced the first GMO crop Bt Cotton in India. Monsanto is trying to subvert our Patent Law, our Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act, our Essential Commodities Act , our Anti Monopoly Act (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 does not have any regard for them.
Bt Cotton story in India is a story of illegality from the very beginning. Monsanto-Mahyco illegally imported Bt cotton in 1995 and illegally started open field trials in 1998.
The undersigned was compelled to file a writ in the Supreme Court against the illegal import and trials of Bt cotton without approval of the statutory body the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee(GEAC). Monsanto started to illegally collect royalties from our farmers and rapidly established a monopoly. Today 95 % cotton is Monsanto’s Bt cotton. The government has had to take action to regulate the illegal and unlawful activities of Monsanto in royalty collection.
In 2006 a case brought before the MRTPC by the Government of AP, in which the Research Foundation intervened, favoured the farmers and ordered a reduction in the seed price. The AP government also negotiated with the seed companies to set the prices of hybrid Bt cotton seed at $18/packet (of 450 grams) inclusive of technology fee which is much lower than the $29/packet that MMB had been selling it at. Soon other state governments adopted the same pricing policy.
In December 2015, the Seed Price Control Order was passed under the Essential Commodities Act, but instead of accepting the laws of the land, Monsanto tried to challenge the order in the Delhi and the Karnataka High Courts. In Delhi the case was dismissed and the undersigned impleaded in the Karnataka HC case. The case was also dismissed.
Because Monsanto had established a monopoly through absolutely unlawful means, the issue was taken to Competition Commission of India (CCI) by many parties including the Government of India. The CCI has the mandated duty and authority to regulate unfair business practises and abusive monopolies. Monsanto has not even appeared once before the CCI and is now dragging the CCI to court, even though an earlier attempt has been dismissed by the courts.
As the Prime minster of our country, we do hope you will defend the country’s laws and not allow underhand and illegal activities of Monsanto to threaten the sovereignty of the Indian constitution and undermine the regulatory framework that defends the rights of the Indian people.
Even while the Monsanto’s illegitimate claims to IPRs in the areas of seeds and plants is now out in the open, a new IPR scam in the making.
The chemical industry is getting ready to push the GM-Mustard (DMH-11). The GM 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 for commercial planting of GM Mustard based on the same system was rejected.
Although banned in India, Bayer finds ways to sell Glufosinate, to the tea gardens of Assam and the apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh, illegally. Sales agents show the Glufosinate sales under the ‘other’ 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 Genetics Systems, and entered into cooperation agreement with Evogene - which has patents on genome mapping. Bayer also has cross lincesing agreements with Monsanto.
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Monsanto and Bayer are now merging and will become a mega monopoly. While all the basic patents related to the barnase/barstar/bar gene system are controlled by Bayer. The GM mustard, is being made to appear as an “innovation” of Deepak Pental. Pental, a retired professor of the Delhi university, cannot possibly commercialise the GM seeds. The activity of seed production and seed breeding is undertaken by the Indian seed industry. As the GM Bt cotton experience has shown MNCs a holding patents on Gene technologies are trying to control our seed sector by destroying seed sovereignty through an illegal system of royalty collection and economic drain from the country.
Before any step is take on the commercialisation of GM mustard the following must be ensured to defend of India’s sovereignty, the rights of our farmers and rights of our citizens.
All agreements made by Pental with MNCs holding with patents on the barnase/barstar/bar gene system should be put in the public domain.
All agreements made by Pental with any commercial entities, or any companies for commercialisation of GM mustard, must be made known to the citizens of India.
A socio economic assessment must be done before the release of GM mustard.
Given our experience with GMO cotton, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is considering the option of putting in place guidelines for socio-economic assessment to judge proposed GM varieties on the basis of factors such as economy, health, environment, society and culture.
India is the land of Ayurveda, and reputed the world over for its traditional knowledge and science of life. We must have an independent Ayurvedic evaluation of GM mustard. Based on Ayurvedic principles and not molecular reductionism mustard is not only an oilseed but its leaves are an essential food and its seeds are an condiments. It also has important medicinal properties.
At the core of socio economic assessment is the issue of monopolies and cartels and impact on small farmers. Even though patents on seeds are not allowed, for more that one and a half decade Monsanto has extracted illegal royalties from Indian farmers, trapping them in debt, and triggering an epidemic of farmers’ suicides.
The systemic violation of Indian laws must be stopped immediately. We hope that as the Prime of India you will take strict and urgent action on what has become a national emergency and a serious crisis of governance in area of the seed, the first link in our food system.
We request you to please uphold the our Indian constitution and its laws and steer India away with this disaster through your good governance.
Dr Vandana Shiva
Director Research foundation for Science, Technology and Environment
Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture
Shri Anil Madhav Dave, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Shri JP Nadda, Minster for Health
Shri Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minster for Science and Technology
Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman, MoS Finance and Commerce
Shri Shripad Yesso Naik, MoS AYUSH