India Under Siege from Genetically Modified Mustard
The latest concoction from the GMO food merchants is yet another potentially medically-harmful form of mustard.
The country it is being foisted on is India. There mustard is a major part of life and far more than the simple condiment North Americans are more familiar with. It is used in a wide variety of Indian cuisines so that it is consumed by many millions every single day and in substantial quantities. It also is a key component in animal feed and even soil restoration treatments.
The specific crop item involved here is Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11), developed at genetic laboratories by Delhi University. As with other GMO products, the business model that drove the development was one which has worked again and again for the industry. The Dhara Mustard was specifically engineered to grow well in spite of being saturated with the herbicide glufosinate, known under the trade name Liberty. To fight off unwanted growth from weeds and other unwanted plants in the fields where the GM Mustard is growing, the glufosinate could freely flow onto the fields and the plants. The plants would then thrive like never before, without having to fight the other growing things that would ordinarily invade their space.
It also did not hurt that the GM Mustard seeds, like other GM crops worldwide, would be patented seed crops and therefore ‘owned’ by their sellers. Which would mean that, like the situation in fields with other of those GMO items, if GM Mustard seeds were to blow over into other fields where farmers had not purchased them, they could be found guilty of patent infringement if any of those seeds grow.
It also did not hurt that the glufosinate herbicide is also a patented formula under that name Liberty, so that using it would also mean a virtual monopoly of the herbicide as well.
Also like the biotech world’s other GMO products, the DMH-11 mustard seeds are being touted as helping provide much higher yields than conventional mustard seeds in use in the region. After all, with all those other weeds out of the way there would be nothing to stop DMH-11 crops from producing at high rates.
Just like in the case of Monsanto’s claims for higher yields, the truth is the exact opposite. As a coalition of farmer unions said in their letter to the Indian government protesting the possible approval of the DMH11 seeds for sale, “GM mustard yields are lower than many recent, popular hybrids and varieties. The testing has been rigged to have favorable results.”
This time, unlike in the United States where govern-
ment representatives are firmly planted in the pockets of the GMO manufacturers, here the Chief Minister of the State of Bihar said that the “testing was deliberately misleading so as to obtain favorable results for GM Mustard”.
The safety of the combination of the DMH-11 seed and the glufosinate herbicide is also of significant concern as well. The reason here is that glufosinate is very similar to glyphosate, the herbicide in Monsanto’s Roundup brand which has been named as a cause of cancer in numerous countries as well as the state of California. Glyphosate has also been linked to increases in autism, breast cancer, kidney disease, liver disease and more in a number of studies. It has also been shown to be present in the harvested GMO crops that were exposed to the glyphosate herbicides.
Glufosinate and its metabolite, MMPA-3 are neurotoxins that damage the nervous system and can kill brain cells. The chemical stays active for extended periods and migrates through the soil and can end up in water tables. It negatively impacts soild microbes and radical alters soil biology. It is toxic to wildlife as well as humans.
Like glyphosate, glufosinate can cause DNA damage and create new pathogen from soil microbes, in insects, wildlife and in the human body. It is essentially a bio-weapon that can have devastating consequences.
In an earlier time DDT spraying ended up contaminating birds and fish, and then were concentrated as the lower forms of food were eaten by others further up the food chain. With the DMH-11 mustard seed, the mustard will make its way into soil treatments, animal feed and direct human-consumed product as well. It will even affect honey, as bees come to the mustard plants and bring the contaminated mustard pollen back to their hives. So, like it or not, even honey will begin to be polluted with GMO mustard and its accompanying glufosinate.
In the case of DMH-11, the consequences of planting are far worse than for other forms of GMO products for other reasons. Because of the nature of how mustard plants live, they can send pollen as much as 75 meters away from them. So once the crops begin to have any widespread adoption, very little could be done to stop it spreading further beyond the crops’ original borders.
This is a further shame in view of the presence of over 10,000 sub-varieties of mustard throughout the nation of India. If the DMH-11 mustard seed really begins to take hold, those sub-varieties will slowly begin to disappear. When biodiversity decreases anywhere, it also makes the whole nation not only more boring (because of the lack of varieties available for mustard seed), it also makes it more vulnerable to the presence of new weeds or other pests who will naturally evolve to survive the presence of glufosinate spraying. That could lead to further spraying still to stop them, the need for further GM varieties to be developed to respond to the evolution of those pests, or the development of more dangerous pesticides. It could also mean that, if the new evolved pests take hold before solutions are available to deal with them, much damage could happen far faster to all forms of this valuable Indian staple.
Further harm still will happen when Indian’s now Gmo-produced mustard products are offered for sale beyond the country’s borders. With many countries banning import of GMO crops now, it will cause serious economic damage for the country if it gets approved.
Groups are currently mobilizing to demand that the government of India not approve DMH-11 for broad use. But with big agribusiness pouring money into the propaganda and, the fraudulent testing, and the politicians themselves who they need for the approvals, this is going to be one very tough fight.
Many GMOS are being developed and pushed onto the public not just to make money but also as a bio-weapon to reduce population and India has a big over-population problem. Contaminating the food supply, damaging human health and compromising the soil may be seen by some sinister people as a potentially effective way to control population.