Saturday, September 18, 2010

thingsimreading:Monsanto Indian Farmer Suicide - Reporter Fred...


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via maia medicine on 9/18/10


Monsanto Indian Farmer Suicide - Reporter Fred de Sam Lazaro.

below is a transcript (apologies for any errors and a couple of blanks as i did this myself and transcription isn't my best skill) of this video which is making FB rounds again. but before the transcript, i wanted to make note that this is not new information and that i found a couple of old but very compelling related articles. it really saddens me to realize that this information, exposé, if you will, did not lead to any change in the last several years.

Daily Mail UK - November 2008 - The GM Genocide: Thousands of Indian Farmers are Committing Suicide After Using Genetically Modified Crops

Democracy Now - December 2006 - Vindana Shiva* on Farmer Suicides and More

* Shiva also appears in the above video

Transcript of video:

Voiceover of reporter (Fred de Sam Lazaro): A day earlier Krisnabhai had buried her husband, Thalat, who had committed suicide.

Krisnabhai Tekham (voiceover of interpreter): He came home from the field and he collapsed. His mouth was smelling of pesticide. So we put him on a cart and took him to the hospital in town but he died on the way.

Voiceover of reporter: Thalat Tekham leaves a young daughter, his 38-year-old widow, and her elderly father.

(video cuts and restarts)

Reporter: In an unmarked grave some two miles from where he lived, Thalat was laid to rest. He added one to a grim tally. Here in the _____ Region of Central India, some 1300 cotton farmers took their own lives in 2006.

(video cuts and restarts)

Voiceover of reporter: Besides monsoons and markets, farmers face another problem: Monsanto, according to Vandana Shiva. She's a nuclear scientist who became an anti-globalization activist 20 years ago.

Vandana Shiva: Every seed in cotton that is in the market today is linked to one company or the other, licensed and controlled by Monsanto.

Voiceover of reporter: She says peasant farmers used to use natural fertilizers and pesticides, and they grew and saved their own seeds to plant the next year's crop. In the 70s, coaxed by the government and international aid donors, farmers began to use hybrid seeds bought in the store. These offered the promise of better yields and disease-resistance, but they can require careful management, including chemical fertilizer and pesticides.

(Commercial is shown in the background as voiceover continues)

More recently genetically modified BT cottonseeds were introduced by St. Louis-based Monsanto, licensed and sold under the names of well-known Indian seed companies. BT seeds are patented, so farmers aren't allowed to grow and re-plant them. They must be bought every year from the seed companies, which market them with film stars and even Hindu deities, says Vandana Shiva.

(Scene cuts to a field of cotton and you see two dark hands holding a part of a cotton plant.)

Voiceover of Interpreter: They keep saying this is "red disease", "red disease". I really don't know why this is happening.

Voiceover of reporter: Andre is learning that his new crop is not as disease-resistant as the ads said. His is the classic saga in which many illiterate farmers eventually lose their land, says Vandana Shiva.

Vandana Shiva: That innocent farmer is grabbed by the agent who says "Here's a miracle seed that's going to double your income. You're going to be a millionaire. Put your thumbprint out here." The farmer has no idea what he's signing onto. The farmer has no idea that two weeks down the line he'll have to come back for pesticide. That when the leaves will start shriveling up the agent will say "No no, you also needed irrigation. We didn't tell that to you in the beginning. So take a ___ loan, and here's another loan."

Voiceover of Reporter: The Monsanto Company declined our request for an interview. It did issue a statement that, in part, reads: "While some may suggest that BT cotton is to blame the fact is that there are multiple social, economic and environmental factors that make agriculture challenging in India." The company's website features several…

(video cuts off and restarts showing on-line video "testimony" by a farmer that appears to be from the Monsanto site that was being shown before the cut.)

Video: I bought a truck, tractor, built a house, and a well. Before, we would use an ox-cart and go to sell.

Voiceover of reporter: For his part, the government's Sudhir Goel agreed some farmer's are doing well with the BT.

Sudhir Goel (also transcribed on video): The BT cotton, whenever you have good rains, it gives good results. If it is an irrigated farmer, he fetches good results. So we should not blame BT cotton.

Voiceover of reporter: The problem is, fewer than 10% of farmers in ___ have irrigated fields that can provide the regular watering that BT, more than ordinary cotton, requires for optimal results. Most farmers here still rely on rainfall. Too much, too little, too early, too late, and the BT crop can wither. So what does Goel make of the ads for seeds that may not be suitable to the terrain here?

Voiceover of reporter speaking to Goel again: You say that you cannot control advertising. Surely if it's false advertising and misleading, you can.

Sudhir Goel: It is not false. In fact, in their advertising campaign and also in the packets which they are selling it is mentioned that the best results are with irrigated farming.

Voiceover of reporter: He says the government is committed to increasing the acreage under irrigation in this region, but that inspires little confidence on the ground, says farm activist Kishore Tiwari.

Voiceover of interpreter for Kishore Tiwari: Government is not helping these people at all. It's just some peanuts, so meager that you can't even call it help. People have lost all confidence in the leaders.

Voiceover of reporter: Tiwari's organization tallies and posts pictures of the grim suicide toll in ______. He says the government priority has been the new urban high-tech based economy. In rural areas, where 70% of Indians live, he says little is spent on infrastructure and corrupt officials don't protect farmers from…

(video cuts off)


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