Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) on Wednesday alleged that global seeds major Monsanto was secretly running a signature campaign in rural Gujarat, where it is asking farmers to sign a letter to Prime Minister favouring introduction of genetically modified (GM) food crops.
The apex body of farmers further alleged the US-based firm had hired local youth in villages who get farmers to sign the letter. It asked the Gujarat Government to ban Monsanto for indulging in "anti-farmer" activities.
Monsanto has denied charges levelled by BKS.
"This (alleged Monsanto campaign) is a serious issue which demands immediate attention. Monsanto is discreetly conspiring to get the GM food crop introduced in the country by falsely showing that the farmers are in favour of it," BKS Gujarat unit President Magan Patel told reporters here.
"We have come to know that Monsanto has hired local educated youths for Rs 15,000 per month who were asking farmers in Gujarat to sign the letter favouring GM food crops," he alleged.
The firm was misleading farmers by giving incorrect information on GM rice, maize and wheat crops, Patel said.
The BKS leader distributed copies of what he claimed was the letter that the company was getting signed by farmers in a village of Sabarkantha district.
"We believe this campaign is not only restricted to Gujarat. Such an activity may be going on in other parts of the country also," Patel alleged.
"We want to caution the farmers of the state against these activities of Monsanto. We request the Government to ban the company from Gujarat for indulging in anti-farmer activities," he said.
The issue will be discussed at the upcoming executive body meeting of BKS and a decision will be taken to launch a mass campaign against the company, Patel said.
When contacted, Monsanto refuted all allegations, calling them "false and baseless".
"We are not aware of any such signature campaign. We believe Indian farmers are progressive and value technologies that enhance their incomes and well-being," a company spokesperson said in a statement.
"It appears that Bharatiya Kisan Sangh has been misinformed and ought to immediately withdraw the allegations in order to not to harm the interests of farmers and consumers seeking to benefit from technology," the statement added.