The Farmer Suicide Belt of India

Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India and Monsanto

Farmers in India have been committing suicide in unprecedented numbers. 1 every 30 minutes.

We're talking small farmers who hold from 7 to 12 acres of land. Social pressures like raising money for weddings and for education for children cause many to sell off land to pay for them or make loans they cannot repay when crops fail. This is probably not good for the financial health of the family or their daughters's. Add to that many families are left destitute, landless, homeless.

VANDANA SHIVA: (interviewed in 2006) Indian farmers have never committed suicide on a large scale. It’s something totally new. It’s linked to the last decade of globalization, trade liberalization under a corporate-driven economy. The seed sector was liberalized to allow corporations like Cargill and Monsanto to sell unregulated, untested seed. They began with hybrids, which can’t be saved, and moved on to genetically engineered Bt cotton.

The cotton belt is where the suicides are taking place on a very, very large scale. It is the suicide belt of India. And the high cost of seed is linked to high cost of chemicals, because these seeds need chemicals. In addition, these costly seeds need to be bought every year, because their very design is to make seeds nonrenewable, seed that isn’t renewable by its very nature, but whether it’s through patenting systems, intellectual property rights or technologically through hybridization, nonrenewable seed is being sold to farmers so they must buy every year.

There’s a case going on in the Supreme Court of India right now on the monopoly practices of Monsanto. An antitrust court ruled against Monsanto, because the price is so high, farmers necessarily get into a debt trap, which is why I was talking about credit, for the wrong thing, could actually be a problem and not a solution.

In addition, the price of cotton is collapsing under the huge $4 billion subsidies given to agribusiness in the United States, which then dumps cotton on a world market with 50% reduction of price artificially. This is what led to the Cancun failure of WTO, but this is what is killing Indian farmers.

Just three days ago, farmers were protesting against the low prices of cotton. They went to the government agency, which before globalization used to buy cotton at a fair price. One farmer was shot dead. So we’re not just seeing suicides, we’re also seeing farmers’ protests treated as a new threat to the regime.

Genetic modification based on an obsolete theory and hence ineffective and dangerous

Genetic engineered seed

Then, Walmart cames along and puts the small farmer markets out of business, an essential source of income for many in India.

Dr Vandana Shiva, physicist, eco-feminist, author, activist, has founded Seeds of Freedom and Naranya, with organic seed banks, in efforts to save over 56 species (under threat in India) of flower, fruits, grains, vegetables, and other cash crops from the dangers and eradication by GM seed crops and their products.

René O'Deay----


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