Traditional farming methods in India are safer from the biotech threat now that Bayer has terminated its GE projects.
Bayer conceded to Greenpeace India that ALL its projects
on genetically engineered (GE) crops have been "discontinued" in a
letter sent by Aloke V. Pradhan, head of Bayer's Corporate
Communications in India.
"We don't need genetically engineered crops to feed India," said
Divya Raghunandan, GE campaigner for Greenpeace India. "In fact
globally, the promises made by the genetic engineering industry
have been unfulfilled, whether increasing crop yields or reducing
She continued: "It doesn't surprise us that Bayer is giving up
in India as they saw the writing on the wall - the Indian public
was not going to accept their manipulated cabbages and cauliflowers
and they cut their losses. It's time for the rest of the industry
to give up on this misguided and inappropriate technology."
The letter outlining Bayer's retreat was sent following a
protest which saw six activists chain themselves to the Bayer
headquarters in Mumbai at the beginning of October. During their
protest they demanded to know exactly what the biotech giant was
doing in India.
They also presented documentary evidence obtained from the
Department of Biotechnology (DBT) proving that ProAgro, a Bayer
subsidiary, was using the highly controversial Cry9C gene in Indian
cabbage and cauliflower.
only response was to issue a statement denying it had any
involvement with the Cry9C gene. But it then contradicted itself by
stating that "the (Cry9C gene) trials were conducted in a contained
environment and were harvested well before flowering. Since these
research trials never went to the phase of development or
commercial production the question of biosafety assessment does not
"The apathy and indifference of this company is unbelievable!"
said Divya Raghunandan. "They took 11 hours to eventually respond
with half-truths and an inconsistent statement. This statement only
vindicates our stand that we are dealing with an irresponsible
corporation with many skeletons to hide."
The use of this gene also proves the double standards
systematically used by biotech companies. In the US Cry9C was only
approved for animal feed and industrial purposes as there were
concerns that it could cause allergies due to shared
characteristics of other allergens. In 2000 a scandal involving the
gene, which was used to create StarLink GE corn, cost the US
agro-biotech industry US $1 billion when traces were found in Taco
This retreat follows other decisions by Bayer earlier this year.
In March of 2004, the company announced it would be pulling out of
GE crop research in the UK. A few months later, in June, it
announced it would not pursue commercialisation of GE canola in
"It is clear that popular resistance to genetic engineering is
not diminishing as hoped for by the industry," said Doreen
Stabinsky, GE campaigner for Greenpeace International. "No matter
what country we're talking about, consumers are on the same page.
They don't want to eat genetically engineered food. That's good
news for farmers and good news for the environment."
Find out more:
- Read the
letters exchanged between Greenpeace India and Bayer.
- Find out the
history of Bayer in India.
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