Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | August 12, 2010

125,000 Indian Farmers Die as a Result of Using GM Crops

Stalin said something like, ‘when one person dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it is a statistic.’ Sane people can’t agree with him, of course. When an estimated 125,000 farmers have committed suicide as a result of using GM crops it is not a statistic, it is a tragedy and an outrage. Here is part of a Daily Mail article on this:

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops
By Andrew Malone


When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it’s even WORSE than he feared.
The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father’s body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.
As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India’s economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.
Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.
Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years’ earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out.
There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on – they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless – as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting.
Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end.
As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. ‘He was a loving and caring man,’ she said, weeping quietly.
‘But he couldn’t take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.’
Shankara’s crop had failed – twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India’s ancient story.
But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops.
Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.
Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts – and no income.
So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.
Read more


Responses

  1. This is another sickening example of multinational corporations selling dreams and duping the masses. The worst offender, though, has to be the Indian government who are selling their birthright for a mess of potage. Shame!

  2. It is indeed a tragedy for even one life to be lost for any reason, but I’m a little loathed to believe anything the Daily Mail has to say.

  3. This is absolutely appalling and yet another example of big business sacrificing anything, including human life, in pursuit of huge profits. I say well done to Prince Charles for speaking out!

  4. 😦

    Speachless

  5. It seems that the problem is not GM crops per se, but rather big business selling untested GM seeds to poor countries. However, a commenter from India on the Daily Mail article also mentioned that:

    “Income of Indian cotton farmers has increased dramatically over the last 5 years, the education level of GM cotton farmer families has risen faster, their health and nutrition has improved vis – a – vis non GM farmers and the country has doubled cotton production to 30 million bales of cotton making it self sufficient and an exporter from an importer five years ago. This has a single leading reason why the 5 million odd people working in textiles still have jobs today.”

    So clearly there are two sides to this issue, as there are to any complex situation. It is very easy to deride scientists working on GM crops as meddlers creating ‘frankenstein food’, or ‘playing God’, but in reality it may be that GM crops will be our best, and only, solution to mass food shortages that will be caused by climate change within the next 50 years.

    However, these crops need to be properly tested under controlled trials before being put on the market, as do medicinal drugs &c. Here again the fault lies not with the scientists, or with the concept of genetic modification (which is really just an advanced form of the selective breeding and cross-fertilisation farmers have been doing for millenia), but with capitalist business making a quick profit by selling untested goods to a poor country. The system needs to change, not the science.


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