ASHA, Civil society representatives & Scientists write to Business Standard on advertorial by pesticide industry NGO on 29/7/2020

Date 3rd August, 2020



Mr. T. N. Ninan,

Chairperson, Board of Directors,

Business Standard Pvt. Ltd.




Editorial Lead,

Business Standard Pvt. Ltd.



Re: The disgraceful advertorial published in the Business Standard on 29/7/2020 


We strongly condemn the disgraceful and slanderous full-page advertorial published in your newspaper on 29/7/2020 (Page 11) sponsored by Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), which is the pesticide industry’s lobbying group.


We are outraged that Business Standard chose to publish such malicious and scurrilous personal attacks against a range of individuals under the garb of an “advertorial”. It is very clear that its publication does not meet your newspaper’s code of conduct nor the code or standards of ASCI or PCI, regarding content, and completely negates the high ethical code that the newspaper likes to take credit for. The small paragraph published the next day which says, “Business Standard regrets the publication of the allegations and dissociates itself from them,” is a highly insufficient response for the full-page advertorial.  It even appears to be a pre-planned strategy.


We place on record the following points before your newspaper and before the public so that we counter to some degree the malicious advertorial by CCFI, which would have paid lakhs of rupees to Business Standard.


  1.  The advertorial is an unethical, dishonest and misleading attack by the pesticide industry body that maligns a wide range of individuals and institutions – all chosen for their common ‘crime’ of having worked to study and educate society and policy makers about the harmful effects of pesticides. This is reminiscent of the vicious attacks used by the tobacco industry when the harmful effects of tobacco were exposed. Those attacked in the advertorial include widely respected social and environmental activists like Kavitha Kuruganti, Sunita Narain and Umendra Dutt, as well as scientists and doctors from a range of eminent institutions such as IIT Kanpur, National Institute of Nutrition, JNU, Public Health Foundation of India, and several state universities.


Many of us are votaries of ecological agriculture, an environment free of pollution and better practice of science and research in the interest of consumers, farmers, farm workers and the environment. Through this advertorial, a large community of solution-bearers are under attack.


  1. Business Standard cannot escape responsibility and culpability for this libelous and irresponsible attack, which went to the extent of publishing unauthorized pictures of two persons, both women, while maligning their integrity. The newspaper shouldgive equal space to those attacked to place their rejoinder. The newspaper should stop publishing such advertorials which give license to wealthy companies or individuals to spread misinformation and mislead the readers by appearing like news.


  1. We, the members of civil society and academia, stand with Kavitha Kuruganti and the other activists and academics, whose names and work have been unfairly tarnished. We have known Kavitha Kuruganti for many years and she is well regarded across India for her outstanding work with farmers and sustainable agriculture for the past 25 years. It defies reason that the advertorial claims she is working to malign Indian agriculture while in reality, she is a person who has provided her energy and leadership to farmers’ movements across the country, and has worked for the welfare of the most disadvantaged sections of the farming community including women farmers, adivasis, dryland farmers and tenant farmers. She has also been a member of several government committees. Kavitha is primarily associated with Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) which is a nationwide network, not a registered NGO, and her living doesn’t come fromany foreign funds.


  1. The allegation that all the studies that are critical of the impact of pesticides are driven by foreign donors to undermine agriculture is preposterous. This shows the level of intolerance from the pesticide industry to accept critical scientific studies. CCFI is implying that there is a huge conspiracy cutting across social activists and scientists at the best academic institutions to malign pesticides – whereas the simple fact is that India and the entire world have become highly concerned about toxins in our environment, food and water systems. Even the Prime Minister of India has spoken on Independence Day about Mother Earth being poisoned by pesticides.


  1. While the advertorial seems most concerned about agriculture exports, the fact is that our exports are being rejected not because of Indian studies but because of actual pesticide residues being found.In fact, our trade security has been compromised in numerous instances due to pesticide residues in export consignments and consequent rejections. More importantly, most of India’s agricultural produce is consumed in India. The concern of environmental activists is about the health of Indian consumers, agricultural workers and farmers who are vulnerable to pesticide toxicity, and about the long-term productivity and sustainability of Indian farms.


  1. The advertorial contains several false statements such as claiming half-truths about Indonesia’spesticide ban, and the cancer incidence in Punjab being one of the lowest in India. It also makes meaningless allegations such as the one about obtaining a copy of a Bill before it is placed in the Parliament. There is no wrong-doing in an M.P. sharing contents of a Bill with civil society groups, and it is in the interests of democracy that all Bills should be widely shared and debated, and inputs provided to the Parliament before the Bill is passed.

We, the undersigned, demand that Business Standard should

  • Print the rebuttalby the people named and maligned in the advertorial, giving equal space and prominence
  • Make public and review the paper’s policy on advertorial content and approval
  • Contribute the revenue from the advertorial towards public good such as pesticide-free farming
  • Ensure that the website has “Retracted with Apology” boldly printed and super imposed on the original advertorial with a link to the responses from the people named in the advertorial.

Yours sincerely,

1)            Abha Bhaiya, Women’s Rights Activist

2)           Adv. Sivakumar, NallaUnavu, Chennai

3)           Agrani Social Foundation Vita, Sangli, Maharashtra

4)           Alex Jensen, Local Futures

5)           Alwyn D’Souza, Indian Social Institute, Bengaluru- Karnataka

6)           Anand Mazagaonkar, Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal

7)           Anand Yagnik, Advocate, Gujarat Khedoot Samaj, Ahmedabad

8)           Ananthoo, Safe Food Alliance, Chennai

9)           Anshuman Das, Kolkata

10)       Apoorva Oza, Agakhan Rural Support Programme, Ahmedabad

11)        Arun Dike, Chairman Rangwasa Jaivik Gram Sanstha

12)       Aruna Rodrigues, Sunray Harvesters, Mhow, Madhya Pradesh

13)       Ashalatha, Mahila Raitula Hakkula Vedika

14)       Ashish Gupta – Trustee – Gram Disha Trust

15)        Asokakumar V, Secretary, Kerala Jaiva Karshaka Samithi

16)       Avik Saha, National Convenor, Jai Kisan Andolan

17)        Avil Borkar, Gramin Yuva Pragatik Mandal, Bhandara, Maharashtra

18)       Badribhai Joshi, Shantigram Nirman Mandal, Tanachha, Dist. Bharuch

19)        Balaji Shankar, TharchaarbuIyakkam, Tamil Nadu

20)      Balakrishnan S

21)       Berenice da Gama Rose, Bengaluru

22)      Bhagya Laxmi, RRA Network

23)      Bibhu Prasad Nayak, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad

24)      Bindu Mohanty, Auroville, Tamil Nadu, RRAN

25)       BIRSA, Chaibasa, Jharkhand

26)      Bittu Sahgal, Mumbai, Sanctuary Nature Foundation

27)       C. Bhanuja, Rythu Swarajya Vedika

28)      Cara Tejpal, Mumbai, Sanctuary Nature Foundation

29)      Charul Bharawada, Loknaad, Ahmedabad

30)      Chinu Shrinivasan, Shishumilap, Vadodara

31)       Chithra Viswanathan, Chennai

32)      CJ Pinto, Mumbai

33)      Deepika Joshi, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Chhattisgarh

34)      Devesh Patel, Madhya Gujarat Sajiv Kheti Mandal

35)       Dhamodaran, Vizhuthugal, Chennai

36)      Dilnavaz Variava, The Sahayak Trust, Mumbai

37)       Dr Amar Singh Azad, MBBS, MD., Director, Holistic Health Action Group

38)      Dr Anamik Shah, Vice Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapeeth

39)      Dr Asad R. Rahmani, PhD (Former Director, Bombay Natural History Society); Scientific Adviser, The Corbett Foundation, and Hem Chand Mahindra Foundation; Governing Board member: Wetlands International South Asia, New Delhi;  Governing Board member:  Bombay Natural History Society; Natural History Adviser: Saevus magazine, and RoundGlass Well Being Portal

40)      Dr Ashish Mital, National Secretary, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha

41)       Dr Bharat Shah, Director, Nature Cure Centre, Gotri, Vadodara

42)      Dr Bijukumar, Prof and Head, Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, Trivandrum

43)      Dr Claude Alvares, Goa Foundation, Goa

44)      Dr G P I Singh, Vice Chancellor, Adesh University, Bathinda.

45)       Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad

46)      Dr Indira Devi (Retd) Director of Research, Kerala Agriculture University

47)       Dr Kanubhai Kalasariya, Sadbhavana Trust, Mahuva, Dist. Bhavanagar

48)      Dr KS Varaprasad, Former Director of the Regional Station of NBPGR

49)      Dr Minoo Parabiya, Former Professor and Head, Dept. of Bioscience, Veer Narmad University, Surat

50)      Dr Mira Shiva  -Public health Physician

51)        Dr N. N. Panicker, Sahajivan Swaraj

52)       Dr Nandita Shah, Sharan, Auroville, Tamil Nadu

53)        Dr Ponnammal Natarajan, Retd Dean, Anna University

54)       Dr Rajinder Chaudhary, Former Professor, Department of Economics, M. D. University, Rohtak (Haryana) & Advisor, KudartiKhetiAbhiyan, Haryana

55)       Dr Sabyasachi Das, Hyderabad, RRA Network

56)       Dr Sudarshan Iyengar, Former Vice Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad

57)       Dr SuhasKolhekar, Pune

58)      Dr Sultan Ahmed Ismail, Soil Biologist & Ecologist, Ecoscience Research Foundation

59)       Dr Sunilam, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti

60)      Dr Sunita Sheel Bandewar, Founding Trustee, Vidhayak Trust, Pune

61)       Dr Uma Shankari, Rashtriya Rythu Seva Samiti

62)      Dr V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women & Rythu Swarajya Vedika

63)      Dr Vandana Prasad, Public Health Professional

64)      Dr VS Vijayan, Chairman, Salim Ali Foundation

65)       Gijs Spoor, Pondicherry, Agronomist

66)      Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), New Delhi

67)       Gopi Deva, Organic Farmers Market, Chennai

68)      GR Vora, Mumbai

69)      Himakiran, Thondaimandalam Foundation, Chennai

70)      Jagannathan, Nallakeerai, Thiuvellore

71)        Jagdeesh Patel, People’s Training and Research Institute, Vadodara

72)       Jayesh Joshi, Vaagdhara, Rajasthan

73)       Jiya Mukti Manav Seva Sansthan, Latur

74)       K Jagadeesan, Advisor, Federation of Tamil Nadu Rice Mill Owners Association

75)       K Ramnarayan, Educator, Uttarakhand, India

76)       K V Biju, All India Organising Secretary, SwadeshiAndolan

77)       K.P. Illiyas, President, Organic Farming Association of India

78)      Kamayani Bali, Mahabal Jan SwasthyaAbhiyan Mumbai

79)       Kapil Shah, Jatan- A Mission for Organic Farming, Gotri, Vadodara

80)      Karpagam, Organic Farmer, Point Return, Maduranthagam, Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu

81)       Karthik Gunasekar

82)      Karuna Futane, Gram Sewa Mandal

83)      Kavitha Srinivasan, MAKAAM- Karnataka

84)      Kirankumar Vissa, Rythu Swarajya Vedika

85)      Mahendra Bhatt, Sarvodaya Worker, Prayas, Mangrol, Dist. Narmada

86)      Manab Chakraborty, Partners in Prosperity, New Delhi

87)      Manshi Asher, Himdhara Collective

88)     Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan

89)      Medha Shah, Weaver Bird- Organic Cotton Initiative, Ahmedabad

90)      Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements

91)       Nachiket Patwardhan

92)      Nachiket Udupa, Delhi

93)      Neeta Deshpande, Bengaluru, Independent Writer

94)      Nisha Raghu, Organic farmers, Coimbatore

95)       Norma Alvares, Advocate, Goa

96)      P. Chenniah, National Agricultural Workers Forum-NAWF; National Center for Labour- NCL

97)       P.S.Ajay Kumar, All India Agricultural & Rural Labourers Association

98)      Padmashri Kartikeya Sarabhai, Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad

99)      Pamayan, Thaalanmai Uzhavar Iyak am

100)  Pandurang Hegde, Chipko/Appiko  Movement, Sirsi, Karnataka

101)   Parthasarathy, Thiruvallur Organic Farmers Group, Pandeswaram, Tamil Nadu

102)  Partik Kumar, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, RRA Network

103)  Pervin Jehangir, Mumbai

104)  Ponnuthai  Sappani, Kalanjium Women Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu

105)   Prabhatsharan (Journalist) Mumbai

106)  PrabhaYadav, Dr. Ambedkar Ageti Vikas Va Aanshodahn Sanstha, Satara, Maharashtra

107)   Pranoti Gramin Vikas Sansatha President : Mahesh PrabhakarGulhane

108)  Praveen Singh, Varanasi

109)  Prof Duraisingam , Chairman , CREATE, Tamilnadu

110)   Prof. Hemant Shah, Economist. Gujarat

111)     Prof.  Amita Shah, Hon.  Fellow , CfDA,  Ahmedabad

112)    Pushpa Singh, Assistant Professor, Miranda House, University of Delhi

113)    Radha Holla, Concerned Citizen

114)    Radhika Rammohan,  Director, Restore Health Livelihoods and Nature, Chennai

115)    Raja Sankar,  Sriram Foods, Divansapudur, Pollachi, Comibatore, Tamil Nadu

116)    Rajani Dave, Human Technology Forum, Guajrat

117)    Rajasree V V, Thrissur,  Kerala

118)   Ramasubramanian, Chennai, Samanvaya Consulting / Sustainable Livelihood Institute

119)    Ramesh, Satvik : Promoting Ecological Agriculture, Bhuj

120)  Rashmibhai Shah, Industrialist, Himalaya Machinery, Vadodara

121)    Ravi Kanneganti, Telangana Rythu JAC

122)   Reggie Dias, Mumbai

123)   Richa Audichya, Rajasthan

124)   Rohit Jain, Udaipur, Banyan Roots, The Organic Farming Association of India

125)   Rohit Prajapati, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara

126)   RohitParakh, ASHA-Youth

127)   S Santhi, Freelance Ecologist and Nature Educator, Thiruvananthapuram

128)  S Thilak Raj, Managing Trustee, SevaiKarangal, Tamil Nadu

129)   Samar Bagchi, Kolkata

130)  Sandeep Pandey, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, Social Activist, Lucknow

131)    Sandeep Virmani, Develoment Professional, Bhuj

132)   Sangeetha Sriram, AEVS, Auroville, Tamil Nadu

133)   Sarala Panicker, Agricultural Entomologist

134)   Sarvadaman Patel, President, Biodynamik Association of India, Anand

135)   Seema Ravandale, People’s Science Institute,Dehradun

136)   Sejal Dand, Anna SurakshaAbhiyan, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

137)   Shailesh Vyas, Organic Farming Expert, Bhuj

138)  Sheelu Francis, Womens Collective, Tamil Nadu

139)   Shhravasti Bahudheshiya Sanstha , Kolhapur, Maharashtra

140)  Shilpa Vasavada, WGWLO, Ahmedabad

141)    Shripal Shah, ASAL Organic Store, Ahmedabad

142)   Shruti Shah, Vadodara, Freelance Researcher, Resource person and Documentor (Ecosystem Services, Ethnobotany, Traditional knowledge)

143)    Shuba Bharadwaj,  MahatmajiSevaSangam, Tamil Nadu

144)   Sreedevi, Bio Basics, Coimbatore

145)   Sreeja Kappiyur, Organic Farmer and Theatre Activist, Arangottukara, Thrissur, Kerala

146)   Sridhar R, Save Our Rice Campaign

147)   Srujan, Yavatmal, Maharashtra (RanjitTodsam, Sangeeta Aatram)

148)  Suma Josson, film maker (Pune)

149)   Suresh Kumar Siwach, Organic Farmer, Haryana

150)   Suryoday Bahudheshiya Sanstha, Amravati

151)    Sushma Iyengar, Development Professional, Bhuj

152)   Swati Desai, Editor, Bhoomiputra

153)   T Ramakrishnan, Sathyamangalam, Tamil Nadu

154)   Uma Shankari, Farmer,  VilVenkatramapuram, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh

155)    Umendra Dutt, Executive Director, KhetiVirasat Mission

156)   Usha S, Thanal, Trivandrum

157)    V Arun, The forest way, Tamil Nadu

158)   Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao, Former Agri Minister(AP), Former MP (LS)

159)   Vasant Futane, Beejotsav Group, Nagpur

160)  Vidyadhar Date, Journalist, Mumbai

161)    Vikas Sahayog Pratishathan , Mumbai (Mr. Mohan Surve)

162)   Vikramjit Singh, Mohali, Punjab

163)   Vinay Mahajan, Loknaad, Ahmedabad

164)   Yogendra Yadav, President, Swaraj India


An official response from ASHA to all allegation made on Ms. Kavitha Kuruganti can be accessed at https://kisanswaraj.in/2020/08/03/response-to-allegations-made-against-ms-kavitha-kuruganti-in-ccfis-advertorial/


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