August 22, 2011
Monsanto's Project Sunshine aims at corn development
Monsanto's hybrid corn expansion programme, Project Sunshine, is seeking to bring about a Yellow Revolution in tribal areas of India.
It is being implemented under various names in Gujarat, Odisha and Rajasthan and even in Madhya Pradesh as well.
In Madhya Pradesh, the project provides subsidy for Monsanto's Dekalb hybrid corn seeds, which will lead to the death of the traditional non-hybrid white corn, also known as the Open Pollinated Variety (OPV) seeds currently in use reducing farmers' control over their seeds.
Sources from the Agricultural Department said that it is a pilot project covering the major tribal districts and it seeks to address the food security problem in these areas.
Monsanto's Dekalb hybrid corn seeds are being distributed in the State with 50% subsidy from the Rashtiya Krishi Vikas Yojana fund, while the Tribal Welfare Department is subsidising another 40%.
On the other hand, the pro-organic agriculture activists had written to the Chief Minister, in June 2011, asking him to scrap the project, being implemented in Jhabua, Dhar, Seoni, Chhindwara, Ratlam, Khargone, and Alirajpur districts.
On August 9, they organised a demonstration against Project Sunshine and Monsanto in the State capital. There have been consistent protests against similar projects in Odisha (Project Golden Days), Gujarat (Project Sunshine), and Rajasthan (Project Golden Rays).
"It is a very controversial stand of the State Government as on one hand, it is supporting organic farming and on the other hand it is providing subsidy to Monsanto. All the pro-organic framing States are against these seeds and Madhya Pradesh Government should also come forward," says Nilesh Desai of the Madhya Pradesh Beej Swaraj Abhiyan (Seed Sovereignty Campaign).
"No food shall be grown, that we do not own"- that is the reported objective of Monsanto, - the multinational seed and agro-chemical company notorious for suing and jailing farmers for the 'crime' of reusing seeds they purchased from the company.
Interestingly, the BJP had in its manifesto clearly laid down the potential of Indian traditional farming and had taken an express stand against approval of GM crops in the country without full scientific data on long-term effects and this precisely is what is missing right now in India even as field trials are being allowed which pose a distinct threat of contamination and irreversible leakage of seeds as has been seen in the case of Bt Cotton.
It also recalled that the BJP in its manifesto had promised to promote nature-friendly cultivation.
A couple of months earlier for GM Free Madhya Pradesh in an open letter to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh had urged to concede to the demand of farmers' organisations, people's movements, consumers and other civil society organisations to immediately intervene with regard to the GM Corn trial of Monsanto being conducted in open air conditions in Jabalpur and stop it. Further, it requested him to announce a policy of making Madhya Pradesh free of GM crops/foods in keeping with your overall agricultural policy.