By Dr Vandana Shiva — The Indian Express, 15 October 2015

Farmers harvest cotton in a field in Nana Viramgam village in Gujarat February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

Farmers harvest cotton in a field in Nana Viramgam village in Gujarat February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files


Instead of having to ask farmers to withdraw their agitation, CM Parkash Singh Badal should create conditions that they do not have to agitate.

When we became independent, Punjab was the most prosperous agricultural state, with five rivers, fertile soils, proud and hard working farmer cultivators.

Unlike the East, where Zamindari had turned the cultivators into landless peasants ,exploited by the zamindar on behalf of the British Empire, in the North Western Provinces, farmers movements had fought for farmers rights. Sir Chotu Ram as governor had passed the Land alienation Act, which protected the farmers land, home and cattle from alienation for debt. Preventing debt induced land alienation kept land in the hands of farmers. This was the secret to Punjab’s prosperity.

First the Green Revolution, and now the 2nd Green Revolution (GM crops like Bt cotton) have exploited the land and farmers of Punjab . I wrote my book ‘The violence of the Green Revolution’ for the United Nations University after the 1984 violence to understand why the green revolution, which had been given a Nobel Prize for Peace, had created conditions of violence in Punjab.

The reasons are clear. Punjab’s agriculture has been reduced to a market for chemical corporations, which are now the seed corporations. High cost seeds and chemicals are a recipe for debt creation. This is the first aspect of the agrarian crisis in Punjab today. Chemical agriculture is also very water intensive. It also reduces the capacity of the soil to hold water and needs more irrigation. It destroys soil fertility by destroying soil organisms which makes soil fertile. There are no earthworms, no mycorrhizal fungi that make humus. Punjab soil is degraded and dying. When soils die, they take with them the prosperity of society.


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A whitefly epidemic has devastated the Bt cotton crop in Punjab forcing farmers to use 10-12 sprays – each costing Rs 3200. This, in addition to the high cost of Bt seeds sold by Monsanto-Mahyco Biotech. In Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab, farmers growing non Bt, desi cotton have not been impacted by pests like Bt cotton has. And organic farmers in Punjab had no whitefly attack.

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Scientist and longtime activist against genetically modified BT seeds, Dr. Vandana Shiva, talks about why BT has a devastating fallout.

A sudden pest attack has ruined cotton crops in large parts of Punjab, bringing biotech, or BT Cotton back into focus. Farmers who used bio-fertilisers in the Malwa region of the state are said to be safe from this latest pestilence. But those growing BT cotton have lost everything. There are reports of farmer suicides. Dr Vandana Shiva, scientist and longtime activist against genetically modified BT seeds, talks about why BT has a devastating fallout, and the growing pressure from the seeds industry on Prime Minister Modi to change IPR laws in India. Edited excerpts of an email interview with Pragya Singh.

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By Dr Vandana Shiva —, 10 October 2015


Punjab’s experiment with Bt cotton failed, as the recent whitefly attack shows. It’s time we return to regenerative agricultural practices that are ecologically sound.

Fifteen farmers in the fertile belt of Punjab have committed suicide in recent days after whitefly pest devoured two-thirds of the state’s cotton crop, almost all of which is reportedly Bt cotton.

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By Dr Vandana Shiva — The Citizen, 9 October 2015

How many more farmers have to die, before Indian policy makers understand that Bt Cotton is a failed experiment?

Most of the 300,000 farmers suicides have taken place in the cotton belt which is now predominantly a Bt cotton belt. GMO Bt cotton was supposed to be a pest control technology that would replace pesticides. However Bt cotton has proven to be a pest creating technology, with epidemics of pests that never affected cotton in India before Bt cotton was introduced, illegally in 1998, and with GEAC approval in 2002.

Whitefly which never attacked cotton is now supposed to have devoured 2/3 of the Punjab Bt cotton crop.15 cotton farmers in the fertile belt of Punjab have committed suicide in recent days .

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