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250,000 farmers committed suicide over GMO cotton

In the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack sells everything he owns — one cow — for a handful of magic beans. It works out for Jack. He takes on the Giant, wins, and returns home to a happy mother (though she may not send him to market again responsible for the sale of their only livestock).

The story that unfolds in the documentary Bitter Seeds, featured at the Boulder International Film Festival, is about farmers who wager it all on what are promised to be miracle seeds, but land dust and failed crops rather than a magic bean pole. Their ending is far more grim.

A quarter of a million farmers in India have committed suicide in the last 16 years, according to Bitter Seeds. This equates to one farmer killing himself every 30 minutes, all because the miracle cotton seeds they were sold with the promise they would increase yield drove them into debt and failed to produce an ample return. In this tale, the giant they faced is GMO seed producer Monsanto, and they lost.

Historically, Indian farmers have cultivated their own seeds each year. However, when genetically modified seeds were introduced into the market after the World Trade Organization forced India to open its doors to foreign seed companies, things changed. According to Bitter Seeds, directed by Micha X. Peled, Indian farmers were told that, although the seeds are exorbitantly priced, they would produce double the farmers’ normal yield and resist pests. The farmers were not told that the seeds required large amounts of water rarely found in India.

Farmers sought loans from the bank or, when that option failed, signed over their land for a loan from illegal moneylenders who charge extremely high interest rates. They were left relying heavily on a high yield of crops in order to keep their land, and when the crop failed, as it so often did because of lack of water, the farmers had nothing to keep them going.

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10 comments to 250,000 farmers committed suicide over GMO cotton

  • Zachery

    Superb insights! I have been previously looking for something similar to this for a long time now. Appreciation!

    • This is eye opening. I am always amazed at how these companies can justify their reasoning behind manufacturing these goods and literally poisoning people. The ones who suffer most are the ones who can’t afford the good food, which is organically grown fruits and vegetables.

  • isla bonita puerto rico rainforest coffee

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    • Milane

      The court case was about whether Bayer was lalbie for the financial harm done to farmers because of the presence of low levels of transgenic rice in commercial fields. Which has nothing to do with the safety of genetically engineered crops, and everything to do with consumer acceptance.People like you don’t want to eat genetically engineered crops. Therefore, when it was found that American rice contained trace amounts of Bayer’s genetically engineered rice, people stopped buying it (more specifically Europe stopping importing it for a while, and resumed only when each shipment was tested to ensure it was completely free of the genetically engineered variety). Less people buying the rice meant the price of rice went down and American rice farmers made less money.All of this has nothing to do with the safety of genetically engineered crops, simply with the fact that farmers made less money because 1. Bayer’s rice got into rice shipments 2. People such as yourself wouldn’t buy such rice, and the EU wouldn’t even let it across the border. The court found Bayer should have been able to avoid their rice getting into the food supply, so they are, at least in part, lalbie for the money rice farmers lost.Let me try putting it in another context: If I did something to make a company that sells kosher food unkosher, the people who pay more for kosher food would stop buying from that company (at least until they fixed whatever was wrong) and so the company would lose money. Since I’m the one who caused the company’s food to no longer be kosher I’m lalbie for the money they lost. This is true whether you or I personally think kosher food is better, worse, or identical to normal food. Does that make sense?

  • OK, so the Headline writer was wrong on the facts, how often does that happen? Still, it doesn’t come anywhere close to the misleading and dishonest misinformation that comes from Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta and the rest of the seed cabal which have been deliberately lying to the public, various governments and scientific bodies since introducing transgenic GMOs to the marketplace.And the EU has recently banned import of two triple stacked GM maize varieties used as food and feed because of concerns of liver, kidney and reproductive organ damage in mammals in lab tests, the same concerns that were glossed over when single trait GMOs were introduced.Face it, the public doesn’t want transgenics in our food. We don’t want the extra poisons in our air and water and we don’t want monolithic multinational profit loyal megacorporations owning the patent to our food supply.We don’t need it.We didn’t ask for it.We don’t want it.We can’t afford it.The world can’t afford it.

  • Gene Modi

    Yes, we did have a Facebook page until Facebook shut it down.

  • I definitely support the gluten free labeling because I know I can trust it. However, I feel that the GF label causes some things that are naturally gluten free, or use only gluten free ingredients, to raise the price dramatically. If foods would add the GF label without adding to the price I would be more in support of it!

  • I don’t understand how you csoinder talking about the court case the article discussed to be shifting totally away from the original article you used as a reference . I was talking about what the court case was about which you can verify by reading the greenpeace article itself (rather than just the misleading headline). If you would like further references describing that court case that greenpeace wrote about I’d suggest from the St. Louis Post Dispatch (after the trial ended), or from Bloomberg, covering what was at stake in the trial a month earlier.Greenpeace posted a headline that neither their own story, nor the facts of the case backed up. The question here isn’t Are GMOs dangerous? , it’s did the decision of this jury affirm the danger of Bayers genetically engineered rice? and it didn’t. The Greenpeace headline was wrong on the facts. The article they wrote clearly reflects their views that GMOs are unsafe, but it doesn’t say anything provably false the way the headline did. The whole point of my post here was that even when put over a story that tells no lies, and misleading headline can still lead people to believe false information.Now you very clearly want to turn this discussion on a single misleading headline into a broader debate about the safety/ethics/broader societal impact of genetic engineering. I’m happy to debate these subjects, because I think it’s educational for others to get the chance read the arguments both you and I could present. But I have access to the view stats for this page, and you and I are the only ones reading at this point. I’m not going to convince you that genetic engineering is safe (though I was hoping I would be able to show you that this Missouri lawsuit wasn’t ABOUT safety), and you aren’t making any progress convincing me of their danger (for example I was aware of the study you just linked to, and you’ll notice I was discussing it with Matt and nosmokes farther up this very page).In an argument where neither you nor I will be swayed, and no one else is around to be informed in the process, what would be the point? What do you hope to gain? I grew up surrounded by creationists, and have had enough debates that accomplished nothing to last a dozen lifetimes.

  • Organic is good, but not everyone can aorffd this type of food, if I lived in a developing part of the world, and had to choose between going hungry and eating a GMO tomato, I would chose the later.

  • You may not want it. But your post appears to be aothner example of mutated misinformation spreading through in internet. If you’d like to cite specific sources I’d be happy to read them, but from your comment the EU has recently banned import of two triple stacked GM maize varieties used as food and feed it’s almost impossible for me to track down the data on my own. -The EU recently approved four new stacked varieties of genetically engineered maize (two from Monsanto, one from Pioneer and one from Syngenta). -Monsanto did withdraw a form of high lysine (a crucial animo acid that maize is normally low in) maize from approval. Do you consider that an EU ban? (although high lysine content isn’t a stack of three traits) -There was an article published a few weeks ago by some greenpeace funded european scientists than took different statistical approached some of the safety test data published by Monsanto and claimed to find evidence of toxicity of several single trait varieties of GM maize (that’s a very carefully worded sentence, I’m not a statistician and neither of the two I know well have had a chance to read over the paper themselves), but to the best of my knowledge that paper wasn’t tied to the banning of any GM traits. Looking up the sources I cited and writing this response took me ~30 minutes (I’m slow on sundays, I know). If you comment back and can point me at an article describing the bans you mention, all well and good. If the bans aren’t what you heard they were through, I will, none the less, still be running into people who (through no fault of their own) were told the same misleading information, perhaps even by the same person, as you were. And what took you or them a sentence to write will take me paragraphs to explain/refute each and every time. And my refutations will never go viral in the same way as the original false information. That is what is so frustrating.

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