Documentaries like Food Inc. have done a great job of explaining to the public concerns with modern agricultural methods and biotech companies like Monsanto, but the depth to which the corporate giant is affecting – and ruining – lives elsewhere is largely unknown.
According to a 2013 report in Al Jazeera, Monsanto’s hold on poor residents in countries like India is causing suicide rates to skyrocket. It is estimated that every 30 minutes a farmer commits suicide in India.
How can this be? And most importantly, what is the cause of this travesty and what can be done?
While biotech companies have sought to dismiss any connection to the increase in farmer suicides in India, the problem is far too pervasive to just sweep under the rug. Not long after genetically modified crops were introduced into India, rates of farmer suicides began to steadily increase. This is because the biotech industry has basically created a generational slave economy based on their toxic chemical and seed monopolies.
Read on to see how this is so.
“For us it is the control over seed, the first link in the food chain, the source of life which is our biggest concern. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life. Including the life of our farmers.” – Dr. Vandana Shiva, Al Jazeera
Among other contributing factors, debt is the largest concern haunting Indian farmers.
Companies like Monsanto sell seeds that either don’t grow or lead to the development of unstoppable superseeds and superbugs. And of course, the company then urges these farmers to purchase RoundUp and other herbicidal chemicals to care for their crops which the farmers can barely afford. And just like that, modern-day farmers are caught in a cycle that may or may not pay out.
“Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not the “creation” or invention of the plant. They are seeds of deception – the deception of Monsanto being the creator of seeds and life, the deception that while it sues farmers and traps them in debt, it is working for farmers’ welfare and “improving farmers lives” – the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of super pests and super weeds [PDF],” shares Dr. Shiva.
Once a farmer makes the very real choice to end his/her life, their traumatized family is left to pick up the pieces and pay off the accumulated debt. Such a burden can literally cause an already impoverished family to fall further into poverty.
According to the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, 17,638 Indian farmers cut their life short in 2009. This equates to the rate of about one death every 30 minutes. What’s worse, oftentimes the farmers commit the act by drinking the very same insecticide Monsanto supplied them with.
“. . . the motivations for these suicides follow a familiar pattern: Farmers become trapped in a cycle of debt trying to make a living growing Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt cotton. They always live close to the edge, but one season’s ruined crop can dash hopes of ever paying back their loans, much less enabling their families to get ahead. Manjusha’s father, like many other suicide victims, killed himself by drinking the pesticide he spreads on his crops.”
In economic ruin and left to pay off debts while fighting off starvation, many families are desperate for help and unsure of what to do:
“We are ruined now,’ said one 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.”
In the video below, Dr. Vandana Shiva illuminates the depth of the issue and shares how GMOs have affected farmers in India.
Dr. Shiva is a well-respected Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author. She is one of many speaking out against the biotech industry and demanding that we – as a collective – wake up and begin asking for transparency from companies, government agencies, and each other as we co-create a more mindful, health-conscious world.
If you believe the world deserves to know about the skyrocketing Indian farmer suicides, share this article and support groups like March Against Monsanto. Together awareness can be raised and global change enacted.
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