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Indian farmers target Monsanto

(Thursday, Sept. 11, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Habib Beary, BBC news online: Angry farmers in southern India have stormed a building that formerly housed the global biotech giant, Monsanto.

More than 40 farmers ransacked the corporation's former Bangalore facility on Thursday, after staging noisy demonstrations.

They were protesting after more than 70 farmers committed suicide in the region in the last three months.

Their deaths are being blamed on debt and drought - and on the introduction of Monsanto's genetically modified crops.

According to eyewitnesses, the farmers went on the rampage in a former Monsanto research centre, located in India's top science facility, the Indian Institute of Science.

They damaged furniture and windows, and shouted slogans demanding Monsanto close down its operations in India.

Monsanto is active in several southern Indian states, where it has angered environmentalists and farmers by spearheading the cultivation of genetically modified cotton.

The police arrested 15 farmers after Thursday's incident.

They said Monsanto had shifted its research facility recently, but the protesters were probably not aware of this.

A leader of the Karnataka State Farmers Association, Professor MD Nanjundaswamy, told the BBC the attack was a warning to Monsanto to leave India.

The farmer's association had also torched several farms in the state where Monsanto's new cotton crop was being trialled.

The environmental group, Greenpeace, has joined protests against Monsanto by calling on the company to withdraw its seeds from the market.

Monsanto says its critics have been misinformed, and its experiments in genetically modified farming have been successful in the US, China and other countries.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3099938.stm