New light has been shed on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the chicanery tactics of Monsanto. Former managing director of Monsanto India, Tiruvadi Jagadisan, admitted that the company faked scientific data to gain regulatory approval.
Jagadisan worked for Monsanto for almost two decades. Eight of those years he served as the managing director of India operations. He protested against a new variety of Bt brinjal during a public consultation in Bangalore last Saturday.
Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, a common soil bacteria that possesses a gene responsible for a protein harmful to fruit shoot borer (FSB) larvae. Geoengineers took this trait and inserted it into eggplant, also known as brinjal, to combat insect resistance.
By turning the eggplant into a form of insect poison, Monsanto claimed that it would reduce pesticide use. In actuality, farmers ended up having to use more pesticides because the GM Bt brinjal was targeted towards only one type of larvae.
First insider to expose Monsanto’s true colors
On Monday, Jagadisan admitted that Monsanto “used to fake scientific data,” which was sent to government regulatory agencies to obtain commercial approval for its commodities in India.
He went on to state that government regulatory agencies which Monsanto dealt with in the 1980s were dependent upon information provided by the company.
“The Central Insecticide Board was supposed to give these approvals based on the location and crop-specific data from India. But it simply accepted foreign data supplied by Monsanto. They did not even have a test tube to validate the data and, at times, the data itself was faked,” Jagadisan said.
“I retired from the company as I felt the management of Monsanto, USA, was exploiting our country,” he added.
“At that time, Monsanto was getting into the seed business and I had information that a ‘terminator gene’ was to be incorporated in the seeds being supplied by the firm. This meant that the farmer had to buy fresh seeds from Monsanto at heavy cost every time he planted the crop,” he said.
According to Jagadisan, the parent company broke promises made to the minister for chemicals and fertilizers, Vasant Sathe, about creating a manufacturing unit with the Hindustan Insecticides for the herbicide butachlor.
“The negotiations went on for over a year and in the meantime, Monsanto imported and sold large quantities of the product and made huge profits,” he said.
When Monsanto was asked to comment on Jagadisan’s allegations, a spokesperson responded:
“We have full faith in the Indian regulatory system, which has its checks and measures in place to ensure accuracy and authenticity of data furnished to them.” On approval of GM crops, the spokesperson said the regulatory process was stringent and “no biotech crops are allowed in the market until they undergo extensive and rigid crop safety assessments, following strict scientific protocols”.