Going organic, being sustainable is a dire need of the hour, you absolutely need to know what you are eating and I’m just going to cover a piece of the pie. To be more specific this is an article about Genetically Modified food and how its affecting our lives at the moment.
Most of us know about BT-Cotton, I personally thought the BT stood for Bio Tech, but apparently it gets its name from, Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacteria that is commonly used as a biological alternative to a pesticide. So certain genes from the bacteria related to its defense mechanism are combined with the DNA of the Cotton plant.
What does this do? This provides the plant with a new defense mechanism against caterpillars, unfortunately, according to Vandana Shiva, a nuclear scientist, who kick started the organic movement in India, not only does this get the caterpillars but also the bees, butterflies and even cattle that have grazed on the fields have died. I hope you can comprehend that this shall have some if not a major effect, on the ecosystem.
Thankfully we have a thumbs up for the India government since we aren’t eating BT-Brinjal, can’t imagine what would happen to us if that was the case. But this seems to be taking a toll on the farmers more than anyone else, not just here but all around the world.
The farmer is bought over by advertisements to go in for BT-Cotton, he sees his favorite star telling him to expect 30% more yields. He buys the GM Seeds, and little does he know that BT-Cotton cannot grow in the monsoon, a little bit of weather shift and the crop is lost.
You need to have an irrigated field, which is written on the packet, tough luck for the uneducated farmer who now takes a loan to get a tube well or a pump. Surprisingly the BT-Cotton requires the same amount of pesticides as the normal amount of cotton and the seeds are sold at a premium rate. Not surprisingly Monsanto also manufactures the pesticides and herbicides the plants require to grow.
Unlike the normal cotton farmer, the BT-Cotton farmer has to buy seeds every year, the original cotton farmer just kept the seeds from his fresh crop for the next year.
What about the yield? In a 3-year in-depth study conducted by two scientists Dr Abdul Qayum and Mr Kiran Sakkhari who visited farmers fortnightly to keep track of how BT-Cotton works for them in Andhra Pradesh. The results would be extremely surprising if you believed in what Monsanto assured, traditional farming with conventional seeds work much better than their genetically modified versions.
BT-Cotton definitely has a role to play in the suicides of farmers, I was unable to find recent stats on the number of farmer committing suicide, but in 2009 there was one every 8 hours across the country – 17,368 farmer suicides were recorded in 2009 alone in India officially, unreported suicides push the number up much more.
Another unbelievable situation, sometimes pollinating agents end up infecting an organic farm with GM Pollen, which results in GM Seeds propagating. Recently Monsanto sued 1,500 farmers for possessing their patented seeds without buying them, the company won the lawsuit. Monsanto is the company that holds patents for majority of the GM seeds, they are affiliated with most of the seed providers in India to sell their seeds of destruction.
Here’s a full length documentary called, ‘The World According to Monsanto.’