With the moniker of “The Most Evil Company in the World,” news sites are tearing apart Monsanto for the effects of their herbicide (Roundup) and their genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Inquisitr previously reported on Monsanto slapping a lawsuit against Maui, Hawaii because the Hawaiian county is passing a law that bans GMOs. GMOs, in general, were also previously reported, as Coca-Cola and Fairlife’s new milk product is under fire for its support of GMOs, something that may be missed behind the veil of their sexist advertising.
Now, Monsanto is in the sniper’s crosshairs again as the suicide rate among farmers in India increases. The reason why Monsanto is involved is that India is blaming the increased suicide rate on GMO seeds.
According to an article by RT and followed up by Althealth Works, there have been over 290,000 suicides by Indian farmers over the last 20 years. This was actually researched by Alakananda Nag last year. Nag interviewed dozens of relatives of those who’ve taken their lives. She also links the rise in suicide rate to the use of GMO seeds, and believes small farms are particularly vulnerable.
“The large farms certainly have the funds to support themselves and get on, but the smaller ones are really ones that suffer the most. Monsanto definitely has a very big hand to play. A few years ago it was illegal to grow GMO crops in India. It’s not like the suicide did not exist back then. It did, but I think there was definitely a sharp rise in the [suicide] numbers once [GMOs] were allowed.”
The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice has estimated that in 2009 alone, 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide. That is one farmer every 30 minutes. With numbers like that, why is it that farmers are even using Monsanto’s GMO seed if it is believed to have caused so many suicides? The answer lies in the fact that it is difficult to earn a living as a farmer. When GMOs were legalized back in 2002, it was a “saving grace” for farmers because they thought it would make their lives easier. Sheldon Krimsky, the head of the Council for Responsible Genetics, confirms this.
“The people would give out the loans if they believed these seeds would give the greatest yields. So they are not going to get a loan if they don’t go with the GMOs. And many of them felt coerced to take the GM seeds. The GM crops have not done as well in all regions of India… [That has led to] much greater indebtedness with the GM crops that did not perform as well.”
Dr. Vandana Shiva, an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author, told We Are Change that the problem with GMO seeds in India is that they’re not bred for the area, so they fail frequently. This, along with Shiva’s analysis on how small farms that produce cotton are the most effected, were part of the interview, which is attached below for your viewing.
Monsanto has made a counter-claim, in which they deny that its seeds contributed to the hardships of Indians. They cite several studies to support their claim, including a 2008 report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute, a Washington-based think tank. The study argues that there is no evidence for an increased suicide rate following the 2002 introduction of GMO cotton. Despite Monsanto’s claim, a number of human rights advocates have warned that GMOs have not been studied thoroughly enough to evaluate any potential risks.
Now that you’ve read the report of how India is blaming Monsanto’s GMO seeds for the rising suicide rate among their farmers, what do you think? Do you believe that the GMO seeds weren’t thoroughly studied for any risks, which are now being realized? Do you agree with Monsanto that the suicide rate has nothing to do with their GMO seeds?
[Image via Bing]