More than 100 farmers’ organisations from about 14 states on Thursday presented a charter of demands to political parties for their considering while preparing the manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections.
The groups demanded guarantee of minimum income for farm households, ecologically sustainable farming, shift to organic farming and control of rural communities over agricultural resources, including land, water, forests and seeds. They also demanded that open-air release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the garb of field trials be stopped.
Regarding the disturbing trend of suicides sweeping across India’s agricultural sector, the report states:
Citing census data, farmers’ representatives said on an average, one farmer commits suicide every half an hour. Everyday, hundreds of farmers are quitting agriculture.
“The average monthly income of an overwhelming majority of Indian farmers is far less than what their average monthly expenditure is, making it difficult for most farm households to make their ends meet,” said Kavita Kuruganti, convenor for Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture.
Clearly, the agricultural sector of India is failing, and it is not because it has not resigned itself to the devices and designs of foreign big-agri corporations, but precisely because it already has. In rebuttal to the growing backlash against corporations like Monsanto, Western media outlets have proposed that the farmers are wrong about why they claim they are killing themselves, and suggests instead it is both neither as serious as portrayed, and certainly not the result of big-agri’s role in monopolizing India’s agricultural sector.
The National Post, in its article, “The myth of India’s ‘GM genocide’: Genetically modified cotton blamed for wave of farmer suicides,” admits that:
A 2011 report published by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) claimed the sale of expensive genetically modified seeds to rural Indian farmers was a key factor contributing to the growing suicide crisis.
“Multinational agribusiness corporations took advantage of India’s new market globalization … by aggressively promoting the introduction of genetically modified seeds in Indian agriculture,” said the report.
But then counters by claiming:
But in 2008, the International Food Policy Research Institute, an alliance of 64 governments, private foundations, and international and regional organizations that aims to end hunger in the developing world, reached an entirely different conclusion.
“It is not only inaccurate, but simply wrong to blame the use of Bt cotton as the primary cause of farmer suicides in India,” said the report, stating that the introduction of Bt cotton in India had actually been effective in producing higher yields and decreasing pesticide usage by nearly 40%.
The credibility and objectivity of the “International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPR),” particularly in regards to the use of Bt cotton in India, is compromised by the fact that its donors list is dominated by organizations of which Monsanto and other GMO purveyors fund directly.
For example, the “Better Cotton Initiative” which funds the IFPR is in turn backed by big-agri giant Cargill. Another IFPR donor is Crop Life International, which in turn is funded by BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta, and others. The laundering of big-agri cash and support through proxy organizations to conceal their involvement only further raises suspicion regarding the integrity and veracity of the IFPR’s contradictory report – a report that just so happens to define reality in terms that suits big business.
And of course, the National Post itself appears compromised, with its article parroting, almost verbatim, the official rebuttal posted on Monsanto’s official website regarding Bt cotton. Offered up in a post titled, “Is Bt or GMO Cotton the Reason for Indian Farmer Suicides,” Monsanto also claims “multiple societal issues are contributing to an unacceptably frequent occurrence of farmer suicides in India,” just as the National Post does – and to no one’s surprise, references the very report the recipient of Monsanto’s laundered funding published.
And while big-agri attempts to deflect attention away from the impact of genetically modified crops, the big-agri chemical racket even without the use of GMO has resulted in the ruination of farmers nationwide not just in India, but in nearby Thailand as well. Were big-agri’s miracle cures as good as they claim, farmers worldwide would be enjoying unprecedented, undeniable prosperity, rather than constantly living upon a razor’s edge, and more often than not falling into the abyss all together.
India’s Grassroots are Fighting Back