Influential natural farming advocate Subhash Palekar recently approved the use of Genetically Modified crops in his well-known “Zero Budget Natural Farming-ZBNF” method. In an equally startling interview, he described organic farming as “worse than the atom bomb.” Here, two veteran practitioners respond to Palekar, while reviewing the history of the Organic/Natural Farming movement in India.
From The Guardian: Cancer rates are the highest in the country, drug addiction is rife, and 900 farmers have killed themselves in two years. How did Punjab turn toxic? A new film explores the roots of its problems; ‘Toxification’ tells the moving stories of farmers at the sharp end of the chemical epidemic engulfing Punjab.
From IndiaSpend.com: Fifteen of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India, according to an analysis of air quality in several cities around the world by IQAir Group. Gurugram, in Haryana, topped the list with an average annual particulate matter (PM 2.5) quality of 135 g/m3 (micrograms/cubic metre), in 2018.
From The Sunday Guardian: The Delhi metropolitan area has one of the world’s highest concentrations of population, and suffocating people here on an annual basis should be treated as a crime against humanity, especially when it can be controlled. Arvind Kumar writes on the connection between USAID, Monsanto and Delhi’s nightmarish annual air pollution spike.
The pro-and anti-GMO positions will remain irreconcilably polarized as long as larger questions remain unexamined. What’s at stake here is much more than a choice about GMOs. It is a choice between two very different systems of food production, two visions of society, and two fundamentally different ways to relate to plants, animals, and soil.
Displacing pastoralists, displacing smallholder farmers, arresting and charging them as terrorists if they protest–and the land is given away to foreign investors to grow what? Sugar and cotton. Imagine trucks full of food aid coming into Ethiopia, while trucks full of cotton and sugar are leaving the country. Hunger in Africa is a political problem.
Colin Todhunter writes: Despite four high level government reports that have advised against adopting Genetically Modified crops in India, there are alarming reports of GM okra, soyabean & brinjal being cultivated illegally in thousands of acres. The industry’s strategy is to flood the country with illegal GMOs so that there’s nothing you can do about it.
Industrial farming, which gets all the attention (and most of the land), accounts for more than 80% of fossil fuel emissions and uses over 70% of the water supply in agriculture, actually produces only about 30% of the world’s food. It’s the diverse network of small-scale producers-the ‘Peasant Food Web’-that feeds 70% of the world.
From The Citizen: “Hitler used organophosphate gases to execute thousands in his gas chambers, we are now using the same to kill our farmers in the open fields,” said Kishor Tiwari on the recent deaths of more than 40 farmers from pesticide poisoning in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal. Tiwari heads a government task force for farmers’ welfare.
Colin Todhunter writes: At a time when India commemorates the end of British rule, it finds itself under siege from international capital. Its not only on course to become an even weaker and more hobbled state permanently beholden to US state-corporate interests, but it is heading towards environmental catastrophe much faster than many may think.
From The Indian Express: One of the most outstanding biological scientists in India and the founder director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB), Pushpa Mitra Bhargava was a perennial and powerful dissenter and never bowed down to authority. He was suffering from multiple health problems. He is survived by a son and a daughter.
Colin Todhunter writes in Countercurrents.org: A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs and a shift to cash crops (including GM-cotton) has caused massive financial distress to small farmers in India. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal now being negotiated by 16 countries across Asia-Pacific, could accelerate this process.
From Eartha Mag: The game of migrating farmers to GM seeds has a familiar marketing line: We cannot feed the millions without GMOs – the exact line they fed us in the 50s during the Green Revolution. With the government’s adamant attempts to introduce them without public consultation or scientific debate, Sandeep Anirudhan raises some basic questions.
Former Union Cabinet-Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian writes: The promises of higher yield and lower pesticide usage which induced many, including myself as the then Textile Secretary, to welcome Bt cotton have now been belied… The main advantage now trotted out in favour of GM mustard is increased yield—there’s sufficient evidence that this claim is a myth.
From The Indian Express: Each time with the GM debate, agro-business and biotech industry puts huge pressure on the Indian government to destroy food culture and replace many old nutritious-rich foods with by patented toxic monocultures. By threatening India with the GM Mustard, corporations are destroying the centre of diversity of mustard for the world.
GRAIN.org reports: The world’s largest transnational food companies are rolling out a programme promising “market-based” solutions in agriculture. Vietnam’s highlands are the showcase for ‘GROW’, a global initiative under the World Economic Forum. A closer look reveals the programme’s real objective: to expand production of a handful of high-value commodities to profit a few corporations.
Colin Todhunter writes: The real story behind GM mustard in India is that it presents the opportunity to make various herbicide tolerant (HT) mustard hybrids using India’s best germ plasm, which’d be an irresistible money spinner for the developers and chemical manufacturers (Bayer-Monsanto). GM mustard is both a Trojan horse and based on a hoax.
“Producing qualities that may give excellent results in the laboratory may be advantageous for some, but have ruinous effects for others. And the principle of caution is not enough, as very often it is limited to not allowing something to be done, whereas there is a need to act in a balanced and honest way.”
Gopi Sankarasubramani writes: The issue at hand is the impending approval of GM mustard in India. GMOs introduce irreversible, long term changes in the ecosystem that cannot be contained – any farm will be contaminated, because the farm next door has GMOs. With it, we risk permanently losing our 10,000 year-old inheritance of sustainable agriculture.
Whitney Webb reports: Farmers in India’s poorest region are recording record rice yields by growing organically, debunking once and for all the myth that GMOs are necessary to feed the world’s growing population… In Bihar, Sumant Kumar and his family produced an astounding 22.4 tons of rice on only one hectare of land, in 2013.