March 31, 2009

covering up the cause of farmer's despair

"Most suicide cases relate to those farming families which have run up huge debts because of the high cost in using the expensive genetically-modified cotton seeds, which have to be bought every year."
Times of India, All in a Day

This is the type of quote you see in the Indian press very frequently, the suicides of farmers and the attribution of debt related to GMOs as the cause of this despair.

In a report commissioned by Monsanto and others in the biotech industry (the latter of which is getting thin because Monsanto is buying them up) this causal link is debunked.

But according to Dr. Vandana Shiva in, Toxic Genes and Toxic Papers : IFPRI covering up the link between Bt. Cotton and Farmers Suicides (PDF) the methodology, review and processes are false. It is pseudo-science spun to distract. This is not surprising.

When you hear the argument that Indian farmers just need access to more loans, more indebtedness and therein lies the cause of farmer despair, it would be good to sift through the Indian press on it and read Dr Shiva.

"There are similar “toxic papers” being generated in the defense of GM crops,
especially Bt. Cotton. Like the toxic papers of Wall Street they have no grounding
in reality. They assume false number crunching can be a substitute for truth. And
they are deadly for food and agriculture security, and farmers livelihoods.
A recent paper from IFPRI “Bt Cotton and Farmers Suicides in India” falls in this
category of a doubly toxic paper because it covers up the risks of toxic genes
and is detached from reality. Yet it is aimed at shaping public opinion about GM
crops by using every trick in the trade to separate the impact of GM crops on
farmers from the seed monopoly and the technology of producing nonrenewable,
toxic seeds through genetic engineering".

Follow the link above for the complete article.


Patrick said...

The situation with farmers in India is so incredibly distressing. The paper Monsanto et al wrote seems to have in part accomplished it's intended purpose, and has distracted attention from the problem.

I think the only thing we can do is keep writing about it, and hope something is done eventually.

In the meantime, clothing made from organic cotton and hemp are slowly growing in popularity, in Europe at least.

anne said...

Yes, good point Patrick: support the alternative and keep digging for truth. In India there is a real move toward farming organic cotton. Here is a great article