Monsanto's Roundup, a masqueraded monster

Monsantos Roundup, a masqueraded monster

On July 26, a panel discussion was organised by Swadeshi Jagran Manch and on the impact of glyphosate (whose trade name is Monsanto’s Roundup). There was unanimity that there should be a ban on Glyphosate in India.

On July 26, a panel discussion was organised by Swadeshi Jagran Manch and on the impact of glyphosate (whose trade name is Monsanto's Roundup). There was unanimity that there should be a ban on Glyphosate in India.

Around 1,12,000 people have already signed the petition calling for a ban. On August 9, the day we told the British to 'Quit India', farmers across the country will tell Monsanto to Quit India, with its Bt Cotton, its Ht Bt Cotton that is resistant to Roundup, and its Roundup.

We started Monsanto Quit India movement in 1998 when Monsanto introduced Bt cotton illegally in India, without approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee which is the only body that can approve imports, exports, open field trials, and commercial releases.

Just as Monsanto introduced Bt cotton illegally in 1998 through large scale open field trials in 22 locations, Monsanto's Roundup Ready Bt Cotton has been spread illegally. Roundup itself is illegal on India's farms. Its use is only been approved in tea gardens and non crop land.

Preventing illegal activities is the duty of government. The government must immediately round up Roundup because of its illegality.

There are many reasons why it should not be approved.

Firstly, it is an assault on the foundations of India's ecological civilisation based on diversity. We work in harmony with biodiversity, and through biodiversity we produce more nutrition. As Navdanya's report "Health Per Acre" has shown, by conserving biodiversity we can feed two times India's population.

We pray "Sarve Bhavatu Sukhina" (May all beings be happy). This includes the biodiversity that thrives in our fields, the nutritious uncultivated edibles like Bathua (Chenopodium album) and Chaulai (Amaranth), medicinal plants like Bhuiamla (Phyllanthus Niruri) which heals the liver and is a cure for jaundice and hepatitis, and grass for our animals.

It also includes the biodiversity of mixed cropping - of mustard with chana or wheat, of cotton with jowar and tur. All scientific literature shows that biodiversity and mixed cropping have a higher 'land equivalence ratio.'

That is we get more output of produce per acre when we mix crops than when we grow monocultures. Navdanya's metric of nutrition per acre measures Biodiversity Based Productivity, instead of the reductionist "yield" of one commodity from a chemical monoculture.

This is the principle Sir Albert Howard learnt from Indian farming and spread across the world as organic farming.

As he writes in the Agricultural Testament, "Mixed crops are the rule. In this respect the cultivators of the Orient have followed nature's method as seen in the primeval forest. Mixed cropping is perhaps most universal when the cereal crop is the main constituent.

Crops like millets, wheat, barley, and maize are mixed with an appropriate subsidiary pulse, sometimes a species that ripens much later than the cereal.

The pigeon pea (Cajanus indicus Spreng.), perhaps the most important leguminous crop of the Gangetic alluvium, is grown either with millets or with maize. The mixing of cereals and pulses appears to help both crops."

In Monsanto's militaristic, anti nature mind, this biodiversity is a problem, and must be exterminated with glyphosate. Crops must be genetically engineered to resist glyphosate so that the GMO survives and everything else dies.

In the early 1990's during the negotiations of the United Nations Biodiversity Convention, a Monsanto representative described Roundup Ready GMO crops as a 'technology' that 'prevents the weeds from stealing the sunshine'. This is a mentality of war and violence, of greed and scarcity.

And it creates scarcity. By destroying sources of food and fodder, medicine and organic manure, and livelihoods especially of women, if HT mustard is introduced 4.25 crore employment days for women would disappear. Between 2011-12 and 2017-2018, 29 million women's livelihoods vanished. Monsanto steals women's livelihoods by spreading Roundup.

Through Roundup, Monsanto is also stealing our health and our future.

In 1985, EPA had classified glyphosate to be a class C Carcinogen. In spite of knowing they were selling a carcinogen, Monsanto denied it.

Worse, it attacked the WHO's International Agency for Reach on Cancer when their research showed that glyphosate causes cancer.

The WHO study led to spate of cases in the US by people who had used Roundup and got cancer. Courts have ruled in the cases of Johnson, Hardeman and the Pilliods.

As Judge Winifred Smith said on #Monsanto#Roundup#cancer case: "In this case there was clear and convincing evidence that #Monsanto made efforts to impede, discourage, or distort scientific inquiry and the resulting science."

There are 18,400 pending cases relating to glyphosate, the main ingredient in the Roundup sold by Monsanto since the 1970s. Monsanto was acquired Bayer AG the German company in 2018.

Monsanto did not merely lie in the context of cancer. It also falsely claimed that Roundup does not affect humans because humans do not have the shikimate pathway which is in plants and which is ruptured with the application of Roundup.

What they hid from citizens is the scientific fact that our gut microbes have the shikimate pathway. When we consume Roundup residues in food, our gut micro biome is affected.

As Stephanie Seneff, a scientist at MIT points out: Monsanto, glyphosate's inventor, claims that glyphosate is harmless to human cells because our cells don't possess the biological pathway that glyphosate disrupts in plants, namely, the shikimate pathway…

A huge flaw in Monsanto's argument is that our gut bacteria do possess the shikimate pathway, and they depend upon it to produce a set of three aromatic amino acids, tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine.

Since our cells don't have this pathway, they themselves are unable to make these very important nutrients, so we depend upon our gut bacteria to supply these nutrients for us, if they are deficient in our food.

These essential amino acids are precursors to the neurotransmitter dopamine, serotonin, melatonin, and adrenalin, as well as thyroid hormone, folate, and vitamin E. Many of these important biological molecules have been shown to be deficient in association with autism.

Roundup is not just a broad-spectrum weedicide. It is a broad-spectrum biocide that kills beneficial insects like pollinators, and soil organisms. Nitrogen fixing bacteria and mychorizal fungi have been reduced and pathogenic fusarium fungi has increased.

The Roundup ready crops which have led to an increase of 1,500 percent in Roundup spraying in the USA have failed in their primary objective of weed control. They have instead turned beneficial plants like amaranth into superweeds.

The militarised mind is now preparing for the next war against biodiversity. Exterminating the amaranth species through "gene drives".

We need to make peace with biodiversity, for ecological security, food security and livelihood security. We must round up Roundup.

(The author is the Executive Director, Navdanya)

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