Have you heard the philosophical question asking, would you continue to live your life as you do now if we faced certain doom in a short time—a year, four years, half a lifetime?
For some, the answer is no. This is what evidence suggests as farmers commit suicide in Uttaranchal, a state in the far northeast of India on the southern slope of the Himalayas.
More than 10,000 farmers are believed to have committed suicide in India in the past five years, and awareness of the problem of farmer suicides has been spreading around the world for decades. Farmers in northern India are encouraged to use branded seeds from trans-national corporations, seeds requiring particular chemicals to grow (pesticides and fertilizers) and seeds that can’t be saved for the next year’s crop—saving seeds considered “backward” by their government agricultural network.
To save the farmers from being traditional and backward, the government offers a plan to transition to soyabean monofarming. Most of the farmers resist this as they try to maintain the biodiversity of the region. Some farmers, however, have been seduced by promises of short-term gain from the trans-national corporation’s seeds. Many of those farmers found themselves trapped in a situation where their yield is not enough to allow them to buy the required chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
NGOs and organizations emphasizing sustainable agricultural methods see hope in traditional crops grown for organic markets in India’s urban areas, but this comes after the debt and despair leading to more than 10,000 farmers’ suicides.
- Read the full story on farmer suicides in Uttaranchal at Common Dreams, posted yesterday. (Article no longer available.)
- This is not a new story. Farmer suicides have been recognized for years as a major problem in India, Australia, the UK, Canada, and the US. “The Number One cause of death for farmers in the United States is suicide!” Some suicides are related to general stress disorders, others to mad cow, but by far the heaviest burden is in India due to agri-business practices.
- The idea of organic farming as a solution is not new, either. (Article no longer available.)
- For big picture stories on farmer suicides, read an article by Dr. Vandana Shiva, “The Suicide Economy of Corporate Globalisation“ and watch a 13-minute PBS Frontline program from last year on “Seeds of Suicide: India’s desperate farmers.”
How can we allow ourselves to go down a path where those whose life-sustaining work in the fields despair? Surely I’m not the only one to see the nasty irony in Monsanto’s suicide seeds or terminator seeds and their broad effects as well as other ills of corporate agri-chemistry driving farmers to their own suicides.
I guess some people don’t want better living through chemistry.
What to do? Join the Organic Consumers Association and other organizations that support traditional, sustainable agriculture and make your voice for clean agriculture known to those who can support in locally, nationally, and internationally.