Monsanto Is Not Gandhi: Crimes against Nature and Society Are Not “Satyagraha”


Prof. Vandana Shiva | Navdanya International – TRANSCEND Media Service

After a series of 7 public hearings on Bt Brinjal, on February 9 2010, the then minister of state for Environment of the Govt of India announced an indefinite moratorium on introducing Bt brinjal—the first genetically modified food crop that would have been introduced for mass production in India.

In June 2019, Monsanto lobbyists announced that farmers will illegally plant Bt Brinjal as a “Satyagraha”.

This is outright criminal action. As Kishore Tiwari, Chair of the Maharashtra Govt commission on agrarian distress has clearly stated, farmers acting on behest of Monsanto are criminals and will be treated as such.

Art 15 of the Biosafety laws requires govt to act when the rules are violated.

Further, the Environment Protection Act 1986 requires that anyone violating the law face an imprisonment of 5 years.

The reason we have national and international Biosafety laws is because GMOs cause harm to Biodiversity.

Bt crops like Bt Cotton and Bt Brinjal have a gene for producing a toxin inserted in the genome of the plant, thus producing the toxin in every cell all the time.

It was known in the 1990’s and has been scientifically confirmed now that Bt in plants is different from the naturally occurring Bt in the soil.

New studies are showing that Monsanto took a safe natural pest control agent, Bt, and made it a “Supertoxin” by genetically engineering it into plants.

The scientific fraud begins with the claim that Bt toxin in crops affects only the bollworm species and controls it.

This is doubly false. While natural Bt affects only the caterpillar family, the “high dose toxin” or “super toxin” in GMO Bt crops affects a wide range of species. Other species are also affected. Further, the bollworm has evolved resistance to Bt as the Indian experience with Bt shows.

As Jonathan R. Latham, Madeleine Love & Angelika Hilbeck (2017), in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, 33:1, 62-96, DOI: 10.1080/02648725.2017.1357295. Have stipulated:

“Bt toxins are a diverse family of protein toxins produced in nature by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a gut pathogen of many species. Naturally occurring toxins (also known as Cry toxins) of B. thuringiensis are believed to all have very limited toxicity ranges. These toxins exist in nature as crystals packaged around DNA. Through a complex sequence of unpacking and protein processing steps these molecules are converted to active toxins and kill their targets by creating holes in the membranes of the gut lining of their victims. …… The biotech industry claims that its Bt toxins are natural and as safe as those used by organic farmers. GMO regulators around the world share this view. Indeed, they make it the baseline assumption of their risk assessments for food safety and environmental toxicology. As we show in a new peer reviewed publication, however, assumptions of similarity of any GMO Bt with its natural ancestor are very wide off the mark. More than that, we show that the differences between natural and GMO Bt toxins are such as to make the latter much more toxic.”

Source: Have Monsanto and the biotech industry turned natural Bt pesticides into GMO “Super toxins”? Jonathan Latham, PhD

Our research has shown that Bt Cotton is affecting soil organisms and destroying the soil food web.

Since Bt is a toxin which the plant produces in every cell it is affecting biodiversity, soil health and pollinators.

A study published in a peer reviewed journal shows that in the Bt Cotton growing areas of Vidarbha, beneficial soil organisms have declined, undermining soil health and soil fertility. The result revealed a significant decline in actinobacteria (17%), bacterial count (14%) as well as acid phosphatases (27%), phytase (18%), nitrogenase (23%) and dehydrogenase (12%) activities in Bt cotton compared with non-Bt cotton fields.

Source: Applied Biological Research 14 (1): 00-00, 2012 effect of bt-transgenic cotton on soil biological healthJagadish C.Tarafdar*, IndiraRathore and Vandana Shiva Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, Rajasthan – 342 003 (India) Navadanya, A-60, Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110 016, India, email:;

The study was repeated in 2015, and the soil microorganisms had further declined due to Bt toxin. The decline ranges between 6 and 77% of different parameters, which indicate the severe adverse effect of Bt Cotton on soil biological health. A decrease in bacterial population between 51-77% was noticed under Bt Cotton growing areas as compared to non-Bt cotton soils of different districts.

Bt cotton has failed to control the bollwormand has instead led to increase in resistant pests.

Herbicide resistant Roundup up Ready Crops have increased the use of herbicides like Roundup which has been established to be a carcinogen. Roundup also kills biodiversity of plants and pollinators dependent on them. They have also led to emergence of superweeds. Roundup Ready Bt Cotton is being illegally spread in India with no action from Government to prevent this illegal action take appropriate action against the perpetrators of this crime.

Bt Brinjal will spread the failure and tragedy we have already witnessed in Bt Cotton. Worse, since Bt Brinjal is a food crop there will be harm to public health. No independent research to prove the safety of Bt Brinjal exists. There are no long-term studies of more than 90 days or human feeding studies.

Bt Brinjal also contains anti-biotic resistant genes and poses serious public health concerns with the possibility of ‘horizontal gene transfer’ of anti biotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is already a major public health problem.

There are tried, tested, and successful alternatives for controlling press that do not harm the public health or environment.

The scientists, farmers, and citizens who gave evidence at the public hearing made it clear that any deliberate release of Bt Brinjal would be a threat to biodiversity and India’s environment.

India is the Centre of Origin/Diversity of Brinjal with more than 4500 varieties. The Govt cannot allow a gang of criminals sponsored by criminal corporations to violate India’s Biodiversity Act to contaminate and pollute this rich diversity.

The higher common good and larger public good is what our Biosafety and Environmental laws are supposed to protect.

Deliberately acting against laws that protect the common good for the greed of poison cartel of 3 global gene giants which already control 60% of the world’s seed supply through such illegal actions, is participation in their crimes against nature and humanity .

(Behemoth agrochemical companies are failing to deliver what farmers need to grow and what people want to eat.

Satyagraha is based on higher consciousness, to promote Ahimsa and stop brute law based on violence.

Thoreau engaged in civil disobedience against the poll tax which supported slavery. Gandhi undertook Satyagraha against apartheid in South Africa, against the forced cultivation of indigo in Champaran, in 1917 ,and against the imposition of the Salt Laws in 1930. Following in Gandhi’s footsteps we have undertaken Seed Satyagraha since 1987 to prevent the Poison Cartel from controlling our seeds, our agriculture, our food. India has Art 3j in our patent law which prohibits patents on plants, animals and seeds, since they are not human inventions.

During Gandhi’s 150 anniversary we will not allow such criminal actions undertaken by greedy corporate interests to equate the imposition of Seed Slavery with Gandhi’s Satyagraha. Monsanto is not Gandhi. Crimes against nature and society are not Satyagraha. We will uphold the integrity of Satyagraha -the force of truth-and not allow the idea and moral force of Satyagraha to be degraded and misused by those engaging in crimes against nature and people.

We count on the Government of India to strictly implement the Bt Brinjal ban, to uphold India’s Biosafety and Environmental law, and Gandhi’s legacy.


TRANSCEND Member Prof. Vandana Shiva is a physicist, ecofeminist, philosopher, activist, and author of more than 20 books and 500 papers. She is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and has campaigned for biodiversity, conservation and farmers’ rights, winning the Right Livelihood Award [Alternative Nobel Prize] in 1993. She is executive director of the Navdanya Trust.

Navdanya and the Navdanya movement were created by Dr. Vandana Shiva 30 years ago in India to defend Seed and Food sovereignty and small farmers around the world. Navdanya pioneered the movement of seed saving and seed freedom, which began in response to the crisis of erosion of agricultural biodiversity and introduction of GMOs and patents on seeds through intellectual property rights (IPRs) and so-called ‘free trade’ agreements. It has long fought against biopiracy, the patenting of indigenous knowledge by self-interested multinational corporations and won cases related to Neem, basmati rice and wheat in India. Navdanya promotes a new agricultural and economic paradigm, a culture of food for health, where ecological responsibility and economic justice replace the present greed, consumerism and competition which have become dominant in society. It aims at regaining the common good as a foundation for a renewed sense of community, solidarity and culture of peace. We strive to achieve these goals through the conservation, renewal and rejuvenation of the gifts of biodiversity we have received from nature and our ancestors, and to defend these gifts as commons. More…

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One Response to “Monsanto Is Not Gandhi: Crimes against Nature and Society Are Not “Satyagraha””

  1. While Monsanto’s cunning attempt to “paint” their unnatural and dangerous technology as somehow related to the sacred spiritual concept Satyagraha might represent the most immoral corporate public relations deception ever, people can find some reason for optimism in knowing Monsanto products are being rapidly banned in more regions around the Earth.

    Thank you to Vandana Shiva for rightly delivering a strong rebuke to Monsanto for even daring to consider such a blasphemous public relations stunt, which – because Monsanto executives are apparently unaware of the immense power they are foolishly playing with – in the perfect natural process, “Old as the hills” as Gandhi described it, came back to haunt them.

    May the day when dangerous genetically modified foods are totally eliminated from the face of the Earth come as soon as humanly possible.