By Dr. Vandana Shiva
More Desperate Science from Monsanto & Co. about Bt. Cotton in India Empowering Women
In yet another example of the desperate “science” of Monsanto and company, it is now being argued that Bt. cotton has liberated Indian women in the region of Vidharbha, Maharashtra which records the largest acreage under Bt. cotton and highest rate of farmer suicides. High costs of GM seeds and pesticides lead to debt, debt leads to suicides, creating Bt. cotton widows, not liberated “housewives,” writes Vandana Shiva.
Monsanto introduced its genetically engineered Bt. cotton in India illegally in 1997-98. As a result of a case fought in Supreme Court by the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, Monsanto Mahyco were not able to sell their Bt. cotton seeds commercially until the 2002 planting season. Since then, Monsanto has established monopoly in the cotton seed market through licensing arrangements with Indian seed companies and “intellectual property rights”. In India Bt. cotton = Monsanto.
Further, since the establishment of seed monopolies and creation of dependence of farmers on seeds that must be bought every year, and increasing dependence on agrichemicals, the cotton areas have become zones of deep indebtedness for farmers. And un-payable debt is pushing farmers to suicide. Most of the 200,000 farmer suicides in India are in the cotton belt of Maharashtra, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and most cotton is now Monsanto’s Bt. cotton. Instead of addressing the crisis it has created, Monsanto continues to offer a “spin” of Bt. cotton miracles.
In yet another example of the desperate “science” of Monsanto and Company, it is now being argued that Bt. cotton has liberated Indian women in the region of Vidharbha, Maharashtra which records the largest acreage under Bt. cotton and highest rate of farmer suicides. Arjunan Subramanian of HRI Warwick, Dr. Kerry Kirwan, Professor David Pink and Martin Qaim have put out a paper which says that Bt. cotton produces massive gains for women’s employment in India. This is one more in a line of earlier papers by Martin Qaim giving a spin that Bt. cotton is creating miracles even while hundreds of thousands of Bt. cotton farmers commit suicide. Arjunan Subramanian is Qaim’s student and Qaim represents Monsanto & Co. Every “study” done by him is public relations for Monsanto. The present paper is no different.
Every level of the paper is fraudulent. First, the argument that women have been empowered because of the introduction of Bt. cotton.
This is false on many grounds. Firstly, women have traditionally been seed keepers and seed breeders. The knowledge and skills related to seed conservation and seed breeding have been women’s expertise. The seed economy was a women’s economy. As long as seed was in women’s hands, there was no debt and no suicides. Women have acted as custodians of the common genetic heritage through the shortage and preservation of grain. In a study of rural women of Nepal, it was found that seed selection is primarily a female responsibility. In 60.4 percent of the cases, women alone decided what type of seed to use, while men decided in only 20.7 percent. As to who actually performs the task of seed selection in cases where the family decides to use their own seeds, this work is done by women alone in 81.2 percent of the households, by both sexes in eight percent and by men alone in only 10.8 percent of the households.
Read full post at GM Watchf Vidharbha.