Monsanto's former managing director of India operations is talking, and it's not pretty for the behemoth of genetic modification. Tiruvadi Jagadisan is accusing his former employer of faking scientific data with the intent of evading the government's regulatory requirements.
The 84 year-old Jagadisan is quoted as saying, "I retired from the company as I felt the management of Monsanto, USA, was exploiting our country." Jagadisan had been with Monsanto for almost 20 years.
Jagadisan claims Monsanto had willing enablers within India's regulatory machine who Monsanto appeared eager to access.
...the company "used to fake scientific data" submitted to government regulatory agencies to get commercial approvals for its products in India.
The former Monsanto boss said government regulatory agencies with which the company used to deal with in the 1980s simply depended on data supplied by the company while giving approvals to herbicides.
"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.
Incredibly, Monsanto's response to the allegation appears to put the blame squarely on the Indian regulatory system for accepting the bogus data.
Asked to comment on Jagadisan's allegations, a Monsanto spokesperson said: "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".
It appears that Jagadasian's accusation has contributed to a decision that hits Monsanto where it hurts most.
The Indian Government has banned the growing of genetically manipulated (GM) eggplant. The ban will remain until independent scientific studies satisfy the public and experts that the crop has no long term negative impacts on human health and the environment.
"This is a stunning victory for India's precautionary approach to GM crops," says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps.
"Influencing the Indian decision was the whistle-blown by Tiruvadi Jagadisan, a former Monsanto Director, who publicly disclosed that the company had faked scientific data to gain regulatory approvals.
Based on past history, what the Indian Government actually does with the independent scientific studies bears watching.