Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Did the Green Revolution Prevent Famines? Gene Revolution now touted as the way forward in agriculture

Greetings from MY RIGHT TO SAFE FOOD

Stark realities in the link below by Alexix Lathem reveal startling home truths of the much praised Green Revolution. The greed of transnationals languishing in the aftermath of Green Revolution laughing their way to their banks, yet world over, these greed driven giants still get patted for doing splendours - eradicating hunger and poverty of the millions.

A question to ponder. Why as consumers have we become so callous and not willfully recognise the devious ploys put forth, first by the proponents of pesticides/chemical fertilisers and seed corporations? With billions being spent on creative advertisements to convince and impress fresh gullible minds, we the suckers are in awe, when a cow reveals her teeth glowing white, dairy produce glowing white, refined rice glowing white, refined sugar/salt glowing white, refined oil beaming bright, the list of endless falsified white tall claims. We actually start to believe and then indulge in it. When in reality, a silent slow poisoning is taking place in our minds and bodies. So swayed are we by such advertising gimmicks that in the late seventies, there was an advertisement of a model ingesting a spoonful of pesticide powder saying to the public at large, how safe it was. This i recall was aired widely, later it was revealed by the creators of the advertisement that all the model was ingesting was one tablespoon of baby milk powder and not pesticide!

Unfortunately there exists no stringent watchdog organisations to alert us anymore, we are so used to being spoon fed, make no efforts to find out the politics behind such corporations! We like to believe and blindly trust anything packaged well with a foreign tag. Because the right to question nor reason is the least tread path. Easy prey, masses of human guinea pigs are freely available to these disguised, distinguished caretakers. No wonder such catastrophes.

Questions often debated in my session by the urban elite be it from IT, Doctors, IIT, scientists, MSW students on sustainable farming practices. What do you expect, when these minds for over 40 odd years have only been impressed, clogged by the huge media coverage on the virtues of Green Revolution. Sustainable farming is no rocket science, i invite many to visit my self contained farm. I spend hours just relaying hardcore facts. Unfortunately media coverage this front is not aggressive for there are no profits earned. Proponents of such safe farming practises do not have obnoxious funds to squander on publicity to convince the world at large. Only those who are serious when confronted by their conscience or when inflicted with illness or by the loss of a loved one will make sincere attempts to find out where the equation has seriously gone wrong.

Lets start with Hybrid seeds which lose their viability after the first generation as they are developed under specified conditions marketed by seed companies for the business for making hoards of money. These seeds are not replicable, so each year farmers purchase seeds at high costs, hugely dependent on outside help to grow his crops with low resistance to pests and disease attacks. Generaly, if the crops is affected by disease, the entire crops are then detroyed because of genetic similarity. Application of external inputs like chemcial fertilisers and pesticides form an expensive package, a pre requisite for hybrids to flourish well. Yields from hybrid seeds decrease over a period of time as the chemcial packages kill all beneficial organisms and disrupts the whole eco system.

So where is the question of sustainability in Green Revolution, let alone feed the hungry?

The next question asked "Then why are traditional organic seeds are not being made available by the government? Simple, traditional, native, (same) organic seeds are geared for a subsistence economy as farmers first grows food for his sustenance and markets the surplus. He does not depend on an expert to tell him how to grow his crop for he promotes self reliance. Traditional seeds are diverse, hardy and replicable, over the years given the agro climatic conditions these native seeds develops resistance to pests and disease attacks. This means the farmer can save seeds for the next season. Crop loss minimalised. This age old practice came naturally over centuries, wisely adopted by our grandparents, not so long ago. Therefore the farmer is not dependent on the government nor the seed corporations for farming. But within a few decades of Green Revolution with importing technology of seeds and chemical fertilisers, it has not only crippled but killed the dignity of our farmers. Trans-nationals/private companies, hand in glove with government have succeeded to break the backbone the pride of our country - Our Once Sustainable Farmers.

So if the 70% farmers get independent, the coffers of the government would corrode and GDP down. The government surely cannot cope with this, so faulty policies are put into practice to appease a handul rich.

When countries world over have banned organo-phosphates and chlorines, pesticides like DDT, Aldrin, Endosulphan and more, there still exists this sad belief that high yielding varieties are still the solution to save the millions. Let me clarify, these so called high yielding varieties are designed to yield only provided corresponding high pesticide/ chemical fertiliser are applied which are expensive. It literally costs an arm and a leg of not only humans but depletes our environment of all its rich reserves. Yet, the educated continue to pledge that this revolution brought with it saving technologies.

Worse still, we continue wearing blinkers not wishing to see the wood for the trees, the open ploys of Biotech proponents who wish for a 100% genetically modified world, with only one giant Monsanto owning 91% of GM seeds globally. Whether in the US, India or South America, it is almost impossible to find a non-transgenic seed because Monsanto first bought the main seed companies and then imposed its patented seeds. Monsanto has a control agency called the “gene police”. It’s an outrageous system: these are private investigative agencies who go on to farmers’ fields and take samples, they ask farmers to show their invoices for purchases of seed and herbicide from Monsanto and if they are not forthcoming, the farmers get sued. The company always wins in court, because not respecting a contract is considered a breach of Monsanto’s intellectual property rights. They not only win when a farmer has intentionally saved part of the harvest, but even when GM seeds from a neighbor's property, or through chance, are found in the fields of a farmer who doesn't grow transgenic seeds. This happened to Hendrik Hartkamp, a Dutchman who bought a farm in Oklahoma: he was sued and forced to pay a big fine which led to him having to sell his property. The judge’s justification? It's irrelevant how the seeds got there, the farmer is responsible for what is in his fields. So he is guilty … It’s incredible.

These trans-national companies (TNC's) have come into our country claiming to revolutionise Third World Agriculture. Research labs are being set up at enormous costs. With tall yarns and show biz, they publicise how they are there to improve crop yields, protect crops from pest attacks and help farmers. TNC's only concern is to fill their coffers by producing Hybrid seeds now GM seeds along with plant protection chemicals to make herbidice -resistant seeds that respond only to fertilisers and pesticides manufactured by them. Under these cirucmstances, a farmer is forced to buy the entire package of seeds, chemical fetilisers and plant protection chemicals from the same company without a choice even if it is exorbitantly priced.

With the intellectual property laws being strengthened to bring more control in the hands of the these TNC's, the effort is to monopolise the entire food chain. He who controls seeds, will control agriculture. Then the Swiss multinational seed giant Syngenta, have mapped the rice genome. Syngenta has already announced that it will not be sharing the rice genome freely. In fact, Syngenta has already applied for bulk patents on 30,000 genes of rice (from a total of 37,500 genes in rice). The patent applications are pending. Once Syngenta gets the patents, the rice plant will for all practical purposes go into the private domain of Syngenta. How is that?

What this would mean for India, the place of origin of rice, is quite obvious. Rice plant which was a mankind’s heritage all these years will now become the private property of Syngenta. Now you know market for seeds is huge: don't forget that everything we eat exists because a farmer planted a seed in the earth. Once these companies get control over these genes the entire farming community and consumers will be at the mercy of the multinational seed companies.

So, where is the question of sustainability from this so called cancerous Gene Revolution???

GM crops are being pushed into India for reasons not of urgent need or requirement but for purely reasons of commerce. Knowing that the Indian policy makers and the laws of the land can be easily circumvented, the biotechnology industry has launched a multi-pronged attack to ensure that India accepts GM crops. This assault comes at a time when world out there, is growing huge resistance against GM crops. If small countries like Eygpt, Mexico can stand up and say NO to GM foods, even chickens more wise than us human lot are not fooled by GM for they refuse to eat it, then we Indians are nothing more than walking robotic corpses.

13th Oct 2009 If you do not believe me, the recent views of Jeffrey Smith, author of Genetic Roulette on Bt Brinjal :
"We know that Bt is indeed active on humans and animals, in spite of the baseless claims made by the industry and regulators. In fact, hundreds of people in the US and Canada exhibited allergic reactions and flu-like symptoms when they were sprayed with Bt from planes. The Bt in GM crops is thousands of times more concentrated than the natural spray form, and is designed to be more toxic. It is therefore no surprise to find that cotton workers throughout India are experiencing the exact same allergic symptoms--particularly itching--after touching Bt cotton. And thousands of sheep, buffalo, cows, and goats also died after grazing on Bt cotton plants after harvest--but not on natural cotton.

If Bt brinjal produces allergic or toxic symptoms in the population, it could be years or decades before authorities are able to track the cause. The brinjal is not labeled, so some may get reactions to some meals with brinjal, and not to others. isolating the cause is difficult. By the time it is discovered, the brinjal will have contaminated so many varieties, abandoning brinjal altogether may be the only recourse. This could be a disaster in the making, on so many levels."

This is no longer shocking to me. You may wonder why i am so crazed constantly raising alarm bells, time and again to all of you, when all i could do is sit pretty tight and enjoy the bountiful harvest of my farm. The truth is that i have no desire to see a further sick society. I am outraged that so reckless are we with our lives that we fail to consider the lives of our children, whose future is at stake. Innocent victims eating GM Corn widely available in shopping malls only to suffer the consequences of infertility. I quote only one such disaster. Why complain when hospital bills escalate, more spends in the pharma thats what they want, and you offer them your "taken for granted life" and that of your loved ones for further dissection and speculation.

Good, continue to be lazy, selfish and accept what comes to you lying low. Watch out, its not far when your rights of free choice will no longer be with you.

In solidarity

Sangita Sharma

Assessing the Legacy of Norman Borlaug: Did the Green Revolution Prevent Famines?
Written by Alexis Lathem Thursday, 08 October 2009

Just taken a few excerpts from the above article, you may click the link to view the whole piece.

The persistence of the belief that so- called high yielding seeds (they produce high yields only because they are tolerant of large doses of chemical fertilizers) saved millions of people from famine, is all the more remarkable given that the scholarship has thoroughly discredited it. What is implied here is that industrial methods produce more food than small farms that integrate a diversity of crops and rely on natural fertilizers and hand labor – which has been disproved by innumerable scientific studies.[1]

What is also implied by the argument is the Malthusian logic, which holds that famines are a consequence of a lack of food, and a lack a food is a consequence of the failure of agricultural systems to produce enough to keep up with population growth. Naturally where there is hunger, we assume that there is a lack of food. Historians and economists – most notably Amartya Sen, another Nobel laureate, who has examined the causes of hunger and famine in dozens of scholarly books – have found that famine and hunger have historically been unrelated to food availability.[2] Malthus, in other words, is thoroughly irrelevant to any understanding of the causes of hunger in the world. What was true in Ireland during the potato famine of 1845-1852 was also true in Bengal in 1943, and it remains true today– which is that millions died of starvation in the midst of agricultural abundance.

In the year 1880 the Commission found that: The effect of drought is to diminish greatly and at last to stop, all field labor, and to throw out of employment the great mass of people who live on the wages of such labor …distress arises, not so much from an actual want of food, as from a loss of wages – in other words, money to buy food…as a general rule, there is an abundance of food procurable, even in the worst districts and the worst time; but when men who at their best, live from hand to mouth, are deprived of their means of earning wages, they starve, not from the impossibility of getting food, but for want of the necessary money to buy it.[3]

Later, in its report on the Bengal famine of 1943 – the last major famine to occur in India, which claimed one and a half a million lives, the Commission also attributed other factors – namely greed and opportunism, as causes of the disaster: “Enormous profits were made out of this calamity, and in the circumstances, profits for some meant death for others. A large part of the community lived in plenty while others starved, and there was much indifference in the face of suffering.”[4]


  1. Hello
    Hey you have given really very nice information.I had no idea about this seeds.Thank you very much for sharing this good information with us.


  2. nicely written, hope this post recieves the attention it requires. I also like the writings of Alexis Lathem