The Farmer Suicide Belt of India
Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India and Monsanto
Farmers in India have been committing suicide in unprecedented numbers. 1 every 30 minutes.
We're talking small farmers who hold from 7 to 12 acres of land. Social pressures like raising money for weddings and for education for children cause many to sell off land to pay for them or to make loans they cannot repay when crops fail. This is probably not good for the financial health of the family or their daughters'. Add to that many families are left destitute, landless, homeless.
VANDANA SHIVA: (interviewed in 2006) Indian farmers have never committed suicide on a large scale. It’s something totally new. It’s linked to the last decade of globalization, trade liberalization under a corporate-driven economy. The seed sector was liberalized to allow corporations like Cargill and Monsanto to sell unregulated, untested seed. They began with hybrids, which can’t be saved, and moved on to genetically engineered Bt cotton.
The cotton belt is where the suicides are taking place on a very, very large scale. It is the suicide belt of India. And the high cost of seed is linked to high cost of chemicals, because these seeds need chemicals. In addition, these costly seeds need to be bought every year, because their very design is to make seeds nonrenewable, seed that isn’t renewable by its very nature, but whether it’s through patenting systems, intellectual property rights or technologically through hybridization, nonrenewable seed is being sold to farmers so they must buy every year.
There’s a case going on in the Supreme Court of India right now on the monopoly practices of Monsanto. An antitrust court ruled against Monsanto, because the price is so high, farmers necessarily get into a debt trap, which is why I was talking about credit, for the wrong thing, could actually be a problem and not a solution.
In addition, the price of cotton is collapsing under the huge $4 billion subsidies given to agribusiness in the United States, which then dumps cotton on a world market with 50% reduction of price artificially. This is what led to the Cancun failure of WTO, but this is what is killing Indian farmers.
Just three days ago, farmers were protesting against the low prices of cotton. They went to the government agency, which before globalization used to buy cotton at a fair price. One farmer was shot dead. So we’re not just seeing suicides, we’re also seeing farmers’ protests treated as a new threat to the regime.
Genetic modification based on an obsolete theory and hence ineffective and dangerous
Genetic engineered seed
- genetic engineering in the laboratory is crude, imprecise and invasive.
- GM seeds also contain “suicide genes” that render the seeds from this year’s crop useless
- farmers are forced to buy the patented seeds, pesticide and fertilizer again and again, every year.
- Bt resistant pests and Roundup tolerant superweeds are on the rise, rendering the two major GM crop traits useless
- Crop contamination and volunteers, bringing lawsuits from Monsanto spies,
- GM crops cross-pollinate neighboring fields,
- Volunteers in fields never planted with GM seed can spring up up to six years later.
- Herbicide resistant GM volunteers hard to eradicate.
- Monsanto is the only company that charges a $15/acre fee for HT canola.
- Crop increase potential exaggerated, even losses up to 40% have been recorded.
- Wildlife harmed, including insects, particularly honeybees.
Then, Walmart comes along and puts the small farmer markets out of business, an essential source of income for many in India.
Dr Vandana Shiva, physicist, eco-feminist, author, activist, has founded Seeds of Freedom and Naranya, with organic seed banks, in efforts to save over 56 species (under threat in India) of flower, fruits, grains, vegetables, and other cash crops from the dangers and eradication by GM seed crops and their products.
There's lots more on NP, some very scary and outrageous.
Some of the laws granting these seed companies powers beyond even a normal government are insidious. I don't think many of the farmers in India actually understand this.
Powerful seed companies often impose onerous conditions on growers, including a prohibition on saving seeds from current crops for future use. Growers must grant access to seed companies to their land at any time to enable the seed companies to test for unauthorized planting of GE crops.
Farmers must agree to punitive measures and fees for contract violations, and agree in advance to mandatory arbitration of disputes and mandatory jurisdiction in courts far from home.