ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

26 March 2003


2.activists take Monsanto by storm - PRESS RELEASE
War foes urge boycott of US-Monsanto products



March 26, 2003
Agence France Presse English

BANGALORE, India - According to a witness cited in this story, Indian police arrested nine Greenpeace activists Wednesday during a protest against biotech company Monsanto to demand the withdrawal of its transgenic seeds from the Indian market.

As well, police removed two women who had chained themselves to the iron gates of the Monsanto Research Center building in this southern city after more than an hour of protest.

The women, holding a banner reading "Cotton Seeds of Suicide", continued their silent protest outside the building.

The story adds that two male activists, each with one leg each tied to a cloth banner reading, "Monsanto admit Bt cotton failure, compensate the farmers", chained themselves to windows on the first floor of the building for more than two hours.  Police removed the men and arrested them along with another seven activists assembled outside the building.

Greenpeace was cited as saying the protest coincided with the first anniversary of the government's approval for commercial production of Monsanto's genetically-engineered 'Bt cotton' seeds in India's six states.


Greenpeace activists take Monsanto by storm: demand admission of Bt Cotton failure, compensation for farmers

Dear Editors, Journalists and friends,

Here is the press release for today's action in Bangalore - it went off  extremely well, and our point was made quite strongly. Monsanto's only  reaction was to try and oust all media people from the complex, and prevent them from getting pictures!!

Namrata Chowdhary
Media Officer
Greenpeace India


Greenpeace activists take Monsanto by storm: demand admission of Bt Cotton failure, compensation for farmers.

26 March 2003, Bangalore: As reports of Bt Cotton failure continue to pour in from farmers around the country, Greenpeace activists today took a firm stand against further genetic experiments in Indian fields. The activists scaled the building housing the Monsanto office in Bangalore, and chained themselves to windows and a ladder, displaying banners demanding that Monsanto admits to the failure of Bt Cotton, and withdraws the seeds from the market - they also demanded compensation for farmers who have suffered losses due to investing in the 'Seeds of Suicide'. Four hours after the action had begun, all the Greenpeace activists were taken into police custody, to be released within two hours.

'Greenpeace has recently concluded a sample survey of Bt Cotton farmers in  three districts of Karnataka,' says Dr. Ashesh Tayal, GE Campaigner,  Greenpeace India. 'Just like in Andhra Pradesh, the farmers reported  disturbingly high incidence of pests - this, along with low, poor quality  yields, point to a total failure of the technology.'

G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Executive Director, Greenpeace India, adds 'We call upon the government to ban Bt Cotton as a failed product, and blacklist Monsanto - the only recourse to justice is for the government to hold Monsanto accountable for the farmers' losses and pay the damages. Otherwise, the liabilities will continue to mount for each year that Monsanto is allowed to propagate this destructive technology, and it will be marked as another example of corporate crime going unpunished, and unchecked.'   For the past few months, the GE campaign has been pressuring the Central  Government to acknowledge that the solution to the present imbroglio lies  neither in reducing the prices of Bt Cotton seeds, nor in opening the market for more companies investing in GM alternatives.

'Exactly one year ago, the GEAC gave approval for commercial release of Bt Cotton in six states of India.

'This year has proved that the technology has been a total failure in Indian conditions,' says Ananthapadmanabhan, 'Some ministries have taken a positive stand and highlighted the dangers posed by GMOs. We're demanding that all concerned government bodies take similar positions of precaution, and adhere to the fundamental Precautionary Principle in all decisions pertaining to GM technology.' Greenpeace is demanding:

1.That Monsanto should admit that Bt Cotton has been a failure and pro- actively withdraw Bt Cotton seeds from the market, to prevent further losses.
2.That the company should be made liable to pay compensation to all those farmers who have incurred losses due to the failure of the Bt Cotton crops.
3.That the government (State and Central) should accept that GM technology is unsafe, ineffective and inappropriate, and should consider non-GE, non-pesticidal management of crops.
For further information: G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Executive Director, Greenpeace India: +91 98 410 91424
Namrata Chowdhary, Media Officer, Greenpeace India: +91 98 108 50092
Dr. Ashesh Tayal, Scientific Advisor, Greenpeace India: +91 98 682 13558

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