In 2003, 17,107 Indian farmers committed suicide. Many attributed this to the failure of the genetically modified cottonseeds the farmers purchased from the giant corporation, Monsanto, to produce a crop. Faced with massive debt and humiliation, many of these farmers even used Monsanto’s Round-Up weed control to kill themselves.
Ten years later, Indian farmers are still facing low yields for cotton crops and high suicide rates. Global Research reports the death toll from what some have dubbed the “GM Genocide” is more than 200,000. To make matters worse, the widows of these farmers have now inherited the debt and many have had to pull their children out of school to help on the family farm.
According to The New York Times, Monsanto’s cotton is India’s only genetically modified crop but accounts for 95 percent of the cotton farms in the country.
Monsanto’s genetically modified cottonseeds were first introduced to India in 2002. The Indian government promised cotton farmers high yields after reviewing data provided by Monsanto, which many suspect was altered. Monsanto offered them the seeds at a low price, but after a low yield, farmers found it hard to pay back what they owed. Monsanto then increased the price of their seeds. Global Research reports that Monsanto’s GM cotton costs $15 for 100 grams versus the $15 for 1,000 grams the farmers were used to paying for regular cotton.
Although most people don’t think twice about putting on a cotton T-shirt in the morning, cotton is an increasingly unsustainable fabric. Genetic modification of cottonseeds has become commonplace.
Bacillus thuringiensis genes are inserted directly into the cotton to combat cotton’s number one enemy, the boll weevil. BT cotton accounts for 69 percent of the total worldwide cotton crops, most of which is sold by Monsanto.
Monsanto is not the only company participating in the genetic modification of seeds, but they are the largest, owning 90 percent of the world’s patents on GM seeds. Recently, Monsanto has been defending itself for having numerous government employees on their payroll as well as the passing of the Monsanto Protection Act, which shields the company from various types of litigation connected to their GM products. Monsanto’s continual control of government employees interferes with many of our government agencies’ main jobs: protecting consumer safety.
Although no one can be 100 percent certain that the high rate of suicides should be attributed to Monsanto, in 2010 government officials in India admitted that the BT cottonseeds were a failure.They warned that they would likely not produce the crops they had hoped for.
Farmers are also paying high prices to fertilize the BT cotton crops. According to Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, BT cotton requires 15 percent more fertilizers to grow successful crops. This is also causing a depletion of natural nutrients in the soil, making it harder for future crops to grow.
Marketing agencies often claim that cotton is “the fabric of our lives,” but Monsanto is using it to take lives. Next time you reach in your closet, make a conscious choice – choose humanity over fashion.
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