1.Response to Gurcharan Das - Suman Sahai
2.Re: Farmer suicides continue - Kisan Mehta
EXTRACT: ...it is the cultivation of GM Bt Cotton Seeds distributed by Mahyco/Monsanto Combine that is responsible for the majority of suicides. Simple calculations will show that Monsanto seeds purchased at exorbitantly high prices can never be viable at the cotton procurement prices set by the government. Monsanto seeds have failed to give the hyped claims of higher yields and yet the authorites have not banned those seeds. In fact they are shamelessly promoting the GM culture. (item 2)
1.Response by Suman Sahai to Gurcharan Das in Times of India
4 November 2007 [LET BIOTECH CROPS BLOOM!]
Mr Gurcharan Das's article asking for biotech crops to be allowed to bloom, is a piece with many factual inaccuracies (Bt is not biotech but Bacillus thuriengensis). Such gaffes can happen when one does not understand the subject, but what baffles is the self-assurance with which the misinformation has been packaged. Mr Das's contention that Bt cotton alone is responsible for the 'highest production and exports in India's history' is not just incorrect, it ignores the factors that resulted in a good cotton yield this year. The reasons are many, low pest pressure in most parts, good agro climatic conditions this crop season, a surge of new cotton varieties with high yield potential which delivered under favorable agronomic conditions and a better government policy on inputs, the result of pressure arising from the spate of Bt cotton failures these last few years.
Mr Das's confident assertion that farmers are 'anxiously waiting for biotech soya, rice, corn that are flourishing in other countries' is as much in the air as much of his article. No biotech rice has been [commercially] released anywhere in the world yet, so it cannot be flourishing. Where did Mr Das get the information that farmers are waiting anxiously? Has a farmer response survey been done? Was a needs assessment exercise conducted to ascertain what farmers wanted? The fact is that there is very little awareness among the farming community about transgenic crops, there has been little effort to consult them on what they need or inform them about what crops are available.
Mr Das displays an astonishing innocence about the political economy of transgenic technology, the roadblocks to technology access, biodiversity, and specially biosafety issues. Transgenic technology is regulated the world over, not because of the ideology of environmentalists, but because scientists have outstanding concerns about the safety of transgenic products for the environment and for human and animal health. There is growing scientific evidence indicating the potential health dangers from new proteins created by genetic engineering. If Mr Das is interested in commenting on transgenic products, boning up on facts would be a good place to begin, otherwise his writing is likely to be dismissed as a promotion for the biotech industry.
Dr. Suman Sahai
New Delhi, INDIA
2.Re: Farmer suicides continue
Farmer Suicides in Vidarbh continue unabated. The casual way the Governments of India and Maharashtra have kept their eyes and ears open to this tragedy of unparalleled magnitude would make anybody clear that they do not wish to go beyond appointing committees and deciding to not to implement Committees' recommendations.
Government measures are tardy, insensitive and highly bureaucratic so much so that reliefs announced have not been delivered to the people and sector for whom they are declared. The authorities have not undertaken village to village, farmer to farmer survey to understand the magnitude of the problem.
While cotton growing is the main head under which majority of suicides can be grouped, it is the cultivation of GM Bt Cotton Seeds distributed by Mahyco/Monsanto Combine that is responsible for the majority of suicides. Simple calculations will show that Monsanto seeds purchased at exorbitantly high prices can never be viable at the cotton procurement prices set by the government. Monsanto seeds have failed to give the hyped claims of higher yields and yet the authorites have not banned those seeds. In fact they are shamelessly promoting the GM culture.
Farmer indebtedness is already observed to be the main reason for low returns. Yet the authorties have not taken up study of extent of indebtedness. The authorites waste lot of money and energy in maintaining eleaborate records of many unessential data. Can it not take up total survey of bank and shahukar lendings and how they are not following the government regulations and stipulations on debt and debt servicing?
The matter is clear that the authorities are not concerned about unabated suicides rural India because their attention is glued to the increase in the GNP/GDP and rise in the sensex. Continued rural and agrarian crisis make no dent on government thinking.
Prakruti and Save Bombay Committee
More on farmer suicides: http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8479