Society 22 May 2015 15 1187
Indian farmers are struggling to make their cotton plantations pay a living wage. GMO seeds promised higher yields but turned out to be harder to grow. That has lead many farmers to rack up huge debts that they just can’t pay. In an alarming number of cases, worry and depression drive farmers to take their own lives, leaving their families to face a crippling financial burden.
Activists argue that GMO companies are responsible for the decline in Indian agriculture, leaving the farmers no way out.
India is home to a large and bustling cotton industry. However, in recent years the farmers are falling on hard times. Rising debts and loans impossible to pay back are causing widespread economic and emotional strain, and may be the cause of the recent wave of farmer suicides in these rural areas. RT Doc tries to get to the bottom of what’s going on with the Indian cotton industry.
Monsanto is an American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company. Among their main products are genetically-modified crops, or GME/GM crops. For some time now, Monsanto has been selling GM cotton seeds to farmers in India. They advertise them as being easy to grow and hardy, but the reality is somewhat different. Another problem is that GMO seeds are patented, so farmers are not allowed to store and re-plant them as they used to do with normal cotton seeds. As a result, Monsanto now enjoys a virtual monopoly of the cotton seed industry in the area.
GM seeds are much more expensive than traditional ones. The crop is supposed to offset this cost, but many farmers are finding that the genetically-modified seeds are not growing as advertised. While activists claim that through deceptive advertising and monopolistic tactics, Monsanto is bleeding the rural farmers dry.
To pay off their debts, many farmers are resorting to selling off their land or houses. Some of those who are worse off are even committing suicide in the wake of their enormous debts, as they apparently see no other way out.
Though presenting themselves as a friend of the farmer, it seems that Monsanto’s main goal is simply profit, and as a result of these genetically-modified seeds, the rural farmers of India are suffering.