Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Could Monsanto Be Responsible for One Indian Farmer's Death Every Thirty Minutes?
Over 1,500 farmers in the agricultural Indian state of Chattisgarh have committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure. The state was hit hard by falling water levels.
Sources:Sustaine Lane April 17, 2009
Bharatendu Prakash, of the Organic Farming Association of India, said that, "Farmers' suicides are increasing due to a vicious circle created by money lenders. They lure farmers to take money but when the crops fail, they are left with no option other than death."Mr. Prakash added that the government needs to take up the cause of the poor farmers just as they fight for a strong economy.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Genetically modified plants and foods are, from my perception, one of the largest threats that we have against the very sustainability of the human race and a healthy future existence on earth. Let’s face it, how long can your descendants survive if there isn’t any food to eat, and Monsanto’s “suicide gene” starts spreading to other native plants so they won’t reproduce naturally?
Although Monsanto claims this is impossible, is their shortsighted focus on profits is blinding them to the very real threats that their technology is posing to the viability of life on earth? And that’s over and above the unimaginable, direct harm their “scientific marvels” bring to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet, such as these Indian farmers.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, more than 182,900 Indian farmers took their own lives between 1997 and 2007. It estimates 46 Indian farmers commit suicide every day. That equates to roughly one suicide every 30 minutes!
And although some will argue that natural events are to blame, such as lack of rain, the fact many believe the situation can be traced directly back to the unconscionable tactics of Monsanto, which is driving these farmers into very desperate actions.
Monsanto’s Role in Farmers’ Suicides
Over the past decade, millions of Indian farmers have been promised radically increased harvests and income if they switch from their traditional age tested farming methods to genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton seeds. So, they borrow money to buy GM seeds, which need certain pesticides, which requires more money. And when rain fall is sparse, the GM crops fare far worse than traditional crops – a fact that these farmers oftentimes don’t learn until it’s too late and they’re standing there with failed crops, spiraling debts, and no income.
Monsanto has been ruthless in their drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops, and it gives us a very clear picture of what could be in store for the rest of the world’s small farmers if they’re allowed to continue.
Making matters worse, these GM seeds also contain “suicide genes” that render the seeds from this year’s crop useless. They simply won’t grow, so you cannot save them to plant for your next season’s harvest – a traditional farming method that’s been used since the dawn of farming itself. This means farmers are forced to buy the patented seeds and fertilizer again and again, every year.
But that’s not all.
Bt resistant pests and Roundup tolerant superweeds are on the rise, rendering the two major GM crop traits useless as well. The evolution of Bt resistant bollworms worldwide have now been confirmed and documented.
The end result is that farmers are left with all of the downsides and none of the intended benefits.
So, while drought may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some farmers in India, it’s the globalization model of agriculture promoted by companies like Monsanto and Cargill that is the underlying cause of the problem.
In the video above, renowned physicist and anti-globalization activist Vandana Shiva describes how farmers are essentially tricked into a corner they cannot get out of. In a 2006 interview with Democracy Now! she said:
“A few weeks ago, I was in Punjab. 2,800 widows of farmer suicides who have lost their land, are having to bring up children as landless workers on others' land. And yet, the system does not respond to it, because there's only one response: get Monsanto out of the seed sector--they are part of this genocide -- and ensure WTO rules are not bringing down the prices of agricultural produce in the United States, in Canada, in India, and allow trade to be honest.
I don't think we need to talk about free trade and fair trade. We need to talk about honest trade. Today's trade system, especially in agriculture, is dishonest, and dishonesty has become a war against farmers. It's become a genocide.”
This latest round of mass suicides in India should be a wake-up call to us all -- that the industrial agriculture model is literally killing the farmers of our world.
I see it as a call to become more vigilant than ever, and speak out against corporations that exploit farmers and the earth for their own selfish and greedy goals. If we don’t, they will succeed – whether intentionally or unintentionally – to create unspeakable suffering for our children, grandchildren and future generations.
Vigilance Requires Paying Attention to Details
Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company. What does this mean for you and your family’s health? Well, many of you probably don't realize just how ubiquitous GM foods now are.
We’re not just talking about cotton to be used for clothing and other products here; we’re talking about some of the most commonly consumed foods on the market.
Farmers of GM fruits and vegetables across the world have not started committing suicide yet due to failed crops, but the prevalence of these foods are a massive, potentially genocidal, experiment – and you and your children are the guinea pigs.
Did you know that genetically modified foods are so prevalent in the United States that if you randomly pick an item off your grocery store's shelves, you have a 75 percent chance of picking a food with GM ingredients?
It’s true. At least seven out of every 10 food items have been genetically modified!
The potential health ramifications of these world-wide experiments with our food supply are frightening to say the least. If you care about the health and future of your family, I strongly urge you to pay attention to the details, and refuse the destructive shenanigans of companies like Monsanto by buying only non-GM foods.
The True Food Shopping Guide is a great tool for helping you determine which brands and products contain GM ingredients. It lists 20 different food categories that include everything from baby food to chocolate.
Additionally, here are four simple steps to decrease your consumption of GM foods as much as possible:
* Reduce or eliminate processed foods in your diet. The fact that 75 percent of processed foods contain GM ingredients is only one of the many reasons to stick to a whole foods diet.
* Read produce and food labels. Conventionally raised soybeans and corn make up the largest portion of genetically modified crops. Ingredients made from these foods include high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), corn flour and meal, dextrin, starch, soy sauce, margarine, and tofu.
* Buy organic produce. By definition, food that is certified organic must be free from all GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GM corn feed.
* Look at produce stickers. The PLU code on stickers for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers, organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number nine, and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number eight.
Organic India Making a Dent
Last November I visited thousands of these Indian farmers. These farmers had escaped the clutches of Monsanto, thanks to the efforts of Organic India that taught them how to grow crops organically.
Organic India has helped over 150,000 farmers change back to time-honored methods that are producing high quality plants and herbs. They have also constructed a number of hospitals and clinics to serve these farmers, and have helped tremendously to restore their dignity.
Information is Power
To further guide you in understanding the problems associated with GM foods, I strongly recommend reading the incredible series Seeds of Doubt, written by staffers at the Sacramento Bee.
And, last but not least, I urge everyone to watch the video The Future of Food. Forward the link to this video widely among your friends, family and acquaintances. This in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind genetically modified foods is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. It will help you understand how and why the genetic engineering we allow to be unleashed today is a very real threat to ALL future generations.