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The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it's even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father's body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.

As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India's economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low. 

Indian farmer

Human tragedy: A farmer and child in India's 'suicide belt'

Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.

Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years' earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out. 

There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on - they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless - as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting. 

Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end. 

As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. 'He was a loving and caring man,' she said, weeping quietly.

'But he couldn't take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.' 

Shankara's crop had failed - twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India's ancient story.

But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops. 

Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Prince Charles

Distressed: Prince Charles has set up charity Bhumi Vardaan Foundation to address the plight of suicide farmers

Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts - and no income.

So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.

The crisis, branded the 'GM Genocide' by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a 'global moral question' - and the time had come to end its unstoppable march. 

Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning 'the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming... from the failure of many GM crop varieties'. 

Ranged against the Prince are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.

The rest of the world, they insist, should embrace 'the future' and follow suit. 

So who is telling the truth? To find out, I travelled to the 'suicide belt' in Maharashtra state.

What I found was deeply disturbing - and has profound implications for countries, including Britain, debating whether to allow the planting of seeds manipulated by scientists to circumvent the laws of nature. 

For official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here each month.

Simple, rural people, they are dying slow, agonising deaths. Most swallow insecticide - a pricey substance they were promised they would not need when they were coerced into growing expensive GM crops. 

It seems that many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.

Pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and 'agrarian distress' that is the real reason for the horrific toll. 

But, as I discovered during a four-day journey through the epicentre of the disaster, that is not the full story.

Monsanto

Death seeds: A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a Monsanto research soybean field near Atlantic, Iowa

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands - only to kill themselves as well. 

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed - two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.

She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. 'He cries when he thinks of his mother,' said the dead woman's aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.

Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.

The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds. 

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were 'magic seeds' - with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects. 

Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks. 

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations. 

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution. 

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers' lives have slid back into the dark ages. 

Though areas of India planted with GM seeds have doubled in two years - up to 17 million acres - many famers have found there is a terrible price to be paid.

Far from being 'magic seeds', GM pest-proof 'breeds' of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite. 

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.

With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off. 

Having taken loans from traditional money lenders at extortionate rates, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have faced losing their land as the expensive seeds fail, while those who could struggle on faced a fresh crisis. 

When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.

But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That's because GM seeds contain so- called 'terminator technology', meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own. 

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death. 

Take the case of Suresh Bhalasa, another farmer who was cremated this week, leaving a wife and two children. 

As night fell after the ceremony, and neighbours squatted outside while sacred cows were brought in from the fields, his family had no doubt that their troubles stemmed from the moment they were encouraged to buy BT Cotton, a geneticallymodified plant created by Monsanto. 

'We are ruined now,' said the dead man's 38-year-old wife. 'We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.' 

Villagers bundled him into a rickshaw and headed to hospital along rutted farm roads. 'He cried out that he had taken the insecticide and he was sorry,' she said, as her family and neighbours crowded into her home to pay their respects. 'He was dead by the time they got to hospital.' 

Asked if the dead man was a 'drunkard' or suffered from other 'social problems', as alleged by pro-GM officials, the quiet, dignified gathering erupted in anger. 'No! No!' one of the dead man's brothers exclaimed. 'Suresh was a good man. He sent his children to school and paid his taxes. 

'He was strangled by these magic seeds. They sell us the seeds, saying they will not need expensive pesticides but they do. We have to buy the same seeds from the same company every year. It is killing us. Please tell the world what is happening here.' 

Monsanto has admitted that soaring debt was a 'factor in this tragedy'. But pointing out that cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as 'untimely rain' or drought, and pointed out that suicides have always been part of rural Indian life. 

Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds  -  no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics. 

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three 'independent' surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive - and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.

(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is 'only double' the price of 'official' non-GM seed - but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by 'unscrupulous' merchants, who often also sell 'fake' GM seeds which are prone to disease.) 

With rumours of imminent government compensation to stem the wave of deaths, many farmers said they were desperate for any form of assistance. 'We just want to escape from our problems,' one said. 'We just want help to stop any more of us dying.'

Prince Charles is so distressed by the plight of the suicide farmers that he is setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM. 

India's farmers are also starting to fight back. As well as taking GM seed distributors hostage and staging mass protests, one state government is taking legal action against Monsanto for the exorbitant costs of GM seeds. 

This came too late for Shankara Mandauker, who was 80,000 rupees (about £1,000) in debt when he took his own life. 'I told him that we can survive,' his widow said, her children still by her side as darkness fell. 'I told him we could find a way out. He just said it was better to die.' 

But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children's schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country. 

Cruelly, it's the young who are suffering most from the 'GM Genocide'  -  the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these 'magic seeds'. 

Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high.


Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Views: 555

Replies to This Discussion

Have we had or having a governing body which sincerely anticipated to the many thousands of deaths of farmers? Are they reacting to the crisis by clearly understanding the root cause of the problem? Is clearing the loan interests just before the election period an ideal measure to address the prolonged suicidal issues in the farming sector? We all have been reading in schools that India is an Agrarian Country, but are we really Agrarian when our prime focus is on IT and Automobile and Telecommunication sectors etc? I personally feel if at all many villages in the country are doing well in their agricultural functions, it is because of the support of NGO's and other social welfare groups's support and NOT because of the government extension centres deployed in every block of several districts of the nation. What is use in calling ourselves an Agrarian Economy if the students prefer an education in Agricultural Sector at the last. India should wake up from many serious issues which are lethargically dealt and helping out Agricultural Sector is a Top issue for me as it is for many other youngsters of "Our India".

- Koush

There is a man working in India. Documentary is called one cow one planet. I think he has the solution for this problem. Also interest based loaning system should be abolished. These big corporations exploit people with the consent of your governments which support and protect these cruel systems.

Totally agree Koushik, this country is kinda playing "super-IT-power" a bit too early, the issues you mentioned will backlash in the near future if they're not dealt with... Glad to see that some in your generation are aware of that.

@Faisal - I'll look out for this doc... 

Are you talking about the Indian government or the western one that also have ties with Monsanto ? Or both ?

And is Monsanto present in Pakistan as well ?

Found it, Thx for the tip I'm downloading it now...

http://onemanonecow.com/

Faisal Sarwar said:

There is a man working in India. Documentary is called one cow one planet. I think he has the solution for this problem. 

Alex i was working as an Irrigation Site Engineer. I could see how the hefty government funds meant to develop the farmers and agriculture as a whole were going into the pockets of the Agri-Extension Officers and their higher officials. And this seems to be very common. Right from the village administrative officer everyone i dealt ( i have no exceptions unfortunate for India ) during my just 12 month, career are corrupt at their own level. Poor farmers and common man, in the clutches of these wise minority corrupt officials. This discussion may be outside the scope of the topic or even the blog for that matter, but i just vented my anger and i thank you for the opportunity.

There is a nexus of these greedy bankers who are on their mission to put the whole human race in worst kind of slavery. They are working using the same model in almost all parts of the world.  Credit is extended to businesses, farmers, countries on high interest rates and then all their blood is sucked. In some places it works in the form of mortgages and credit cards where people are lured into an abyss that they can never escape; In rural communities it works in form of Monsanto and agri banks extending loan to the poor farmer with the promise of prosperity. Economies of nations are destroyed with instruments like IMP and world bank all serving the interest of bankers like builderberg/Goldmansacks/Rothchilds/Rockefellers etc. Governments of developing countries tax their nations and steal people's hard earned money by monetary control over their wealth(printing money), in form of duties and by direct taxation on utility bills, food etc. Even countries like U.S borrow money from the Union of six private banks called federal reserve and pay interests by taxing their people.

Monsanto is present everywhere, even in Pakistan. Lands have been devastated with these GM crops and fertilizers. Who do you think funds all the research work it takes for creating  GM crops? The answer is the same nexus of banks which is doing it all everywhere.

There is a new tool they are using to keep the production of food at a constant low level by promoting bio-fuel. NGOs , government and their other bought mercenaries are all putting all their energies in promoting and protecting such corporations.This will eventually lead to more food shortages and starvation in densely populated countries like India and Pakistan.

thanks for sharing this....with poor and corrupt agri extension services coupled with lack of awareness among farmers... poor farmer communities face death blows... BEING AN AGRICULTURAL COUNTRY OUR COUNTRY WILL TRULY EMERGE OUT WITH COLOURS ONLY WHEN WE CONSIDER "AGRICULTURE" AS AN OCCUPATION EQUAL TO THAT OF IT PROFESSIONALS... WHAT NEEDED THE MOST IS BUILDING UP AGRICULTURAL INFRASTRUCTURE WITH SUSTAINABLE SELF SUFFICIENT TECHNIQUES LIKE "AQUAPONICS"....


We need to take this as a mission and help poor with this. Train them on aquaponics and other sustainable agricultural projects. Aquaponics especially has this amazing potential. With the culture of Indian carps(rohu, mrigal, catla), snake-heads, Tilapias, chinese carps(silver carp, grass carp, common carp), catfish(channel catfish, walking catfish, North african catfish, pangasius), Rainbow and brown trout, Barramundi etc. India has the potential to grow best aquaculture fish in the world and the best kind of plants too. 

Help fight the hunger!!!

Dear Faisal,

Well spoken!

Although there are a lot of challanges that need to be faced, this is totally possible and crucial.

I am looking for Desi Friends who are willing to learn Aquaponics and take on this mission. If you have any serious interest in this, then let's work together towards this goal. Lots & lots of news articles re current practices have been and will continue to be written. Let me remind you, the Developed world faces the same realities, after all, these Corporations are domiciled here. India does not need a "foreign" solution...it needs one to be implemented by it's own people who know where the shoe pinches.

Following Independence, the various governments and their policies did not allow the ownership of agricultural land by foreigners. In an attempt to rapidly increase the agricultural output for the exploding population, they simple followed what the developing countries were doing. It is easy to criticize such but when you are faced with potential famine or use of such methods, their initial choice was understandable. Now that they know better, their continued actions are not justifiable. There are however numerous organic growing movements that have started and educating people of such dangers. Our worlds have shrunk and we can now all be educated in the most safe, effective and sustainable way of growing food...using Aquaponics as the basics of all growing and then incorporating other methods such as Permaculture and organics so as to establish Ecosystems that will continue to provide living food jungles.    

Here is an extract of a letter that I recently sent to a member of this group.

I have been meaning to help spread the knowledge and use of Aquaponics in my Ancestral Motherland for some time now. Lots of offers but from differing sources that are not necessarily on same wave length as me. By starting this group, you have helped to make this "Desi" driven and not as otherwise referred "Farangi". This way, I believe, Aquaponics will become widely acceptable in Bharat, especially if we can remind people the importance of Fish / Water & Food (Life), as by examples of Matsaya and Mother Ganga.

Please review my website and let me know what possibilities you can see re our collaboration. I need to set up a couple of small joint Aquaponics projects in Bharat with people like yourself (God willing they will become self sustaining and very profitable - both monetarily as well as in helping significantly reduce / help eliminate the world hunger epidemic we are facing). I have recently hosted EKAL officials to see the possibility of introducing Sahibs Hybrid Aquaponics systems (like the links below), to the almost 35,000 villages that they operate in (teach almost 1 million rural children...with the population of the villages they live in, that could be a huge section of the population...say even 10 people per child, we are looking at 10 million+ ). They were very interested (obviously one village at a time), but they could not see the vision of how to set them up and train operators.

It seems that my prayers are close to being answered....All of you can be Key players in Bharat who will be able to help further this Mission. Sahib Aquaponics has already declared such via it's website...www.feedhungernow.org

I look forward to endless wonderful opportunities working together.

God bless

Sahib Aquaponics Hybrid Urban Growing Systems: Update

Feed Hunger Now

The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation

Faisal Sarwar said:

We need to take this as a mission and help poor with this. Train them on aquaponics and other sustainable agricultural projects. Aquaponics especially has this amazing potential. With the culture of Indian carps(rohu, mrigal, catla), snake-heads, Tilapias, chinese carps(silver carp, grass carp, common carp), catfish(channel catfish, walking catfish, North african catfish, pangasius), Rainbow and brown trout, Barramundi etc. India has the potential to grow best aquaculture fish in the world and the best kind of plants too. 

Help fight the hunger!!!

Mr. Sahib Punjabi, i am great admirer of your work. I found your video on youtube a few months back and it was most useful and inspiring. I believe you are living in Florida, but we can learn a lot from you. It is rightly said " injustice anywhere is a treat to justice everywhere". More and more people all over the world are falling below the poverty line because of the infinite greed of big corporations paired with corrupt govts. in this fascist system. 

We can bring about a change by reaching out to poor and help them with this divine cure called "aquaponics" which mimics "mother nature" itself. I truly believe it has greatest potential to bring about a revolution from the grass-root level.I want to see people defendant on no one but themselves and their own communities. People like you and Murray Hallam are certainly doing a great job. We just need to make it viral. Any opportunity to learn or discuss anything with you will be a matter of great honor for me. I am a layman in this field but I am convinced "aquaponics" is for ordinary people.  

Cheers

Faisal Sarwar

Sorry I meant to write " Injustice anywhere is a THREAT to justice everywhere" (typo error)



Faisal Sarwar said:

Mr. Sahib Punjabi, i am great admirer of your work. I found your video on youtube a few months back and it was most useful and inspiring. I believe you are living in Florida, but we can learn a lot from you. It is rightly said " injustice anywhere is a treat to justice everywhere". More and more people all over the world are falling below the poverty line because of the infinite greed of big corporations paired with corrupt govts. in this fascist system. 

We can bring about a change by reaching out to poor and help them with this divine cure called "aquaponics" which mimics "mother nature" itself. I truly believe it has greatest potential to bring about a revolution from the grass-root level.I want to see people defendant on no one but themselves and their own communities. People like you and Murray Hallam are certainly doing a great job. We just need to make it viral. Any opportunity to learn or discuss anything with you will be a matter of great honor for me. I am a layman in this field but I am convinced "aquaponics" is for ordinary people.  

Cheers

Faisal Sarwar

Awesome thoughts Faisal Sarwar and Sahib Punjabi.

 As Mr.Sahib Punjabi has rightly pointed out we can make aquaponics viral among the masses if customize it... make it affordable and the concept of permaculture " living machine" truly seems to have huge prospects ... taking agriculture in India to new dimensions.

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