Saturday, June 06, 2009

More on Genetically Modified Cotton Seeds

More on Genetically Modified (GM) cotton, seems I am obsessed with the subject ever since I wrote about it many moons ago. Lest my dwindling number of readers accuse me of not showing evidence of the link between farmer suicides and GM cotton seeds which I had written about in this article and this article,here's an eyeopener, a gem of an article by eminent campaigner for the cause of farmers Vandana Shiva about the definite link between GM cotton and farmer suicides not only in Vidarbha district of Maharashtra but in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh.

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Sterility of seed on a large scale is already a reality for Indian peasants, who have been persuaded to give up their own seeds and buy costly corporate seeds through high profile advertising. With the promise of riches, the corporations are pushing them into debt. Now farmers are killing themselves. Indian farmers have maintained a reliable and diverse seed supply over millennia. Today the foundation of this sustainable and secure agriculture is threatened as global chemical corporations invade the countryside, replacing agricultural diversity with vulnerable monocultures of hybrids and genetically engineered seeds that need more pesticides and herbicides. The justification for opening up the seed sector to multinationals has been the supply of better seeds, and hence higher incomes for farmers. But corporate seed is failing frequently, so pushing farmers into debt. In 1998 thousands of Indian farmers committed suicide due to indebtedness linked to poorly-performing new hybrid seeds. In the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh the shift has been very rapid, converting the area from a mixed farming system based on millets, pulses and oilseeds to a monoculture of hybrid cotton. The failure of this cotton seed led to 500 suicides last year in one district alone. Thirteen more have been reported this year. These failures are not restricted to the cotton growing areas of Andhra Pradesh alone, but have been experienced in all regions with commercially grown and chemically farmed crops.

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Where does India stand in this controversy? Will it be a mute witness the loss of gene diversity taken for granted by our "kisans" or would we have to be subject to the new imperialism of the genetic mafia?

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