Jeff Kirkpatrick – Ban GMOs Now
What does the NAS report on GMOs have to do with Indian farmer suicides? Everything.
First: More criticism of the absurd National Academy of Sciences’ report (‘GMOs are dreamy, wonderful things that are safe and not harmful to the environment’ – Our Motto “We don’t look, so we don’t see”)
“GMOs Safe to Eat, Says Research Group That Takes Millions from Monsanto,” by Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams; May 18, 2016
“New GE report misses its own point,” by Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Pesticide Action Network; May 26, 2016
My comment: It is time to refer to the NAS report for what it truly is: a veiled advertising/propaganda promotional tool for GMOs (see my post GMO News Summary and More: May 25, 2016 – Ban GMOs Now). Criticisms of the report that don’t recognize this first and foremost are lacking an essential and critical point. What is the point of writing reviews of the report if one is going to dance lightly around by starting from the premise that this report is somehow legitimate science? It is not. Any author that considers this as a legitimate report and goes from there has been fooled into thinking this is a genuine scientific assessment of GMOs – because it most definitely is NOT. It is pure crap and it should be regarded as such.
I don’t have patience for propaganda disguised as scientific authority. It’s time for anti-GMO authors to drop the ‘kindness’ approach to this utter nonsense. The world and future generations don’t have the luxury of time to waste anymore. Tolerance and patience for reports like this (that are essentially pure bullshit) should be discarded: the NAS deserves the harshest possible criticism for promoting a propaganda tool veiled as science. Take the gloves off, and see it for what it is and report it for what it is; to do anything else is a disservice to the public.
Given that the report is nothing more than a propaganda tool to promote GMOs, it is necessary to emphasize how GMOs have been forced into countries like India, and to acknowledge the extreme socio-economic and sociological impacts of efforts to promote GMOs. In essence, the NAS is doing just that: the only way to talk about the benefits of GMOs is to either use disinformation or lie outright. The NAS report does both.
How will this report influence US policies? By furthering the promotion of products that are destroying ecosystems and destroying lives. Make no mistake: GMOs should be banned.
Suicides in India (Don’t worry, GMO sociopaths supporters assure us that the suicides in India have been ‘debunked’)
“Monsanto and the Indian farmer suicides,” [Video] by Deutsche Welle (DW.COM); May 26, 2016
Let’s go a little more with this subject, shall we?
Farmers’ Lives Matter – Punjab –YouTube (2:00) published by Indra Shekhar Singh on October 22, 2015
Description: Recently Punjab has lost 90-95 percent of its Bt Cotton to a common pest, the whitefly. 12-15 sprays of chemical pesticides have failed to control pests. An agrarian crisis now looms over the state, as farmers continue to commit suicide and police are killing protestors with bullets.
Bt Cotton Seeds of Suicide –YouTube (7:56) published by Indra Shekhar Singh on December 15, 2015
Description: Navdanya travels to the cotton growing Malwa belt of Punjab to report the damage done by the whitefly on Bt cotton in October 2015. Despite spraying pesticides 10- 15 times, 1.2 million acres of cotton was destroyed by the whitefly, a common pest. This short film is an attempt to make the pain of the Bt Cotton farmers be heard and make the lives our farmers’ lives matter.
Film and production by Shaani and Indra Shekhar Singh; Edited by Roanna Rahman
Yield | Testimonies on the suicides of Indian farmers from Vidarbha – YouTube (18:30) published by Tadpole Artists Collective on July 27, 2014
Description: Commissioned by the 2014 Food Safety and Sustainable Agriculture Forum, YIELD presents testimonies from the cotton farmers in Vidarbha, Maharashtra. The region has suffered a high number of suicides among the debt-ridden farming community in the wake of the introduction of chemical farming and BT Cotton. YIELD presents voices of dissent and resilience from within this community, victims of a corporate imperialism that threatens their means of living and future.
100% Cotton. Made in India: Farmers commit suicides after planting GMO cotton – YouTube ( 26:36) published by RT Documentary on May 22, 2015
Description: An estimated 290,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in 20 years. Small farms were once the country’s economic backbone but now, owners struggle to make even a meagre profit and drown in debt. For some, the pressure is too much. Many blame GMO cotton for the failing farms, having cornered the market and replaced organic crops; they have failed to live up to expectations.
“Bt Cotton Directly Linked to Indian Farmer Suicides in Rain-Fed Areas,” by Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghji, Institute for Science in Society; July 14, 2015).
Excerpt: Bt crops were introduced to India in 2002 and by 2012 there were more than 1128 Bt hybrid varieties grown on 92 % of cotton growing areas. They are promoted on the basis of reducing pesticide use but despite initial declines, insecticide use in 2013 reached 2000 levels while yields have plateaued nationally and farmer suicides increased in some areas. Industry has also promoted the use of insecticides and farmers, in order to avoid crop failure, likely applied increasing quantities of pesticides that do not boost yields but may instead increase ecological disruption and risk of crop failure. Industry has exploited this information gap to sell their Bt crops and insecticides. With the sustained use of insecticides added on to the costs of expensive Bt cotton seeds, farmers have been pushed into further economic distress.
“The social and economic impacts of GMOs,” by Greenpeace Europe, April 2008 (2 pages)
Excerpt: Ecological systems cannot be fooled: if a pest or weed species is removed from the food web, another moves in to replace it. In India in 2007 the cotton harvest was either not effective against Indian cotton pests or devastated by a ‘secondary’ pest that was not deterred by the Bt toxin in GM cotton planted. This meant that farmers who had paid premium prices for the GM Bt cotton seeds had, if they could afford it, to apply extra pesticides to combat this secondary pest. In the first nine months of 2007 over 800 cotton farmers in India committed suicide, deeply in debt and in despair at not being able to provide for their families.
“10 Years of Bt Cotton: False Hype and Failed Promises Cotton farmers’ crisis continues with crop failure and suicides,” by Coalition for a GM Free India; 2012 (8 pages)
“Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and the Agrarian Crisis in India,” by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ), NYU School of Law; 2011 (53 pages)
Excerpt: A majority of cotton farmers in India invested in this new, genetically modified cotton, as evidenced by the rapid increase in Bt cotton cultivation. In just one year, from 2005 to 2006, the number of hectares under Bt cotton cultivation jumped 260 percent from 1.26 million to 3.28 million hectares.64 By 2009, 85 percent of cotton produced in India was Bt cotton; in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, the figure is as high as 95 percent. These farmers believed that genetically modified pesticide in the seed would allow the cotton crop to survive bollworm infestations, resulting in higher yields, decreased instances of crop failure and, ultimately, in greater economic security for their families.
For farmers such as Vithal Bhindarwa, however, investing in Bt cottonseeds did not lead to economic security. Hoping to provide a better life for his wife and children, Bhindarwa purchased these higher-priced seeds through loans in excess of Rs. 28,000 [US$566 in 2008] both from the State bank and from private moneylenders. When his crop failed in 2008 as a result of unpredictable weather conditions, Bhindarwa was unable to pay back his loans and took his own life by swallowing rat poison, leaving his 22-year-old son, Gajanan, as the head of the family. Bhindarwa’s story is not uncommon: for too many farmers, investing in Bt cottonseeds has not led to greater financial security, but has instead contributed to their financial distress. The reason, as explained below, is that Bt cottonseeds demand even more of two resources that are already scarce for many farmers: money and water.
Bt cottonseeds often cost at least double what non-Bt seeds cost and there are reports of Bt cottonseeds costing up to ten times as much. Furthermore, the multinationals that sell these Bt cottonseeds only allow them to be sold as hybrid cultivars, which prevents farmers from replanting seeds the following year. To afford such expensive yearly inputs, many farmers have to take out extensive—and often multiple—loans. Many smallholder farmers resort to community moneylenders, who oftentimes charge high interest rates.
My Comment: GMO advocates dispute facts in every way: they deny science, facts, and evidence. Indian farmer suicides are no exception. The problem is that they have a personal dispute with reality.
Sociopaths don’t care if people are killing themselves.
GMOs are an expression of greed, driven by greed, created by greed: corporations driven by profit have no morals and they have no compassion; there is nothing human about them.
Reports like the one published by the NAS that give a nice rosy picture about GMOs which deny reality and which fail to mention any substantial evidence (that is provided to them) are clearly nothing but a tool for the biotech industry.
It is time to be absolutely fed up with the whole issue of lies and disinformation and outright denial. I cannot understand why some authors who criticized the report ‘tippy-toed’ delicately around the subject: the report is a lie, published by liars, and it should be treated as such. The consequences of the publication of that report have yet to be established – but they will. The NAS is guilty of propaganda and the manifestation of that will result in great harm: they should be criminally charged.
“Farmer Suicides and Bt Cotton Nightmare Unfolding in India,” by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Institute of Science in Society; January 6, 2010
“Monsanto has control over 95 % of the Indian cotton seed market and this near monopoly has resulted in greatly increased prices. It has claimed to have led to high levels of indebtedness among farmers. In India, [over] 250,000 farmers died by suicide over the past 15 years.” (See: “Feeding the World: Genetically Modified Crops Versus Agricultural Biodiversity,” by Sven-Erik Jacobsen et al, Agronomy for Sustainable Development, Vol. 33, Issue 4; Oct. 2013 – 12 pages).
“From Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Why Are Indian Farmers Committing Suicide and How Can We Stop This Tragedy?” by Vandana Shiva, published by: The Huffington Post; May 25, 2011
“Monsanto and the Seeds of Suicide,” by Vandana Shiva, Common Dreams; March 23, 2013
Excerpt: “Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more.”
“Producing more, Conserving more, Improving farmers lives.”
These are the promises Monsanto India’s website makes, alongside pictures of smiling, prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. This is a desperate attempt by Monsanto and its PR machinery to delink the epidemic of farmers’ suicides in India from the company’s growing control over cotton seed supply — 95 per cent of India’s cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto.
Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life, especially the life of farmers.
Monsanto’s concentrated control over the seed sector in India as well as across the world is very worrying. This is what connects farmers’ suicides in India to Monsanto vs Percy Schmeiser in Canada, to Monsanto vs Bowman in the US, and to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty.
Through patents on seed, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” of our planet, collecting rents for life’s renewal from farmers, the original breeders.
Monsanto’s seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of super-profits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt.
An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton-growing states in India — “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”
“Seeds of Suicide,” by Vandana Shiva, Common Dreams; May 22, 2016
“Farmer suicides in rain-fed areas of India correlate with Bt cotton adoption,” by GMWatch; June 19, 2015
“Bt cotton responsible for suicides in rain-fed areas, says study,” by GMWatch; June 22, 2015
“Deconstructing Indian cotton: weather, yields, and suicides,” by Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Luigi Ponti, Hans R Herren, Johann Baumgärtner, and Peter E Kenmore, Environmental Sciences Europe, Vol. 27, No. 12; June 17, 2015
“Seed Monopolies, GMOs and Farmer Suicides in India – A response to Nature,” by Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya’s Diary; November 12, 2013
Excerpt: As a human being, it concerns me deeply that 284,694 small farmers of India, the most resilient and courageous people I have known, have in recent times been driven to the desperation of taking their lives because of a debt trap created by a corporate driven economy of greed that profits from selling them costly chemicals and non-renewable seeds. And we must not forget that the agrochemical industry is the biotechnology industry is the global seed industry.
I look at GMOs as a system of corporate control over seed, a system of Intellectual Property, a system of ecological impacts on soil and biodiversity, a system of health impacts on humans and animals, a system of socio-economic impacts on the livelihoods and survival of farmers.
GMOs are not a “thing”, they are a set of relationships, and it is the context created by these relationships that is driving farmers to suicide. GMOs are not a disembodied “technology” as so many pro-GMO commentators try to present. These commentators then proceed to protect this abstract construction of GMOs as disembodied technologies from the evidence of reality. In reality, what exists is a GMO complex, or nexus, that has an impact on real ecosystems and real farmers.
Shutting out evidence from reality is a completely unscientific approach. Reality cannot be cooked up in papers, no matter how prestigious the journals in which these concoctions are published. Reality is what happens in reality – the reality of farmers’ suicides, reality of the emergence of super-pests and super-weeds, the reality of rising costs of seed as royalties are extracted from poor peasants. These are no abstractions; rather, they are the lived realities of the consequences of GMOs.
“Monsanto, Rural Debt and the Suicide Epidemic in India,” by Belén Fernandez (Seven Stories Press), Truthout; October 10, 2013
Excerpt: Sustainability is also not the first word that comes to mind when contemplating Monsanto’s policy of sowing the earth with genetically modified seeds that destroy soil and are designed with nonrenewable traits so as to require constant repurchase as well as acquisition of a variety of other company products like fertilizers and pesticides.
Nor would the term appear to define a situation in which nearly 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide since 1995 after being driven into insurmountable debt by neoliberal economics and the conquest of Indian farmland by Monsanto’s Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton.
In tragic irony, many kill themselves by imbibing pesticides intended for their crops.
As for Monsanto’s shameless claim that one of its primary objectives is “to improve lives,” we might similarly conclude that butchers aim to improve the lives of cows and pigs and that two plus two is 86.
My Comment: GMOs do not exist in isolation. They are not objects separate and apart from the rest of existence: they harm the environment, they ruin lives. People eat them without knowing, and many eat them knowing they are but can’t afford alternatives – GMOs are inherently discriminatory towards the poor. The ONLY reason GMOs exist is for sociopathic corporations to make a profit for their heartless shareholders.
It is time to Ban GMOs Now.
It is time to stop treating groups like the NAS as genuine scientists when all they do is promote products with propaganda that will further the ecological destruction of the earth and continue to ruin lives. In the reviews that I have read, not one mentioned anything about how this report will be used as a propaganda tool to push GMOs further into the world with fewer regulations. Not one.
Not one report even ventured there: how will this report be used, and by which entities and to what end? The silence on this is deafening. People need to wake up – this is not just another ‘science’ report, or disinformation report: it is part of a greater strategy which will reduce democracy, increase corporate power of the food system, and decrease food sovereignty.
The NAS report is just another propaganda tool to be used in a greater objective, it should not be considered valid science – it should be perceived for what it truly is and criticized and judged accordingly.
Ban GMOs Now.
सत्यमेव जयते – Satyameva Jayate
(Truth Ultimately Triumphs)
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Copyright © Jeff Kirkpatrick 2016 Ban GMOs Now All rights reserved.