Nepali Times
Guest Column
Why Monsanto?


In a USAID press release last month announcing a partnership between the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and Monsanto on a pilot maize production project in Nepal, we heard the same tired arguments of more nutritious food, increased yields and food security, and the requirement of less chemicals.

As elsewhere, these arguments were used to justify the introduction of hybrid seeds and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Throughout the world there is evidence to the contrary. Two years after the introduction of Monsanto seeds in Canada and the United States, for example, yields started to go down between 10-15 per cent. There has been a substantial increase in the use of chemicals resulting in the creation of "super weeds" requiring more highly toxic "super" chemicals, some containing agent orange.

Canadian activists say Monsanto uses test plots to introduce GMOs into a country because the dominant gene in the new seeds spread through pollination, contaminating conventional and organic farms. Only four years after the introduction of Monsanto's seeds in Canada, no pure canola seeds and no pure soybean seeds remain.

It is frightening, then, that under the pretext of 'improving food security' USAID will be implementing the pilot program in the key and already well established maize producing districts of Chitwan, Nawalparasi, and Kabhre.

To gain control of the seed supply, Monsanto is known to  intentionally break down the social fabric of rural communities. In a country where people, including USAID, are working to build cohesion, this is a crucial point to consider. Monsanto takes away a farmer's right and ability to use his/her own seed and forever after farmers must buy their seeds and chemicals from Monsanto.

Hybrid maize seeds were actually introduced in Nepal a decade ago. In the foothills where I am living and researching environmental change, farmers are currently using hybrid corn seeds produced by the Indian company Shriram Bioseed Genetics, among others.

Hybrid seeds need chemical fertiliser. Nowadays, if people do not increase their chemical fertiliser use each year, their crops will not grow. New grasses, disease and insects have also arrived, native grasses have been compromised and the soil damaged. Poor farmers must spend more money and time dealing with this.

Heirloom seeds do not grow well in the new chemical 'rich' soil so people here are forced further into a relationship of dependency with the Agricultural Development Office where they must buy hybrid seeds and chemical fertiliser. All this adds to their monthly expenses, which they can ill afford.

If hybrid seeds have already been introduced and, more than likely, farmers in the target districts already provided with training from the districts' agricultural offices, and if already well-established agri-business companies exist in Nepal, why has USAID chosen to work in partnership with Monsanto, if not for control of the seed supply and future introduction of GMOs?

USAID and Monsanto are not implementing this program for the 'development' of Nepal and the betterment of the people. It will profit both, and cement the relationship between the US government and Monsanto already revealed in Wikileaks.

A small number of thulo manchhe haru in the Nepal government will profit, but Nepali farmers will get poorer, Nepali soil will be damaged. The export potential will very likely be damaged with many countries refusing to import food products from Monsanto's hybrid and GMO seeds. If the pilot program goes ahead, the United States will leave a legacy of environmental degradation, human health issues, social disintegration and hardship.

The USAID-Monsanto partnership is blatant exploitation of a corrupt and unstable government in Nepal. There is no 'point of no return' when it comes to this issue. Monsanto's presence in Nepal will be irreversible and will result in the introduction of genetically-modified crops, further alienating farmers from their land and food production, with disastrous consequences.

The majority of the people of Nepal will not be better off, in fact, their lives and livelihoods will be made more difficult.

Sascha Fuller is a PhD candidate in environmental anthropology at the University of Sydney, Australia and is currently conducting research in rural Nepal.

Read also:
Going to seed
Hybrid and genetically-modified seeds may create more problems than they solve

Rice crisis

1. Arthur
"Only four years after the introduction of Monsanto's seeds in Canada, no pure canola seeds and no pure soybean seeds remain."
In other words Canadian canola and soybean farmers prefer the new seeds.
Even with three articles in Nepali Times you won't prevent Nepali farmers following their example.

2. Raghu

The main  objective of U.S./Monsanto is to dominate world agriculture with genetically modified seeds in the absence of labeling of genetically engineered foods

Contries like South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand have all  passed laws requiring the labeling of GM foods. Nepal should pass such law as well.

Mosanto seeds are patented and to use them, farmers must buy new seeds from Monsanto every year. Thus, a farmer who adopts GM seeds could become dependent upon a transnational corporation.

Thus, nations, whose farmers are dependent upon corporations for seed, might forfeit considerable political independence.



3. B2B

It is always my way deal or no deal at all! Many poor nations are too screwed up to know what is good and what is bad.

Nepalese are beholden to the writer Sascha F�ller to have revealed this another con game getting displayed just in front of us. Had our American friends be sincere and had done in a way a bout of soul-searching, they would never have dared bringing with them this society called as Monsanto or erstwhile known as Union Carbide, the infamous society which provoked the deadliest of the chemical disaster causing the death of thousand and thousand of the population at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.

The US must revise its way of doing diplomacy. Have they already forgotten the suicides of thousands of farmers in India thanks to the Monsanto seeds?

No go! Monsanto must be ousted at once to save our agriculture. It is even more devastating than the Maoism for the rural farmers. Because it is for sure to become 'designated slaves' of an international society.

Catastrophe can come in many ways, but a sure fire one is to deliberately deny people the information that could save their source of income!?!

4. who cares
1. Arthur

so you are the evil capitalist who hates capitalist. 

5. santosh
I cudn't agree more..
I would even go so far as to say
its about time to stop 'parachuting' any quick fixes anywhere.
Times are now changing n we are getting to see the side effect of 'modern wonders' in every walk of life. High time we took everything with a pinch of salt- all we enjoying the world now have a greater responsibility for those who are yet to come...

6. Yadav Khatiwada
Could this article be translated into Nepali and published in a daily newspaper for a wider readership?

7. Raj
Nepal should be careful to ensure that any agricultural technology it introduces is appropriate for the country.

It must be equally careful not to make knee jerk reactions and misinformation. Ms. Fuller is mistaken on many of her facts and seems to be heavily influenced by the anti-technology factions in the west. For instance, agent orange has long been banned in the west and will not be used in with new GM crops. GM crops have actually greatly reduces the use of very toxic insecticides in cotton in India while at the same time greatly boosting production.

Furthermore, this project does not involve GM  crops - simply hybrids. Hybrids greatly increase yields and have been successfully introduced in developing countries throughout the world. They may not be appropriate for all areas of Nepal (particularly hilly areas where annual access to new seed is limited) but they do have great benefits.

Nepal is one of the most food insecure countries in the world. Ms. Fuller will return home to Canada when she is finished her research where she can likely afford to buy organic food at chic stores. For many in Nepal - they simply need more food. Technology should be neither blindly adopted, nor should it be blindly rejected (as Ms. Fuller suggests).

Monsanto is conducting a trial. The trial will help to determine whether these hybrids CAN help Nepalis. No one should oppose this.

8. Huge Grant
I see a lot of Monsanto fuzz here already. It is thier PR people. We should not buy into what they say. Pilot or no-pilot. No to MONSANTO.

9. Amrit Nepali
One might claim it to be skeptic but this documentary is a testimony of how corporations took over the farms all over the US for their corporate gain and disregarded the health of the consumers.
This is not what I would like to see happening in my Nepal.

10. Raj
What fuzz? Be specific and I will be happy to provide citations.

11. Kumar Bijayananda
People must be made aware of this evil corporation!!! They won't hesitate to destroy peoples lives and natural ecosystem for their profit. Anybody with access to google can learn all about it, unfortunately not too many in Nepal have to access to internet or read english especially the farmers who'll be affected more than anybody else. This is not the first time Monsanto is doing this. This has been done in the past with devastating results. Just look at Indian cotton for example. "The Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti farmers advocacy group has approached the local state Govt. of Maharashtra to arrange a high level probe of all complaints received from farmers of west Vidarbha where more than 10,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide since June 2005 after the introduction of the killer Bt cotton seeds in this region."

Quick quote from wiki: Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications (referring to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) explained the company's regulatory philosophy to Michael Pollan in 1998: "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is FDA's job."

This is in US under FDA's watch (I'm not sure if that means a whole lot.) Can you imagine what they can do in Nepal where you can buy any government official for dime a dozen.

This must be stopped and nepali media needs to do its job of getting the information to the people.

12. Anti-anarchy
To regard any big company trying to increase food production because of some knee-jerk rejection of technology will mean a lot of people in Nepal and elsewhere around the world will go hungry. I am no fan of Monsanto's past, but to reject it outright may consign millions to starvation. You may be right about GMOs (but even here the fears seem to be overblown) but hybrids? Breeding seeds so that they improve yields is what made the green revolution possible. Those opposed to it want their populations to go hungry. 90% of Nepal's farms are organic, and if they remain organic they are not going to feed 50 million Nepalis by 2030.

13. Saroj Thapa

kudos to Sascha Fuller for standing up against the might of USAID, Monsanto and corrupt, unpatriotic and obsequious high ranking Nepali officials.

Saroj from USA

14. Jhapali
Listen to Arthur the paid spokesman for Monsanto - "In other words Canadian canola and soybean farmers prefer the new seeds."
The truth is that the seeds invade and destroy the heirloom variety until there is none left. Or Monsanto has blacklisted regular farmers in the market place by buying off the politicians.  There is a reason that Monsanto is the most hated corporation in the world EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

And then there's Raj - "Monsanto is conducting a trial. The trial will help to determine whether these hybrids CAN help Nepalis. No one should oppose this." I'd like to perform a trial of a new AIDS vaccine on YOU and YOU "should not oppose this." You down?

This is Agri-business and it comes with AID money. When you accept one, you accept the other. Nothing new here. Let's not worship money like the quireys.

"Vihaya kaman yah sarvan pumams carati nihsprhah nirmamo nirahankarah sa santim adhigacchati"

15. jhapali
Also, don't listen to Raj's fuzzy logic. He's still being commanded by the same Monsanto who paid to change a report finding GMOs as deadly and cancer-causing to healthy and nutritious and presented it to the FDA where another one of their ex-board member approved its use. Why do you think the US consumers want GMO labels on their food but Monsanto spends over 1/2 billion every year to lobby Washington and stop it. This company is a total joke and none of their workers should ever be allowed to set food on Nepali soil. By the way, Hybrid is code for GM. If you haven't figured this out by now, you are too far behind the ball. And those who support this injustice will get what they deserve.

"Yac capi sarva-bhutanam bijam tad aham arjuna na tad asti vina yat syan maya bhutam caracaram" - I am the seed of all existence, without me there can be no existence.
By removing the true DNA of corn and replacing it with the terminator gene, Nepalis seek to end their existence in the words of Lord Krishna.

16. Len Aldis

Thanks for this article and very much hope that readers will take note that for USAID to introduce any Monsanto productts in any country is a disgrace.  GMseeds have proved to be a failure, scientists of international repute have exposed the claims of Monsanto.  But, the US Government has decided to encourage countries to take Monsanto's Seeds, why?  Within the Obama Government leading positions are held by Ex-Monsanto directors.

Can I ask that readers view this website: We have just released a Cal for Action for Monsanto's Annual General Meeting being held on 24th January 2012.  See text below:

Agent Orange Action Group Calls for protest at Monsanto's annual general meeting.

Monsanto, the company that manufactured Agent Orange used on Vietnam resulting in the deaths of many thousands of Vietnamese and the abnormal births of many thousands more, and also among military forces from the US and other countries who served during the Vietnam War, announced on 25th October that its Board of Directors has designated

Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 as the date of the next annual meeting of shareowners. 

Monsanto's annual meeting will be held at the company's headquarters facility in suburban St. Louis. Additional meeting details will be included in the company's proxy statement, which will be available in December.  

Len Aldis, Chairman of Agent Orange Action Group called upon all who are suffering from the effects of Agent Orange to take this opportunity to purchase shares in the company in so doing they can express their anger and concerns by asking questions to the board members for the criminal damage Agent Orange has caused to all victims and their families. 

For those unable to purchase share, to encourage others to join you outside the meeting in a peaceful expression of your anger. 

Len Aldis. Chairman

Agent Orange Action Group

Visit our website:



17. FunkyMonkey
Mr. Raj might be on a USAID payroll. Other than for the direct beneficiaries of Monsanto's predatory tactics (i.e. its shareholders and employees), there are no benefits of using their 'hybrids'. Why don't you enlighten us on what happens if a farmer who does not buy the hybrids but gets his field cross pollinated and Monsanto comes to sue him, as is the tradition? What if that farmer doesn't want his crops cross-pollinated and won't like to buy the seeds every year?

There are many Nepali agriculture scientists across the world, especially in Canada. If the government actually cares about farmers and the food future of this country, it would take steps in getting help from our own, and not the oh-so-benevolent Americans whose defining characteristics are GREED and VANITY. I'm sure US government can get Monsanto to engineer seeds that will cure Obesity and Stupidity, the other defining characteristics of most of the Americans. 

Leave Nepal alone, or there will be consequences of any Monsanto operations. 

18. Sascha Fuller
It's great to see so many people engaging with this issue. A couple of comments from my side. 

@Yadav. Thanks for your encouragement. We're trying! 

@Arthur. As you more than likely know there has been a huge backlash against Monsanto seed products in both the United States and Canada, hence Monsanto's need to move into less informed, vulnerable markets such as Nepal. In Canada farmers had absolutely no control over the loss of their seed - how could you possibly prefer one seed over another when you had no choice?  Yes we can use Canada as a great example, and many other countries throughout the world too, where Monsanto Company has promoted their seed. It is through the experience and accounts of the ill-effects suffered that we can learn about the true nature of Monsanto's seed products and the Nepali Government and Nepali citizens should take heed. 

@Raj ji. I am hardly a luddite. This morning, for example, from my room in village Nepal I was involved in a skype conference call with people from Canada, the United States, India and Kathmandu discussing this issue. I spent much of the day on my mobile phone and social networking sites because many people, people who embrace new technology are alarmed by this development. This is not an anti-agriculture technology stance but a pro-people stance. This is an issue of power, control, misinformation, environmental degradation and contamination.

As you rightly suggested, some facts outside 'the West' concerning only Monsanto's hybrid seed should be provided. Let's take India for example. Maize is the third largest cereal crop grown in India. Monsanto has a maize product portfolio there of 14 'high-yielding' seeds, representing a 38% share of the market (2008). Having penetrated their hybrids into economically and environmentally vulnerable areas they are now aggressively pursuing partnerships with state governments to expand their market and introduce GM products. In projects "Sunshine" and "Golden Rays", where Monsanto's hybrid seed was promoted and around 170,000 traditional farmers targeted, farmers reported their yields decreased in the second year after introduction with consistent decreases after that, the hybrid seed consumed twice as much water (a problem for rain-fed agriculture), required more money (and more borrowing from lenders), required more fertliser and was less nutritious and of poorer quality, only suitable for domestic livestock feed and exports (not for food). Furthermore, in all of the MoU's signed with the state governments to implement these programs Monsanto took away the rights of the farmer and the rights of local and state governments, meanwhile reducing their own liability and accountability, preventing any legal course against them if crops should fail. And crops do fail!  If we cannot learn from the experience of Canada and the United States, surely the evidence from India will suffice as reason enough for the Government of Nepal to halt the introduction of Monsanto's hybrid seed here, in a country where maize is the second largest staple crop. 

Arguments of improved food security should be based on access and equity and not on food supply. This is not a problem of food production but one of food distribution. Moreover, Monsanto's hybrid maize, from a Nepali farmer's point of view is unfit for human consumption and will only be used for livestock feed. I'm not too sure the buffalos are happy about that either!

If this wasn't such an important economic and political issue for the United States government, it would be a moral issue and the whole world would be up in arms about the destruction of their soil and food system because we cannot eat money. 

19. devD
Seems to be a good write up for awareness but lacks proper research. I wonder where she found that the US yield has decreased? Please be more factual and take a look at this

While just crying over the entry of Monsanto into Nepal won't do any justice... neither to the farmers nor to the country.. Hybrid crops are selected for their genetic superiority over their parents. This is the crucial point to switch over towards hybrid seeds.
However, I agree to the author's point of view of multinational companies ripping the poors. But stopping Monsanto will not increase our yields. We need to have governmental breeding programs that compete with the multinationals while supporting the people. Competition brings progress. If the yields of the new crops is high then the farmers will adopt it anyways.. we have seen recent example in the adoption of Indian maize that became a disaster. This is a good example and a good place where the government has to intervene and let Monsanto release its variety with proper testing only and with responsibilities from Monsanto for any aberrant parameters if seen.
We need to have our own stable breeding program for the welfare of our farmers and the whole nation.

20. Homer
Looks like Raj works for USAID or Mosanto? Couldn't think of a better name than Raj?

21. Bbhatt
Monsanto should NOT be allowed to enter Nepal...I agree that more people and specially farmers should be made aware of the implication by grassroot publicity in Nepalese. I also found a free documentary on the web "The Future of Food"that may shed more light in this topic.

22. GyaRel
A few years ago, I read an article on Time Magazine about the use of chemicals raise cattle, poultry, and pigs in a short period of time. The article tells that these chemicals are not fully consumed by the target animal, thus these chemicals remain in the meat of the animals and poultry after they are slaughtered and passed to human as a food. Then, these foods will enter to kids who are yet to grow. The article says that kids who take such foods have grown up so fast that they look like 12 years old by the age of 8.

So, the chemicals we use in agriculture today whether it is food or other food products finally reach to our blood. Well, it is 21st century, as a consumer, I don't have control or resources to get rid of this. I will silently consume these foods no matter how rebellious are my attitude against these foods. I love a clean cauliflower over the cauliflower that we used to grow back in Nepal when I was kid that had full of small "kira". I know the organic food has more "kira" than GM foods, and I don't like GM food in theory, but when I have cook them, I will prefer the clean one because of aesthetic reason, so I have to select one whether I have to use my brain or heart? I am driven by emotions i.e. aesthetic reason, because I will not want someone who eats food that I cooked sees "kira" over someone who sees clean food. That is why I don't go for organic food because to get the same quality "aesthetically", I have to pay a sky racketing price. As a middle class man, I need to balance my cost-benefit ratio. I would rather want better health insurance over organic food, that would improve my life expectancy. Well, when my kids were small, I did not have the money today I have, so I could not afford to have organic food for them. When I was a kid, I used to be happy if we had a at least one vegetable "tarkari" in my thaal. So, the GM vs organic food is matter of affordability. When I was kid the rice production was so bad that 30% of the year, I could not rice on my plate, 90% of the time, I did not have better rice of same quality that I have now. When we started to seeds supplied by Agri Dept called "Bikashe Biu", the life changed. As we get more water in rice field through irrigation, we got better. So, the organic food is for rich, and they continue to get punked at WalMart and Kroger, because I know that organic Cauliflower means it should be natural, and it should not that clean from my experience. So, the organic food in market is about what percentage is organic? 20, 30, 50, or 100%? Can we afford 100% organic food in both way: cost and aesthetically? I doubt you would like it aesthetically?

In these postings, I find Aurthur's comment amusing who is now supporter of capitalism because these seeds are patented, but his comments support directly or indirectly the patenting. You have become an oxymoron in this forum.

Good luck.

23. Vija Srestha

Reply to Arthur,

You must be totally ignorant.You can not even understand the passage.Let me put it in a simple way.

Just to promote their seeds,Monsato would use test plots(land),saying let's just try.'That's enough for Monsato ,it means ,the rest is done by nature,wind.Within four years of presence of such contaminated organisms even if they don't replant them again, is enough to destroy the crops originally grown in that area.GMO has done its job ,there are no pure canola seeds nor pure soybean seeds left.Mr.Arthur would you prefer to drink pure orange juice or the one made with artificial flowours.We can produce more for a while,we can have quick fixes for a while ,the consequences is the main concern of such actions for anything we choose to do.If Monsato seeds would be so qualitative,why till now millions of people go hungry???????????????????Which of these contains more vitamins.In the end of the day,nature itself decides ,soil,the environment keeps it balanced,one can not plant crops that require different conditions and environment to produce.One can not continue generations of any living thing by introducing artificial,quick genes to produce,With the years,it just grows extinct.Most of the third world countries and many Eurozone countries have become the experimental playground for big companies of USA etc and not just in agriculture.

I totally agree with Mrs.Fuller. It is through the experience and accounts of the ill-effects suffered that we can learn about the true nature of Monsanto's seed products and the Nepali Government and Nepali citizens should take heed. It is a pitty,that so called leaders of the governments,turn away from most basic problems,from most basic needs of their own people.

Nepali Government with leaders such as Dahal,Bhattarai and all those who signed 7point Pact Agreement care less about the consequences,their thinking haven't reached this level yet,they are just at the level of self -safety.

Love,self-estime,self-actualization,self-transcendence,these levels come after one has mastered all the previous levels as an individual .So let's start with the love directed with understanding towards consequences from our responsibilities and duties as human beings.

Canadian activists say Monsanto uses test plots to introduce GMOs into a country because the dominant gene in the new seeds spread through pollination, contaminating conventional and organic farms. Only four years after the introduction of Monsanto's seeds in Canada, no pure canola seeds and no pure soybean seeds remain.

24. beecharmer
Nepal is far from the first developing country targeted by Monsanto.  The company has terrorized farmers in the U.S. and expanded its campaign to poor countries in central and south america for many years.  The most instructive recent fights have been in rural India.  The examples of what has happened in those countries should serve as a deep alarm for Nepal.  This is not about organic/non-organic.  This is about preserving Nepali farmers' ability to farm without being beholden to an international corporation for seeds.  This is about long-term food security and self-sustainability for all of Nepal.

An interesting article about Monsanto's practices in the U.S.:

25. madhavi parajuli
NO TO MONSANTO!!!! Growing hybrids and Genetically Modified Organisms in our soil will ruin it leading the field to barren and infertile. So encourage growing our own local varieties!!!

26. Arthur
Sascha Fuller #18, and others,

Agriculture in developed countries is far more productive than in countries like Nepal because it uses much more advanced technology. This includes machinery, chemicals, breeding improved plants and animals and most recently genetically modified plants and (soon) animals.

But the real problem in backward countries like Nepal is not the absence of such modern technology but the domination of an extremely reactionary semi-feudal mentality which actively opposes any advance whatever, whether in agricultural technology or anything else.

As a result a country like Nepal cannot feed itself, despite the overwhelming majority of the population working in agriculture, while a country like Canada exports food to the rest of the world with only 2% of its labor force working in agriculture.

Of course it is true that there is a "backlash" and "activists" against this in developed countries. We in developed countries can afford to put up with them. Unfortunately we are also encouraging them to leave us alone and peddle their stuff in developing countries like Nepal.

"In the US, by 2009/2010, 93% of the planted area of soybeans, 93% of cotton, 86% of corn and 95% of the sugar beet were genetically modified varieties."
Obviously Monsanto is not interested in Nepal because it has been rejected in the US but because it has already succeeded in the USA. It is NGO activists that have been unsuccessful in the developed world and are therefore trying to prevent poor countries like Nepal from doing what they were unable to prevent in a developed country like the USA.
This is UTTERLY SHAMEFUL. Nepal cannot afford to live off US food donations. It has to become part of the modern world.
There is a big market for this kind of "activism" in Nepal because so many of the "educated" are utterly cut off from the life of the large majority living on less than $2 per day. 

27. Vija Srestha

'unsuccessful in the developed world and are therefore trying to prevent poor countries like Nepal from doing what they were unable to prevent in a developed country like the USA.'

This is your answer,it is easier in Nepal where people don't have rules and regulations,currency is the regulator and quality of life.Made in USA ,is the label that atracts Arthur the most,consequences,Arthur doesn't think about them too much to expect and the answer to that you can not find in the dictionary.Grow up !

28. Soni
Arthur, you have just crossed the limit of ridiculousness. 

Everybody in Nepal is connected to those who are involved in agriculture through family ties. I would urge you to try and find one person in Nepal who is not connected with the reality of the villages. This, of course, excludes the criminal masquerading as revolutionaries of Maoist variety who (intoxicated by their power)  who are not connected to the real Nepal, daydreaming of a day when Nepal would become a template of their soulless utopia.

Whether Monsanto is right or not would be known in the course of time but when it comes to high levels of agricultural productivity you simply have it wrong so let me educate you a bit on agriculture.

There are multiple factors which contribute and take away from agricultural productivity. 

It ranges from a lack of consolidated landholdings and lack of clear title of holdings. 

Lack of adequate and secure financing and insurance services and lack of market makers in the field. 

Weak supply chains and lag time to market hurts farmer confidence and weakens pricing power. Lack of modern intermediary services also contributes to slow productivity growth. 

Farmers not having cash at hand for a minimum of two seasons 

Over-watering of fields when waters is adequately supplied, or not having access to water is also a problem. 

Cropping methods hurt production as well, some part of is rightfully said to be a poor quality of seeds, but that can be remedied by local solutions that are not applied due to lack of cash, and sometimes initiative.

There is another factor which is not considered, they relate more to culture, for instance, deteriorating community relations, fear of going out into your fields as there have been incidences of violence perpetrated by Maoist lackeys and those who have benefited from a general end to the rule of law.

Meanwhile, I also oppose (mildly) the arrival of Monsanto and others because they threaten local variety of crops which are extremely unique. For instance Chananchur variety that grows in Tarai is better than the Basmati rice that is very popular but output per acre is low, farmers should be able to get a better price if markets functioned, they don't and that's because of Maoists who destroyed everything deliberately.

What one has to note about these things is that nature almost always shows its true displeasure over the long term. Chemical fertilisers are extremely harmful for fertility in the long-term. Compost etc works much better. 

Similarly, while mechanisation works extremely well in raising productivity, no mechanisation would work in small landholdings that dominate Nepal.

Finally, one of the reasons why US and the rest of developed world's farmers are highly productive is (partly) explained by the industrial size of land holdings which respond well to every additional unit of mechanisation introduced. It is also dependent on subsidies, a completely unfair policy instrument used by developed markets.

The issue is complex, whilst NGO type crusaders (who have ulterior motives) do actually demonise in order to gain influence in the corridors of power, blind faith in the power of tinkerers is also damaging.

The worst is using sarcasm and lies in anger and screaming out your position to drown out reasonable arguments made by others. 

I have still not seen you make a single reasonable argument ever. Try and be reasonable for once instead of ranting, screaming, and acting mad. 

This lack of your ability to make a sensible argument is perhaps behind the Maoist love for violence with guns and sawing off people's head who disagreed with you. Even now the ground level Maoist activities remain unchanged, its just a lackey media that is preventing the news of large scale abuse coming to fore.

So, when you reply, say something sensible.


29. Soni
Notwithstanding my uncharitable comment above, I do agree with Arthur on one point. Nepal cannot depend on food aid for ever, it quickly needs to get its act together, initiate policy and ensure execution to raise agricultural productivity.

This needs to be all encompassing, ensuring farmers that they will not be looted by the (now) government militia. That their ownership rights are unquestionable, that consolidating land holdings is legally protected. 

New financial institutions, retailers, professional supply chain managers and procurement functions need to be allowed to work effectively. 

Its a long road. The other step is to prevent these type of dangerous parasite NGO's from taking hold on policy making mechanism. These are dangerous whose real motives are highly suspect and relate to destruction of their host society at large.

30. B2B
This Arthur stuff sucks. First he came as the spokesperson of the Maoism now he is again for Monsanto!

He is definitely the messenger of death for Nepal in all senses.

Is Mother Nature a crutch?

Why an ancient inmate of Gulag is sermonizing Nepalese day in and day out?

You got to put a stop to it if you wish to avoid troubles!?!

31. jange

Kamred Arthur not only knows what is good for Nepali politics but also what is the solution for Nepali agriculture.

There is some consistency though- Monsanto probably have loot and extortion in common with the Maoists.

32. FunkyMonkey

Stupidity does come in large fonts. Find a different forum for your childish rant. In the US, majority want tax cuts for the rich and want to cut their own benefits. So let the highly advanced fools eat all the GMOs they want. There's very little to learn from Americans. Those stats on usage of GM foods only reflects Monsanto's monopoly. Cross-pollination is a natural phenomena and the seeds are engineered to take over, but then science may not interest you much. If USAID wants to aid the farmers, why not donate all those 'advanced' machinery that you claim to revolutionize agriculture instead of patented seeds that are bound to root out the wild type variety within few years leaving farmers with no choice but to 'buy' from Monsanto. The seeds are also engineered to require special fertilizers that will change the soil forever making farmers dependent on Monsanto when the 'AID' runs out. Surprise!

Foreign aid is good for NGO/INGO pimps and the political class. The most successful stories of improvement in quality of life of Nepali have involved Nepali themselves, e.g., programs in maternal and child health. So Nepali farmers need to think long and hard before accepting 'AID' from the world's most ravenous corporations, or else soon they will feel like what they received is actually worse than 'AIDS'. 

Here's another recent gem courtesy of Monsanto:

It's absolutely necessary to notice that much research is yet to be done on the effects of Monsanto's drugs and GM food on nature and human health. Most of the Americans don't even know where their food came from, so they are not to be emulated. 

And also don't forget that with Monsanto's patented seeds come outlawing of rainwater collection! They destroyed lives of Bolivian farmers with that tactic but were eventually forced out of the country. Even in US, the home of the most obese and stupid people in the whole world, multiple states have outlawed collection of rain water, thanks to Monsanto. 

Yes, Nepali agriculture methods need improvement and no, farmers don't want enslavement. Americans have better things to do, like watching 'Dancing with the Retards' and Kardashians' butt, than 'help' poor people. They are the ones who really need help. 

33. ASP
Arthur (#26), your argument and understanding is simplistic, your implicit "prescription/preference/wish" ignores the far-reaching neoliberalistic agenda Monsanto wants to pursue around the globe.

1. If Monsanto wanted to play a fair game, they would not be riding on the shoulders of USAID to reach farmers of Nepal. 

2. Once Nepali maize farmers start using Monsanto GM seeds, they are hooked for life on it and would be beholden to Monsanto. Monsanto would reap financial benefits on the back of poor Nepali farmers. This is the hidden neoloberalistic agenda of Monsanto you ignore. 

34. citizen
There obviously is enough to justify burning this company to the ground.

35. GyaRel

FYI, it is very interesting to let you know that lands that was confiscated by you dear Maoists in Nepal, has been sold by one Maoists to another to the current farmers while legal owner remains the original one. Now, Maoist leaders are in trouble on solving the problem: returning the property confiscated by their cadres.

Another fact, you should know is that the land distribution in Nepal according to law per head is so low that hardly any advanced automatic equipments can be used. I know that you are Dr. DK pretending to be Arthur who recently got US citizenship, and you know the situation in Nepal, and you are a great lier in this forum we all know. So, your dream of using advanced technology is not opposed by non-Maoists, but by Maoists themselves. When you have too many farmers in small land, how would you use advanced technology? Do you want them out of job? Then, where is Maoism. You are an oxymoron. Maoists in a very densely populated country like Nepal are the one who will oppose the use of advanced technology that will create unemployment. I will rather say F-off all imported heavy machines from Nepal, and use all labors to solve the problem of unemployment that will benefit Maoists because their base is labor.

36. Arthur
FunkeyMonkey #32, sorry about the large fonts. Actually I do not know how the fonts became bigger but I should have taken the time to fix it.

For those interested in the science, I provided a link to this wikipedia article, which includes BOTH the claims made by opponents and a more objective account, including references to the actual scientific studies that have refuted them. Here it is again, please take a look:

For example:

"A 2008 review published by the Royal Society of Medicine noted that GM foods have been eaten by millions of people worldwide for over 15 years, with no reports of ill effects.[107] Similarly a 2004 report from the US National Academies of Sciences stated: "To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population."[7] The European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation 2010 report on GMOs noted that "The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies."[108]"
The font got bigger when I cut and pasted from wikipedia.

With facts like that it is simply hysterical fearmongering to talk of "contamination" by GM crops as though they were some sort of poison.

Soni #28, you are quite right, there are many social and economic factors that are more important for agricultural productivity than technology. I was talking only about the opposition to technological change, and should have made that clear.

In particular you are correct that:

".. while mechanisation works extremely well in raising productivity, no mechanisation would work in small landholdings that dominate Nepal."

Land reform must be followed by cooperatives and the large majority of peasants must end up moving off the land to industrial jobs, eg in the 800 or so proposed area centers that should become centers of urban development instead of mere weekly markets. Instead, while semi-feudalism persists in Nepal, with tiny land-holdings, Nepalese are being forced to leave the country to find work, or to live on charity from NGOs (while the rich siphon off the aid that should have been used for development including urbanization and land consolidation with mechanization).

As for preserving niche local varieties like Chananchur that has lower output per acre that is a separate issue from attempts to ban GM foods. When people can afford a higher standard of living they are also able to buy niche products that have lower output per acre and are more expensive to produce. While they remain poor they are stuck with the cheapest. 

All, other issues have been raised about intellectual property etc. Obviously Monsanto is there for its own profit, not to help poor farmers (though they make most of their money from relatively rich agribusiness in the USA). There should be no royalties and scientific Research and Development on improved crops should be funded directly from the national budgets of developed countries instead of paid for by royalties. Even under capitalism and with private profit making companies like Monsanto, it would be better to simply pay them directly for the R&D than sell the results through royalties that slow down actual use of the R&D.

But that is to speed up the transformation. Obviously royalties slow it down. If GM seeds were available free of royalties, as they should be, then of course they would be adopted much more rapidly. So complaints about royalties from opponents of GM are just hypocritical. GM is spreading DESPITE the profiteering and royalties so these campaigners are fighting to BAN it, not to make it cheaper.

37. Impartial

Journalists should understand the science behind this issue before regurgitating enviromentalist sound bites. Demands for farmers to be organic and in perfect harmony with nature ignores their day-to-day realities and is an idealistic Western bias pushed on the poor. No farmer would reject hybrid seeds if they yield profits high enough to offset their increased costs of production. Math should be applied before ideology. Monsanto is no saint, but don't confuse them with the science of hybrid seeds and GMOs.

38. K Hill

We urgently require a strong crown research body to monitor the impact of GM crops, and how international corporate companies operate in countries like Nepal.

39. Kale
Quite appropriate, a dogmatic Maoist supporting a rapacious multinational. They must have a lot in common.

40. FunkyMonkey

Don't make this about superiority of the seeds. They might be. But it's a scheme that is not sustaining for the farmers in countries like Nepal. It will make farmers dependent for both seeds and fertilizers in the future, and USAID knows this very well, hence the generosity. And quoting Wikipedia article to describe science, really?

Here's an excerpt on the 'science' that Monsanto practices:

"The unpublished industry studies submitted to regulators are typically kept secret based on the claim that it is "confidential business information." The Royal Society of Canada is one of many organizations that condemn this practice. Their Expert Panel called for "completely transparent" submissions, "open to full review by scientific peers". They wrote, "Peer review and independent corroboration of research findings are axioms of the scientific method, and part of the very meaning of the objectivity and neutrality of science." Whenever Monsanto's private submissions are made public through lawsuits or Freedom of Information Act Requests, it becomes clear why they benefit from secrecy. The quality of their research is often miserable, and would never stand up to peer-review. In December 2009, for example, a team of independent researchers published a study analyzing the raw data from three Monsanto rat studies. When they used proper statistical methods, they found that the three varieties of GM corn caused toxicity in the liver and kidneys, as well as significant changes in other organs. Monsanto's studies, of course, had claimed that the research showed no problems. The regulators had believed Monsanto, and the corn is already in our food supply."

And here's the scientific publication mentioned above from 2009:

And Royal Society UK actually has multiple 'scientists' who are board members at Monsanto. (Look up George H. Poste, for example)  So I'll trust peer-reviewed journal a lot more than press releases from a 'society'. Most of these scientists are on the consulting payrolls. 

I have friends (scientists and engineers) who are employees at Monsanto who prefer 'organic' food for mysterious reasons. If it were not for the handsome pay and benefits, none of them in their good conscience would be working at Monsanto, and none of them like to let others know that they work for Monsanto. So let's keep the 'advancement' confined to the advanced countries. Local varieties are good for both health and taste. 

41. Soni
Quite fair with the response Arthur. It is easy to suggest that there must be "land reforms" and that "peasants" must end up moving off the land to industrial jobs. Nobody can disagree with the terminology. 

However, concerns are with what the terminology means for our rulers and the mechanism by which the "peasants" must move to industrial jobs. Then there are concerns about how these industrial jobs must come about. But then, that's for some other time.

More to the point, there is hardly any issue with Monsanto making profits, if they didn't they would not have been able to produce such wonderfully advanced products. The danger instead is that they would end up having a far longer term damage on an exceedingly fragile environment that Nepal is blessed with. 

42. Sjustice
What is really shameful is not that GMO industries and their products are attempting to come into Nepal, but that USAID, DFID, Gates,  and many other donors, development agencies and NGOs continue to look for and rely on low hanging, silver bullet germ plasm technologies and short term projects that they claim will improve the lives, and increase food security of Nepalese farmers. 

The improvement of agriculture in Nepal and most other developing countries will not come from easy GMO technologies and quickly implemented projects but from long term, hard work in improving farmers agronomy that close the yield gaps of the current crops/varieties, intensify agriculture and relieve the current drudgery. 

I would like to point out that if you go to the large scale-large budget irrigation project areas like LGWP  the East or West Gandak  irrigation projects where irrigation, improved seeds, increased use in fertilizers are already the norm you will still find stagnated yields, low levels of productivity, diversification and intensification. A GMO seed will not change this situation. 

Improved and knowledge  intensive agronomies, better access to small and scale agricultural  machinery (2-wheel tractors, reapers, threshers, STW and small horsepower pumpsets and even combine harvesters) will bring the benefits to the small farmers that we all want. 

If activists are wanting to encourage  efficient, competitive, sustainable family farms they really need to look past this GMO row and to the current Nepal terai farm model patterned after the Punjabs of Pakistan, whose large HP machinery has limited scope for improving the life of the average small scale Nepal farmer with fragmented holdings. Instead we should be promoting a models similar to  Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam where improved ag practices and their concomitant use of small scale, small horsepower machinery have led to incredible gains in small farm productivity and intensification  to where Vietnam and Thailand are now the #1 and #2 exporters of rice in the world and  the once "development basket case" of Bangladesh reached food security 10 years ago!

In the west it was not seeds- GMO or not- that led to corporate farming it was industrialization, unlimited holdings, and big horsepower tractors and machinery where one farmer can farm 500+ hectares of wheat on his or her own. Similarly, in Nepal  this western style corporate farming will not come from better access to GMO seeds, it will come from continued low levels of ag production and productivity with high levels of poverty and drudgery that will continue to force Nepal's sons and daughters off the farms, looking for something better. 

43. jhankri
There's a ton of documentaries about Monsanto on YouTube regardless of what your position on GM crops is Monsanto is clearly an unethical company.

44. Subas Dhakal/Perth WA

"Just Food" Please!

First of all the author of the article needs to be commended for raising this issue in the Nepalese media.

It is a highly debated topic even in places like Western Australia where a first legal case against GMO contamination got media attention recently.

Most of the comments on the article have been sensible but it is evident that USAID and MONSANTO are two sides of the same problem. While campaigning against the M is necessary it is also important to that usAIDS (pun intended) does not breach human rights in the name of international aid.

This aid agency aligning with MONSANTO is as dumb as Bush and Cheney searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 

I hope that the 'US senator repulsed with Chinese' will succeed in closing the agency in Nepal for Good.


45. GyaRel
Hahaha .hahaha ... at Arthur's approach of land reforms and moving labor to industry. Who is Arthur? Point Blank supporter of Maoists.

Arthur, it looks to me from you posting on this topic that your were supporting Maoists like Norwegian's were doing for last two decades: conflict of interest. Norwegians had two interests: expansion of religion, and grab the hydro-power in Nepal. It looks to me that your sole purpose for these many years seems to be bring the Monsanto to Nepal. Unless I know your real identity, I have started to suspect that whether you are one of the members in the core team of Monsanto Bring Nepal team. You were just waiting for a good opportunity by supporting them to bring your agenda: Monsanto to Nepal? I may be speculating, but how come a dire supporter of pheasants now says that move them to industry, and let the land be owned an owner in large number of acres so that s/he can implement advanced technologies like Monsanto and produce more with less investment (less labor). Wow wow!!! You are a great player man. You know game theory very well, and you know how to deceive people.

Arthur, you very well know that it is none other than Maoists who opposed the multinational industries in Nepal. Who is responsible for the closure of industries? You know it, I know it, and everyone else knows it: Maoists. So, for you the industry if offers major share to Maoists, then it will remain there, otherwise it is feudal. That is what I see in your last posting about "land reforms." You are a great cunning man, indeed.

Good luck to your Monsanto biz in Nepal. So, you are the main promoter, hmm?


46. Deep
Arthur is again confused; the pro-Maoist "anti-imperialist" who wants the greediest Western businesses to impose dependency on Nepali farmers as a blinkered offering to his great God of Progress. (Maybe if they were Indian companies his attitude would be different.) Increased crop yields from such agribiz practice are often temporary and unsustainable; as chemical fertilisers deplete inherent soil nutrition, yields decline - necessitating greater use of expensive chemicals. Meanwhile environment, water supply, livestock, soil and humans are polluted; no one doubts food supply/hunger issues, but solutions proposed here are an unnecessary road of "progress" and not one that has solved hunger where applied.

Indiscriminate application of pesticides can create a toxic cocktail with unforeseen consequences;

There is also a potential suicidal aspect to the uncritical imposing of technologies; Nepal and the rest of SE Asia is threatened by flooding from melting Himalayan glaciers/lakes; global warming is only added to by the production and use of ammonium- and nitrogen-based fertilisers.

47. Subash
It seems that Mr. Raj is an orange agent from Monsanto. Monsanto is an evil corporation trying to monopolize seed market in the world. We don't need monsanto's seed!

48. ASP
And why only blame Monsanto?

Why don't you folks blame the minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives?
Why don't you blame the prime minister for allowing this evil agreement between the Government of Nepal and Monsanto/USAID?

Why is Bauram Bhat Rai, the great purveyor of the common peasants mum on this evil, neoliberalistic principal-agent dominating relationship between Monsanto/USAID (principal) and Government of Nepal (agent)?

Why is Bauram Bhat Rai preventing Monsanto/USAID from exploiting poor Nepali peasants from lifelong economic "slavery"?


49. ASP

In post #48, the last para should have read:

Why is Bauram Bhat Rai NOT preventing Monsanto/USAID from exploiting poor Nepali peasants AND SAVING THEM from lifelong economic "slavery"i 

50. Deep
Dear friends,
Please sign the petition and also, please relay the message to others.

51. Thomas

Farmers in the US, which is the largest user of GMO seeds in the world, are not dunderheads; they are businesspeople interested in maximizing profits.  If GMO crops in general really caused yields to decline 10-15%, while all other costs remained the same, then GM would not have quickly expanded across the US to claim ~90% of the market for soybeans, for example.  The author didn't get into specifics, but let's look at what GM soybeans really are.  They contain a genetic modification that makes them immune to the broad spectrum weedkiller Roundup, allowing the soybean plant to thrive while competing weedgrowth is killed by the pesticide Roundup.  One of the primary benefits of so-called Roundup Ready soybeans is that they require up to 40% less conventional pesticides to control weeds, directly benefiting the farmer's bottom line, and reducing the amount of pesticide chemicals spread into the environment and consumed by humans. 

GM crops have been used extensively in the United States and other top tier agricultural countries such as Canada, Brazil, and Argentina for the past 15 years, consumed by hundreds of millions of consumers, with no scientifically-proven ill effects.  While conspiracy theorists (and there are plenty of those in the West, not just in Nepal) may claim this GM-dominance is due to collusion between Monsanto and western governments, American trial lawyers have no loyalty to either Monsanto or the US government and would happily sue GM seed producers for billions if any credible evidence of adverse health consequences could be found and proven.

As Sjustice (#42) wrote above, the discussion about GMOs should really be a small part of the overall discussion on how to improve agricultural productivity growth in Nepal.  A pilot maize production program to demonstrate (or not) the advantages of GM maize seems perfectly appropriate, but must be just one small part of a multi-pronged and continuous program to pilot and then bring the latest techniques (like SRI), appropriately-sized machines, inputs, and financing to all of Nepal's farmers.  No doubt agricultural extension programs, as so many other facets of Nepali life, would benefit immensely from having a stable and focused government in Kathmandu.

52. who cares
instead of genetically modifying friendly living things, why dont they modify genes of unfriendly living things, so that other unfriendly living things would mate with modified unfriendly living things and produce unfriendly living things that can be easily killed by friendly living things?  

53. Question
Anyone commenting here read the article about the rice crisis in Jumla? As of Novemeber 9, there are fifty comments in this article but only two on the one on the Jumla crisis. Why? What does this difference say about us who comment on Nepalitimes' message boards?

54. Arthur
FunkeyMonkey #40, the scientific paper you referenced was also mentioned in the wikipedia article I linked to. Neither I nor other commentors here are qualified to enter into the scientific debate. If you are interested in the opinions of people who are, and whose duty it is to protect consumers from potentially harmful food additives you might be interested in this refutation of the results of the study you quoted from the Australian Government's Food Standards authority. The overviews of the peer review literature that I quoted from wikipedia take into account BOTH the occasional negative papers relied on by GM opponents AND the refutations of these papers. 

55. ASP

In post #48, the last para should have read:

Why is Bauram Bhat Rai NOT preventing Monsanto/USAID from exploiting poor Nepali peasants AND SAVING THEM from lifelong economic "slavery"i 

56. Soni
I am sorry but just two things, I don't understand how Monsanto is evil. What Monsanto has produced is a technological marvel that may help us deal with the issue of a rise in global population. 

Low produce would push food prices higher, shortages could be widespread. We need scientists who they have on their rolls to deliver solutions for us, and high output and disease resistant grain would help us in future.

#53, Its very simple, there is nothing to say about that situation that is not linked to this problem. It is not a religious ritual to comment on every article or to be worried about everything specifically. What would I say about that situation? Or anybody say about the situation?

Crop failures are not unheard of. The solution is to have insurance, better trade, improvement in connectivity so that any shortfall can be dealt with and food supplied. 

Simply making passionate speeches and blaming someone does not work. This issue has attracted attention for different reasons, you are going to have to go over the comments to find out what motivated each.

57. Mr. Poudel

"GM crops have been used extensively in the United States and other top tier agricultural countries such as Canada, Brazil, and Argentina for the past 15 years, consumed by hundreds of millions of consumers, with no scientifically-proven ill effects."

15 years is not at all an adequate time frame to scientifically prove the safety of any crop, especially GMOs. GMOs need to be tested for at least (i.e. a minimum of) 50 years (2 generation of human consumption) before even attempting to draw any sort of conclusion.

We have had thousands of years of conventional crop agriculture. And now all of a sudden you expect us to accept GMOs, within 15 years of its 'viral modification'? Well whether we like it or not, our government is already in foreplay with Monsanto... its only a matter of time before they start reproducing...

58. Subash
#56. Yes, Monsanto has been producing technological marvels. They have provided the humanity with such carcinogenic products as DDT, Dioxine, Agent Orange.

And think about it, using Monsanto's Round Up "herbicide" kills all plants (grass or other plants, and insects) except Round Up ready crops (corn, cotton etc). If the chemical is so powerful to kill other plants, what will it do human beings when we consume Round Up ready products? It is better to eat less than have more and die soon.

Once Monsanto's Round Up seeds are planted, there is no going back. Farmer's cannot keep seed for next year, they have to buy seeds every year from Monsanto, and chemicals as well. Every year more herbicides needs to be used in order to combat super grass, more water is needed for cultivation. It's a disaster for farmers, pure and simple. The only one who gains from this so called GMO seeds is Monsanto and people associated with it, like USAIDS, and FDA employees in US.

The number one reason behind suicides of Indian cotton farmers is Monsanto. Farmers become salves to Monsanto once they use Monsanto's seed.

If a farmer's crops get cross pollinated with Monsanto's GMO seeds - even unknowingly to the farmer - Monsanto will sue the farmer for patent infringement. This is a really scary issue for agricultural nation like ours. All the harm done to the plants, soil, and environment by using their chemicals will be farmer's and the product will be Monsanto's.

I request to Dr. Baburam Bhattarai to not let Monsanto pollute our land. Kick Monsanto out of country!!!

59. Deep1
 There are 2 Deeps posting here -I'm the one @ post #46, not #50 - so from now on I'm Deep1.

60. Bimal Regmi

I agree with the author. WE HAVE TO SAY JUST NO TO MONSANTO. It will destroy our tranditional system and genetic resources. The intention of MONSANTO is clear where it want to spread hegemony and control over genetic resources in the world. It will be suicide for our agriculture system and farmers.


61. Himali Bird
Nepali farmers can and do use hybrid seeds especially for certain vegetable crops.  USAID subsidizing and endorsing Monsanto though to dominate the Nepali seed market borders on criminal and is clearly a "conflict of interest".  How ironic that it was USAID that first supported development of Nepal's seed industry in Rukum, that before the Peoples War was even exporting seed to India and Bangladesh.  USAID has also provided "Do No Harm" training for its partners !  

Monsanto is a chemical company with an appalling track record worldwide.  It will happily take over Nepal's seed supply by first subsidizing seed and then later raising its prices and profits.  With so many small farmers eventually the smaller farmers will be bankrupted by this move. They will neither be able to afford the seeds or the expensive and harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides these hybrids have been bred to need or to produce their own seed.  Nepal is a small market which needs a variety of seeds to cope with elevational and microclimate differences.  A company like Monsanto will never find this economic and respond.  Nepal has been identified as one of the countries at the environmental extremes most likely to be impacted by climate change.  It needs to maintain and promote a responsive local seed industry for climate adaptation not become yet another victim of Monsanto's corporate greed.  Just as India and developing countries have resisted dominance of a few large chemical drug companies dominating the drug supply so too do they need to prevent the dominance and control of these seed companies over the food supply.  

USAID claims this is part of it's "Feed the Future" strategy to help Nepal but it seems it is more about rewarding vested interests in America.  The Nepal government needs to reject such misplaced aid and stop CHEMONICS/FINTRAC and the NEAT program from doing this under the radar. These are companies that operate purely to profit from USAID that care little for the countries in which they operate or the damage they do.  In Nepal they hide behind anonymous project names so that they are not associated with the damage they do evading government regulation by the Social Welfare Council claiming to be mandated by vague bilateral agreements with little transparency in their operations.  It is time for the government, agricultural experts and civil society to pay more attention to the planned "support" from USAID when this is so clearly not intended to benefit Nepal but instead benefit American companies. 

62. ASP
We Nepalis are not dunderheads, either. If we are going to use GM seeds, we will buy it from Lesotho.

Not from Monsanto. Because we don't like the name of that company.


And I notice that Comrade Arthur has conveniently chosen to ignore the issue of neoliberistic agenda of Monsanto.

Double D'uh.

63. Himali Bird
Nepali farmers can and do use hybrid seeds especially for certain vegetable crops.  USAID subsidizing and endorsing Monsanto though to dominate the Nepali seed market borders on criminal and is clearly a "conflict of interest".  How ironic that it was USAID that first supported development of Nepal's seed industry in Rukum, that before the Peoples War was even exporting seed to India and Bangladesh.  USAID has also provided "Do No Harm" training for its partners !  

Monsanto is a chemical company with an appalling track record worldwide.  It will happily take over Nepal's seed supply by first subsidizing seed and then later raising its prices and profits.  With so many small farmers eventually the smaller farmers will be bankrupted by this move. They will neither be able to afford the seeds or the expensive and harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides these hybrids have been bred to need or to produce their own seed.  Nepal is a small market which needs a variety of seeds to cope with elevational and microclimate differences.  A company like Monsanto will never find this economic and respond.  Nepal has been identified as one of the countries at the environmental extremes most likely to be impacted by climate change.  It needs to maintain and promote a responsive local seed industry for climate adaptation not become yet another victim of Monsanto's corporate greed.  Just as India and developing countries have resisted dominance of a few large chemical drug companies dominating the drug supply so too do they need to prevent the dominance and control of these seed companies over the food supply.  

USAID claims this is part of it's "Feed the Future" strategy to help Nepal but it seems it is more about rewarding vested interests in America.  The Nepal government needs to reject such misplaced aid and stop CHEMONICS/FINTRAC and the NEAT program from doing this under the radar. These are companies that operate purely to profit from USAID that care little for the countries in which they operate or the damage they do.  In Nepal they hide behind anonymous project names so that they are not associated with the damage they do evading government regulation by the Social Welfare Council claiming to be mandated by vague bilateral agreements with little transparency in their operations.  It is time for the government, agricultural experts and civil society to pay more attention to the planned "support" from USAID when this is so clearly not intended to benefit Nepal but instead benefit American companies. 

64. KiranL
Hear hear, #53! Thanks for pointing out.

65. zed
Monsato used to make agent they are finding new ways to defoilate the planet....war criminals

66. Stephen Mikesell

It is interesting that foreign advisers come to Nepal with the claim that they will feed people so much better with their miraculous seeds than Nepal seed without any understanding of Nepal's agriculture or, if that agriculture is having problems, why it is having problems. But even anthropologists, who probably have the most intimate understanding of Nepal's farmers than anybody outside farmers themselves, still have much a very incomplete knowledge of the intricate details of the cultural-environmental interface of Nepal's agriculture.

USAID test plots are grown under ideal conditions with free financing and all the proper inputs and machinery provided in ample supply, so of course they are going to look good. But these test plots, which aim only at demonstrating that these seeds can produce a lot, don't ask any questions of what will happen when the rice seed is brought to the villages in real conditions.

What happens when farmers borrow money to finance purchases? We know that in India some 200,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide when the couldn't pay back the loans they took to purchase Monsanto products. Even in the United States, 100s of thousands of farmers have been losing their land due to foreclosure on their farms for decades now. Over the last century American agriculture has been characterized by depopulation of the land, from 70% of the population in agriculture at the end of the 19th century to 3% at the end of the twentieth. Currently a major proportion of American farms are owned by banks which engage contract farmers to do the farming. Emblematic of how farmers with no long-term interest in the land or local communities are ruining the land, an elderly retired farmer sitting in front of a store told me how the when he was young you could dig down to fresh water while now the water is murky and full of chemicals.

The first few years chemical fertilizer may seem to work well, but what happens to the land when you apply chemical nitrogen and imported minerals to it over the long term? Nepal's farmers' land rainwater currently creates acids from the composted manure which peculates gradually into the soil and creates mineral salts which is taken up by plants. Chemical fertilizers burn up the the organic matter too quickly allowing it to be washed out of the soil, leading to decreasing organic content and compaction of the soil. Thus the farmer has to buy more and more of the imported fertilizers to maintain poorer and poorer quality soil.

The first few years that you put pesticides on the plants you get more product than your neighbors, but gradually the herbivore insects gain resistance leading to more and more volume and potency of pesticides being put on the land. Meanwhile, natural populations of predator insects and chordates concentrate the pesticides in the food chain and decrease in numbers, leading to a collapse of the natural control mechanisms. The response is to apply more pesticides, which compounds the problem.

All these chemicals together kill the life in the soil which keeps it friable and productive. Plants work in complex and poorly understood relationships with billions of microbes in every gram of soil. The micro-root system of the plant, for example, is made up of filaments of fungi which live in mutually benefit relationship with the plant. Due to destruction of these relationships and loss of organic conversion of minerals in the soil, key micro nutrients are no longer taken up in chemical agriculture, leading plants to be more prone to insects and diseases, and yet more dependent on chemicals.

This of course is not seen as a problem for Monsanto, since the problems created by chemicals create demand for more chemicals, but it is problem for the agricultural communities and human populations experiencing higher rates of auto-immune diseases and cancers. Another business-making opportunity for Nepal is cancer hospitals, but this this probably is not seen as a problem for the policy makers who can afford using them or for markets . The farmers in the fields of course experience the greatest impact of agricultural chemical. A study of a valley in Mexico where chemical agriculture was introduced for the first time documented a shocking increase of cancers, auto-immune disease and increased childhood learning difficulties among the local population with the introduction of agricultural chemicals. A study of golf courses in New Jersey documented higher rates of leukemia and brain cancer among children of neighboring houses due to heavy use of agricultural chemicals required to maintain the the grass mono-crop. As the human mammary gland concentrates poisonous agricultural chemicals, it is no surprise that among women in the United States breast cancer reached epidemic proportions of one in eight women acquiring the disease.

From a simple matter of energetics, there is also also major problems with high-input agriculture. Peasant agriculture, interestingly enough, produces 7 or more kcal of energy for every kcal energy that the farmer puts into it with his and his animals' labor. This 6 kcal of energy profit is of course captured from the sun, just as all life has been doing nearly since its inception. Industrial agriculture, in contrast, requires 7 kcal energy to produce one kcal of food energy. This energy comes from petroleum, natural gas and coal. Peasant agriculture is able to produce excess energy because most of the services that industrial agriculture gets from chemicals and machines are provided gratis by nature or from the labor of the peasant family and community.

Furthermore, because the need to pay for the inputs requires the farmers to sell into the same centralized markets that produce the inputs, rather than nearby local markets, transport, storage, packaging and processing the food means that by the time it gets to the consumer's plate 1 kcal of food will represent 20 or more kcal of fossil fuel energy. This does not include all the social energy required to control these processes.

Evolution of life on earth, including human communities, has over the long run been all about most efficient use of energy. Any system that profligately uses such energy is eventually eliminated by natural and cultural selection. The energy debt of this system is reflected in a corresponding growing financial debt in countries and enterprises that have subscribed to it. Not only has the US's farming population essentially disappeared over the last half century as a result, most industrial type farms operate heavily in debt, meaning that agricultural production is operated according to the requirements of finance capital rather than those of local communities. The growing dictatorial dominance of Monsanto corporation over agriculture is the result.

In a world faced by increasing energy scarcity, a small country in Nepal that has neither the market nor military power to control energy nor economic power to leverage debts, the assumption of a system that requires large energy inputs portends certain slavery to financial institutions and social suicide. Development 'experts' often disparage peasants for their conservatism, but my sense is that much of the conservatism that is associated with peasants stems from a long-term view that respects the laws of thermodynamics, since they confront them every day in a very practical way.

If agriculture is going to feed the growing population, it will require getting the most from the smallest amount of land. This is not what industrial agriculture does. The heavy use of inputs it can get pretty high production from single crops, but such a measure is meaningless from the perspective of peasant agriculture. What anthropologists and agronomists who have studied peasant agriculture know is that peasant agricultural, when measured in terms of combined output per unit land, is generally far more productive than industrial agriculture, and it is even more productive when compare inputs versus outputs. It does this in the manner of nature by combining many different kinds of plants in interactive relationships called companion planting, as well as planting different species and varieties to take advantage of the complex local environmental conditions. For example, one Tai, Lao, or Hmong farmer on the southern border of China's Yunnan Province will cultivate as many as 15 different varieties of rice, each adapted to some local feature of the environment to make the most of local micro-environmental conditions and cultural values.

Even in the United States there is not a fully wholesale acceptance of these kinds of seeds and industrial farming as some of the comments assume. In fact, the only sector of farming in the United States that is actually growing is organic farming, at 20 percent a year.

The other farming which is growing is the "traditional" farming being done by religious groups such as Amish and Menonnites, who are moving into areas all over North America that are experiencing economic depression due to over-dependence on industrial methods. So large numbers of Amish, who eschew all forms of petroleum-driven agriculture and even electricity, and who live and work communally, have been moving into the wheat growing areas of Alberta, Canada, in such large numbers that the Alberta government has restricted them from taking two adjacent quarter-mile sections of land, just so the entire state doesn't turn Amish. The Amish are also spreading into Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota, among other places. Where other farmers are being forclosed by multinational banks, a show on NPR interviewed a local banker doing business with Amish who said in his 35 years of work not one Amish farmer has ever not paid a loan back, ones who do run into trouble are backed up by their community. In a reversal of finance capital's invasion into the countryside, Amish farmers by purchasing and using their communal labor rebuild condemned urban buildings are quietly become some of the largest urban landlords in cities such as Minneapolis. The Hutterites in turn are moving in northern Michigan, where they not only are reviving the farm economy but small towns as well.

There are many others who are setting up small communities of farmers who have turned away from industrial farming and rediscovering peasant-style mixed agriculture. My wife and I rode our tandem bike 150 km to a farm in western Wisconsin started by two of women who are raising mixed animal and crop farm; after ten years they feed from their own land a growing group of young and old people who've joined them, and they have a theater, classroom, run workshops, and rent out cottages. Unlike the wage economy, they turn no person or animal who comes to them away, but value each for his or her particular capability and treat the land in the same way.

A whole movement of small farmers has started called Community Supported Agriculture in which small organic farms are taking the lands of bankrupted farms around cities and towns to supply food to urban consumers on subscription basis, directly tying consumers and farmers together in a union of common interest. There are more than thirty such farms around Madison, Wisconsin, the largest feeding more than 600 families. Urban farms and community gardens are becoming ubiquitous in every city and town, and local farmers markets are growing in cities all across the United States. There are organizations such as Ecology Action in Northern California which has been working with more than two million farmers in Mexico and India, as well teaching farmers and gardeners in the United States, to use cultural and human-intensive methods in what they call bio-intensive techniques that emulate nature to grow as much food as possible on as small area as possible. After 35 years of research which have combined age-old peasant techniques with modern ecological research, they can feed one person on one thousand square feet of land while increasing the fertility of the soil using no chemicals. Even the president of the United States has established, against resistance of chemical companies such as Monsanto, an organic farm on the White House lawn which distributes food to communities in the area.

68. B2B
By golly, this Arthur and Soni the dunderheads!?!

69. American Farmer
Monsanto, Dupont, and Syngenta have worked hard to buy as much of the American non-GM seed industry as they could and removed most of the non-GM varieties from the market.   While crying 'Farmers need choice' they have tried (and largely suceded)  to take away the choice to not buy GM seeds from American farmers.  Don't be misled by comments of fools and industry shills that are being posted here.  GM seeds are not intended to feed people.  They were developed to make money and to exploit farmers.

70. Anti monsanto
These corporations are to be abolished not only from a particular place but the whole world. These are directly ruining the life of people as they provide all contaminated foods in the market.Lets form an anti monsanto group and kick off monsanto before coming to NEPAL.

71. Deep1

"On Friday this week [25th November] many citizens (Nepalis and non-Nepalis alike) have planned a protest to the proposed USAID-Monsanto company tie up, made public on September 12 this year, to promote several of the latter's hybrid corn seeds among 20,000 farmers of Chitwan, Nawalparasi and Kavre districts. ...

People who  are protesting in front of USAID office in Maharajgunj should ask it not only to stop making secret deals with Monsanto, but also to seek advice from many others who are involved in creating ecologically sound, small-scale, highly productive, economically profitable and highly bio-diverse farming practices."


72. Nepali worred about MONSANTO EVIL
anybody who think Monsanto is good for the agriculture or any GMO crop is good at all should pull their head out of their ass and learn how to google and youtube. Just google some documentaries about Monsanto in google or youtube. Watch a few and if you still think Monsanto or any GMO crop is good you are evil and lack a soul. n

MONSANTO is EVIL. It ruins farmers lives by prohibiting farmers to even use their own seeds and forcing them to buy only Monsanto fertilizers by genetically modifying their seeds which the farmer must buy. If anybody does not buy their they sue the hell out of the person and bury them in legal debt even before the case is decided. Other farmers will then just oblige and keep on buying monsanto seeds out of fear of going bankrup while fighting agaist the evil MONSANTO. EVIL EVIL EVIL MONSANTO is EVIL. 

Everybody who is against MONSANTO should write EVIL in the same paragraph so that when anybody seraches for MONSANTO, EVIL should be the first keyword that shows up. This is hopefully intiigue to google more. 

73. Rolf Schmelzer
No Nepali farmer should allow Monsanto to spoil their natural way of farming. Hybrid farming is a crime against nature and mankind and it distroys - on purpose - natural biodiversity. It DISABLES a natural SEED to grow - on purpose. Unbelievable! The Nepali government should urgently train the farmers to deeply mistrust Monsanto and the farmers themselves organize mass protest against this poor USAID initiative. It is not AID. Rolf Schmelzer, Kathmandu

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)