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Vandana Shiva on Indian Farmer Suicides

by: Jill Richardson

Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 18:41:37 PM PDT

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Monsanto's blog has a post up about Indian farmer suicides. Naturally, they say it isn't their fault. Well... since they brought it up, I decided to listen to Vandana Shiva on Democracy Now from December 2006 when she spoke on the subject. She kinda thinks it IS their fault.

I've attempted to transcribe the Vandana Shiva interview below, although I'll admit that I only got about half of it so I do recommend listening to the interview yourself. And - please - drop a line to your Senators telling them about the Indian farmer suicides and citing them as a reason to oppose S.384.

Jill Richardson :: Vandana Shiva on Indian Farmer Suicides
The following is a very rough transcription of the Amy Goodman interview with Vandana Shiva. I've left out a fair amount of it, paraphrased some of it, and hopefully got at least the most important bits of it word for word.

Shiva: Indian farmers have never committed suicide on a mass scale - it's totally new, limited to the last decade. The seed sector was liberalized to allow Cargill and Monsanto to sell unregulated untested seeds. They began with hybrids and moved on to genetically modified Bt cotton, which cannot be saved. The cotton belt of India has now become the suicide belt. The high cost of seeds is linked to the high cost of chemicals because they are designed to be used with chemicals, and they must be bought every year.

There's a case going on in India's supreme court right now on the monopoly practices of Monsanto. Anti-trust courts ruled against Monsanto because the costs are so high that farmers necessarily get into a debt trap.

In addition, the price of cotton is collapsing under the huge subsidies given to agribusiness in the U.S. which then dumps cotton onto the world market with a 50% price reduction (artificially). This is what is killing Indian farmers. Just 3 days ago farmers protesting against the low prices of cotton. They went to the government agency which before trade liberalization bought cotton at a fair price. One farmer was shot dead.

Goodman: These descriptions of desperation - up to 3 farmers a day swallow pesticides, hang themselves from trees, set themselves on fire, many of them plagued by debt.

Shiva: Mentioned a "Seeds of Suicide" report. Unfortunately, says Shiva, when the prime minister visited the region where the suicides occurred, he offered more of the same as a solution. A seed replacement package - which means what seeds farmers have get further destroyed.

A few weeks ago I was in Punjab with 2800 widows of farmers suicides who've lost their land and have to bring up children. They want to get Monsanto out of the seed sector and make trade honest. This has become a war against farmers, it's become a genocide.

Next Shiva speaks about the replacement of the traditional oils used by Indians - mustard, sesame, coconut - being replaced by cheap soy and palm oil from global sources that are grown at the expense of rainforests. They are so cheap that the mustard farmers can't even sell their products. They've had protests, and 12 farmers were killed in central India.

The WTO agreement on agriculture is basically putting all of the agriculture sector into ADM, Cargill, and Conagra and all of the seed sector into the hands of Monsanto.

The nuclear deal with India has a twin agreement, the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture. On the board of the agreement are Monsanto, ADM, and Wal-Mart.

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we're off to DC in the a.m. (4.00 / 5)
first vacation we've taken in a while. Going for the Cherry blossoms, the taste of spring to come, and the museums.

And of course, our old dog has taken a turn for the worse, just in time for us to go. But our son says it's okay, he can handle it.

If I can get in to see my senators Snow and Collins, I'll tell them in person. Or at least their staff.

Thank you, and see you all next Friday.

amazing, sounds wonderful (4.00 / 3)
Love visiting DC. Would be great if you could see your Senators, although they might be back home in Maine this week w the recess. But I'm sure you could talk to their staff?

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Someone named Vandana (4.00 / 3)
commented on the blog story.

Vote for yourself at!

Don't forget Lee Kyang Hae... (4.00 / 2)
The Korean farmer who scaled a fence outside the WTO conference in Sept. '03 and plunged a knife in his chest.

When the savings and loans collapsed in Iowa during the 1980's, much the same...

And in the aftermath, Monsanto and Sandoz snagged much of the remaining family owned seed corn production for pennies on the dollar.

I can't even read their blog, to be honest, pisses me off too much.

Monsanto, Sandoz, Dupont, Bayer, the conspiracy by the chemical giants to control global food production and pricing is well documented.

The courts just won't allow a class action against them.

I've posted two questions there and still no answers. So much for (4.00 / 2)
clarity and tranparency! Meh!

Sic Transit Gloria Locavore!

[ Parent ]
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