Story from Al Jazeera.
Writing in 2009, physicist and author Vandana Shiva outlinedMonsanto’s contributions to a “suicide economy” in India, such as an increase in the price per kilogram of cotton seeds from 7 to 17,000 rupees. Shiva lists additional complications:
“Indigenous cotton varieties can be intercropped with food crops. Bt-cotton can only be grown as a monoculture. Indigenous cotton is rain fed. Bt-cotton needs irrigation. Indigenous varieties are pest resistant. Bt-cotton, even though promoted as resistant to the bollworm, has created new pests, and to control these new pests, farmers are using 13 times more pesticides then they were using prior to introduction of Bt-cotton. And finally, Monsanto sells its GMO seeds on fraudulent claims of yields of 1500/kg/year when farmers harvest 300-400 kg/year on an average.”
There are a couple of reasons why mass farmer suicides have not generated the international attention that should ostensibly accompany such a phenomenon. For one thing, the image of desperate peasants killing themselves by the hundreds of thousands does not mesh particularly well with the portrait of India fabricated by free market pundits, who hallucinate rampant upward economic mobility among the country’s citizens thanks to globalisation.
According to filmmaker Leah Borromeo, director of the forthcoming Dirty White Gold about cotton and fashion, the dearth of international concern over the issue is also a result of the fact that “people haven’t made the connection between our consumer habits and the lives and deaths of farmers”.
The objective of the film, which shines a light on the entire cotton supply chain, is to help force legislation that will “make ethics and sustainability the norm in the fashion industry”. As Borromeo wrote in a recent articlefor the New Statesman:
“I’m exploring science and the idea of open-sourcing technology to take power away from corporations and anyone who makes a killing out of suicides.”
Borromeo’s definition of ethics and sustainability – which includes providing living wages to farmers and factory workers and preventing the destruction of ecosystems – is far more persuasive than Monsanto’s definition of sustainable agriculture…..
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