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


Margaret's Ramblings said...

I watched a programme on sky last night of how in the USA they have developed a technique to create food from chemicals by breaking down the dna and replicating it. They spoke so proudly of what they had done, of how it would help mankind's search through space. I just sat gobsmaked. All that money wasted. If they put the same amount of energy and money into helping the poor in our world feed themselves ....... well that would be truely something to be proud of.


equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Ah, Father, Didn't you know that this is the way its supposed to go? Survival of the fittest insures that the weak make room for the strong. Would you want these weaklings mucking up the gene pool and sucking up resources that rightfully belong to the innovators, the Monsantos of the world? Huh, wouldjya? Well, sure you would, your one of those people who actually take the teachings of Jesus seriously, silly boy.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

So old yet so naive Big Bear, that’s me... I tend to forget the golden rule; you know that one that says that those with the gold rule, but after visiting your blog over the last year or so I know that I am in good company because I am with those like you.


Julie said...

Dear Father Doodles - I saw your comment about leaving messages at the WWI cemeteries in France. I would love it if you could leave messages and poppies whenever you get to these cemeteries where my Scottish great uncles are buried: John Alexander (Jack)Munro, Feuchy Chapel British Cemetery, Wancourt France; and William Munro, Mailly Wood Cemetery, Mailly-Maillet, France. The message would be: In loving memory of (John Alexander or William) Munro, "At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them", Julie (Munro) Fredericksen, Bismarck, ND.

A third great uncle Archie, was gassed at Ypres. He died in 1921, never having fully recovered.

Andrew Clarke said...

This is utterly appalling to hear! And it shows what happens when corporate culture replaces the traditional way of doing things in farming communities. It's easy to see why the hippies of the 1960s wanted to step back from it all, although they seemed to dissipate by becoming directionless and hedonistic rather than pursuing a way of life as traditional farmers do. God help us! It will end sometime.