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India Farmers Accuse Monsanto of Pushing Cotton "Seeds of Death"

GM WATCH daily
http://www.gmwatch.org
Jan. 24, 2006

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COMMENT

When Monsanto's President and CEO, Hugh Grant, flies in to meet India's
political leaders next week, he should be arrested for crimes against
humanity and slung into jail alongside the CEOs of all the other seed houses
that have taken a leaf out of Monsanto's Bt book.

Aggressively pushing this faulty but expensive technology onto poor farmers
amounts to nothing less than such a crime. And Monsanto knew what it was
doing from the start.

Its failure in Indonesia - the first country in Asia to accept Bt cotton - had been
unambiguous. Despite all Monsanto's corruption of officials, Bt cotton was
so unsuccessful Monsanto had to pull its GM cotton out of the country,
leaving only a trail of broken promises and illegality.
http://www.gmwatch.org/p1temp.asp?pid=58&page=1

But, of course, what Monsanto's CEO will actually be doing next week is
trying to keep India's farmers on the GM treadmill. He'll be hyping new
products like bollguard 2 as the solution to all the problems, while doing
his level best to get the company's critics - like the government of Andhra
Pradesh - off his back.
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AP farmers hit by failed Bt cotton crop
Uma Sudhir, NDTV

http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slug=AP+farmers+hit+by+failed+Bt+cotton+crop&id=83983&category=National

[link for subscribers to NDTV.com can watch the broadcast]

January 22, 2006 (Hyderabad):

Farmers in Andhra Pradesh are grappling with crippling debt and desperation
and choosing to end their lives after their cotton crop failed.

Most farmers say, Bt cotton that was introduced to put an end to their
problems, have now become one of the biggest causes of farmer suicides.

Failed crop

Twenty-year-old Vijayalakshmi is a widow and she blames the genetically
modified Bt cotton for it.

Less than two months ago, her husband Raju drank pesticide because the Bt
cotton he grew on four acres left him with a debt of over Rs 1 lakh.

With no buyers even for the land he owned, the humiliation of not being able
to even ensure his wife and two little children don't go hungry was too much
for the 25-year-old.

"We grew Raasi [Bt] hybrid seeds with great hope but it has ruined us. Never
before, had we invested Rs 75,000 in one crop. Now he is dead and I have
debts and two children. What should I do?" said Vijaylakshmi.

Rising debts

There were other widows and farmers with similar tales at the public hearing
on Bt cotton in Hyderabad.

All of them echo the sentiment that what was seen as the seeds of hope are
turning out to be seeds of debt and death.

"Bt Cotton is hardly useful. They had said that it would yield 10-12 or even
15 quintals but I got only 3 quintals," said Devaiah, a cotton farmer.

"It has not significantly reduced pesticide use, it has not reduced
cultivation cost. It has in fact increased cultivation cost.

"There's no high yield, farmers have suffered negative returns. That is why
the first Bt cotton suicides have started being reported," said P V
Satheesh, Convenor, South Against Genetic Engineering.

Hit by GM crops

Activists say they fear the proposed meeting next week of multinational seed
giant Monsanto's CEO with the President and Prime Minister could be an
attempt to influence prospects for genetically modified seeds in India.

In the last four years that Bt cotton has been grown, every time farmers
encountered a failure, they were told, that particular variety had failed
for some reason but the technology itself was faultless.

So a new variety was popularised the next year. As one activist put it, Bt
cotton has become the story of 'operation successful, patient dead'.

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This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's
Own Foundation, edited by Thomas Wittman and is a production of the
Ecological Farming Association www.eco-farm.org <http://www.eco-farm.org/>
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