Worms and Flowers

Farmer Suicides Blamed on High Cost of Hybrid Seed

Posted in Current Events/History by Lzyjo on December 24, 2008

Often times I read content from foreign-based news sources to avoid the stagnant entertainment stories spewed out by the U.S. media. One of the websites I read regularly is the Times of India. They have a wonderful section entirely dedicated to the environment. I have read numerous graphic articles of farmers who committed suicide by drinking pesticides and chemicals. The issue is so big that The New York Times and NPR have covered it. Wikipedia has an article entitled, Farmers’ suicides in India and PBS Frontline has broadcast a story called, the Seeds of Suicide.

In one region of India, in 2007, nearly one hundred farmers committed suicide every month. Some estimates say more than 25,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1997. Nearly every article stresses that the cause is largely due to the high costs of genetically modified Bt, bacillus thuringiensis, cotton crops sold by Monsanto.

The Deccan Development Society, an India coalition for diversity, issued a press release in May of this year, entitled “Another Year of Doom, Bt Cotton in Andhra Pradesh.” The conclusion of the report is glaring. Annual returns on Bt cotton crops are 10% below non-bt crops. The Bt cotton is meant to control the Bollworm, but farmers are experiencing devastation from aphids and thrips and an increased presence of mealy bugs, which have not plagued crops in years, are now requiring costly pesticides and insecticides. Besides the ugly fact that farmers are indebted to Monsanto and Syngenta, officials somewhere along the line have been obscuring the fact the the crops are deadly. Cotton pickers have also reported adverse reactions, including rashes and bronchial and pulmonary disorders. Sheep feed Bt cotton died only a month after the study commenced and at least 12 buffalo have died after grazing on the genetically modified stalks.
The report finishes by stating that the government has been ignoring independent studies of genetically modified crops. So, we should not be expecting a change in genetically modified crop policy until our policy makers are not under the control of the biotechnology industry.

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