1.1,500 farmers commit suicide in India
2.GM at the elections

NOTE: Whatever the details of this latest tragedy turn out to be, the aggressive promotion of expensive Bt cotton to vulnerable debt-ridden dryland farmers is surely tantamount to murder.
1.1,500 farmers commit suicide in India
PressTV, 16 April 2009

*The Indian states where people heavily depend on agriculture are named the 'suicide belt'.

More than 1,500 farmers in central India have reportedly committed mass suicide in the wake of crop failure and increasing debt.

The suicides took place in the agricultural state of Chattisgarh, where people mainly depend on seasonal crops, Earth Magazine reported.

Local residents told the magazine that many of the farmers felt that death was the only option in the face of their insurmountable debt.

The state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels and droughts.

"Most of farmers here are indebted and only God can save the ones who do not have a bore well," residents said.

Bharatendu Prakash, from the Organic Farming Association of India, said the farmers fell victim to money lenders who impose their own conditions for lending.

"Farmers' suicides are increasing due to a vicious circle created by money lenders. They lure farmers to take money but when the crops fail, they are left with no option other than death," Prakash said.

At least 10,000 debt-ridden farmers in different parts of the country have committed suicide over the last decade.

A November survey revealed that 125,000 farmers have also taken their own lives as a result of a ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.

The government recently announced a $15 billion waiver of farmer loans; however, the waiver may not help a large number of farmers who have taken loans from private lenders.

The suicide issue was among those that dominated campaigning for the recent general election.
2.GM at the elections

Food for thought
Meena Menon
The Hindu, April 17 2009

Mumbai - While the Congress is silent in its manifesto on genetically modified crops, other parties have dealt with it in their own ways.

The BJP manifesto declares: "No genetically modified seed will be allowed for cultivation without full scientific data on long-term effects on soil, production and biological impact on consumers. All food and food products produced with genetically modified seeds will be branded as 'GM Food.'"

The CPI says: "With regard to GM crops/foods, we will take a precautionary approach and will demand a moratorium until all pending issues are resolved satisfactorily.

"Further, the CPI will demand a review of the Indo-U.S. Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA)."

The CPI (ML) too says: "No introduction of genetically modified (GM). Immediate stop to all field trials of GM crops."

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also targets the KIA. The Pattali Makal Katchi (PMK) says it will oppose all GM seeds and GM foods, and demand a moratorium on GM crop field trials, apart from opposing collaborations between MNCs and agricultural universities.

Even the manifestos of the TRS, the AIADMK and the MDMK have touched on GM food. Only one party seems silent.