1.Killer Bt Cotton fails again in Vidarbha
2.Farmer suicides in Vidarbha
1.Killer Bt. Cotton fails again in Vidarbha  
Narendra Ch  
Merinews, 19 October 2008

THE KILLER Bt.cotton has once gain failed in the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra as 60 per cent of the standing crop which was earlier affected by the mealy bug has now been destroyed by a "Lalya attack" that suddenly appeared in rain fed areas where standing Bt. cotton crop gets completely damaged.

The helpless farmers vexed with the government's lack of initiative are now threatening to go on a "fast unto death" agitation from October 26 demanding immediate action at least by opening centres for procurement to stop falling prices.

Meanwhile, nine more suicide by farmers has been reported in the last three days. This year the damage is much larger as areas under Bt.cotton cultivation is under more than 12 lakh hectares and losses are to the tune of Rs.2000 crore. All victims of farm suicides belong to backward Dalit and tribal families who were in debt and in acute financial crisis due to sudden crop failure.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishor Tiwari said the government also failed to come to the rescue of the farmers by providing remunerative price to their remaining crops. According to him in the last fortnight cotton prices have fallen from Rs.3200 per quintal to Rs.2300 per quintal and local traders have started cotton procurement below the minimum support price MSP.

He said the farmers are forced to sell the cotton at throw away prices in distress sales as the Maharashtra government failed to start its procurement centres on October 2 as announced earlier. In addition, there is no action at the level of the state run cotton marketing federation to start its centres before Diwali. He said that cotton growers will face huge losses resulting in more suicides in Vidarbha.

He said that if the government failed to procure the farmers' cotton at MSP then its move to raise the MSP would be ridiculed and will create more complications to the existing agrarian crisis.
2.Farmer suicides in Vidarbha
[taken from GMWatch's Weekly Watch 261]

Dr Julian Little of the biotech industry's Agricultural Biotechnology Council wrote to the Independent on Sunday to say Charles's claims [of suicides amongst Indian farmers growing GM crops] were emotive and not based on facts. So here are some facts for Dr Little to ponder.

*Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti, the farmers' NGO on the ground in Vidharbha, has consistently reported that it is Monsanto-Mahyco's Bt cotton that the majority of cotton farmers have been growing in Vidarbha who've taken their own lives. Vidarbha is the main cotton belt of Maharashtra - the state in India where there has been the biggest uptake of Bt cotton by farmers.

*The failure of Bt cotton in the main cotton growing area of Vidarbha has even been confirmed by the (pro-GM) Maharashtra agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat.

*Aruna Rodrigues, who led the recent public interest lawsuit to stop GM releases in India, included data on the suicide problem among Bt cotton farmers in sworn evidence before the Supreme Court of India.

*The terrible problems with Bt cotton have also been attested to by the world-renowned Indian development journalist Palagummi Sainath from his on the ground investigations and from official reports.

P Sainath has called the impact of Monsanto in Maharashtra "devatstaing" and the hyping of expensive Bt cotton seed to debt-laden farmers there who are overwhelmingly cultivating cotton in dry unirrigated conditions, "murderous... stupid... killing."