Thursday, 23 April 2009
Greed + global warming = 1,500 farmers in India recently committing suicide, (did you know about it?)
This is a complex issue, there are several causes but in the main they are drought, international trade agreements, and policies of international loan agencies (IMF, World Bank). The global warming aspect has meant that for farmers in some areas the water level has gone down below 250 feet where it used to be at 40 feet a few years ago.
The lack of irrigation water will be further influenced by increased global climate change which is expected to raise the Indian Sub-continent temperatures by up to 4°C by 2100 according to a report in The Hindu. This is expected to cause major problems with the monsoon season that is so critical to crop growth and ground water replenishment.
The international trade agreements are mostly influenced by the transnational corporations. A trade agreement between the United States and India, the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), was backed by Monsanto and other transnational corporate giants.
The World Bank loans to the poor countries pave the way for the transnational corporations to take control and exploit local markets and natural resources. In 1998, the World Bank’s structural adjustment policies forced India to open its seed sector to transnational corporations. This allowed for the seizure of India’s seed sector by Monsanto, its trade sector by Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, and its retail sector by Wal-Mart.
As a result of this, traditional farm saved seeds have been replaced with genetically engineered seeds. Their precarious situation was aggravated as a result of the aggressive marketing and subsequent disappointing results of Monsanto GM Cotton seed, marketed as disease resistant and high-yielding, when in fact it turned out to be neither.
This GM cotton seed is sterile and cannot be saved. The farmers then have to purchase seeds for each growing season, which is a costly investment for them. In most cases this has led to poverty and severe indebtedness. In order to relieve themselves of debt, some farmers have even sold their own organs.
Cotton farmers in Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have defaulted on bank debt, and then become further indebted to illegal moneylenders. When these attempts have failed to rectify their financial situations, many farmers committed suicide.
According to the Indian National Crime Records Bureau records, there have been 166,304 farmers’ suicides in a decade since 1997 in India. Of these, 78,737 occurred in five years between 1997 and 2001. The next five years - from 2002 to 2006 – proved worse, seeing 87,567 take their lives. This means that on an average, there has been one farmer’s suicide every 30 minutes since 2002.
These suicides are an example of how global climate change and big business will affect the poorest in society first. Perhaps some of the shame of these farmers’ debts and suicides should be borne by those who over-consume and live for the bottom line only, while others actually pay the price.
For more information see HERE HERE and HERE
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 08:27