Famished road paved with Monsanto's hype (19/4/2006)

FAMISHED ROAD PAVED WITH MONSANTO'S HYPE (excerpts only)... the journey begins...

*Monsanto to launch new cottonseed in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra
*Bollywood star Monsanto's ambassador in Vidarbha
*Death Along the Famished Road - cataclysmic tales of deprivation and despair wreaked by Bt cotton
*Most farmers who commit suicide grew Bt cotton
*Murdered by Monsanto
*Destitute and dying on India's farms

Monsanto to launch new cottonseed in the Vidarbha region of India
May 16, 2005
Source: The Hindu Businessline via Checkbiotech

Monsanto, the multinational seed company, has launched a new variety of genetically modified (GM) cottonseed - Bollgard - in the Vidarbha region. It claims to be resistant to bollworms, a known crop pest. The product also promises to increase yield dramatically.

Monsanto has appointed Bollywood actor Nana Patekar as its brand ambassador for promoting Bollgard. He has held farmers rallies for promoting Bollgard in the region.

Patekar said, "From the product literature, I am convinced that Monsanto seeds will give a higher yield to farmers. There are many misconceptions about the seeds. But if the benefits are more, then we should use these seeds."

Nana Patekar to launch 'Bollgard Kisan Vigyan Jyoti'
MONSANTO: Press Release
Mumbai, April 28, 2005

Well-known film star, Nana Patekar will launch the 'Bollgard Kisan Vigyan Jyoti' programme in Aurangabad on Friday, April 29, 2005. Planned to celebrate the revolution that Bollgard has brought to cotton farming and the benefits that it brings to Indian farmers, this promotion is sponsored by Mahyco Monsanto Biotech. (MMB)

In addition to addressing farmer meetings in Aurangabad and Jalgaon, Mr.Patekar will tour the Maharashtra countryside, spreading his message among rural audiences.

Death Along the Famished Road
Sonia Faleiro
Tehelka, December 17, 2005

Sonia Faleiro ventures into the hinterland to discover cataclysmic tales of deprivation and despair wreaked by Bt Cotton cultivation.

...This year has been the worst for Vidarbha's farmers since the first farmer's suicide seven years ago. In 2004, up to 80 percent of cotton growers harvested BT, genetically modified seeds produced by a company called Monsanto. Recalls Hardikar, 'When actor Nana Patekar, the brand ambassador of Monsanto, toured this region last year to promote BT, his public meetings had a huge impact. Farmers went for BT in a big way. But it boomeranged badly.'

The seeds, with a starting price of Rs 1,600 (the hybrid variety cost Rs 450 a packet), have demonstrated no sustainability in the parched environment of Vidarbha. This year, the fungal infection Lal Rog struck the fields. Stretches of land in Yavatmal appear a hazy crimson in the distance. From close quarters, the withered cotton, branches red in colour, make for an eerie sight. In the shadow of each failed harvest, stands an entire family, emaciated and hungry.

'Monsanto's claim that a test application would involve minimum pesticides and maximum yield has proved fatal,' says Kishore Tiwari, president, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.

Most farmers who committed suicide were Bt cotton growers: VJAS Yavatmal Maharashtra
Webindia123, India, January 02, 2006

The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) has alleged that 170 cotton growers from Western Vidarbha, who had opted to sow Bt cotton of a US-based seeds company, had committed suicide during the period from June to December last year.

As many as 212 farmers in Vidarbha had committed suicide during the period of whom 182 were from Western Vidarbha, VJAS president Kishore Tiwari said in a statement here today. Among the 182 suicides in Western Vidarbha, 170 were by Bt cotton growers, the statement alleged.

Over six lakh farmers from Vidarbha had sown Bt cotton on the assurance that the minimum yield would be 20 quintals per acre, the statement said. However, the average yield per acre was only two to three quintals per acre, the statement alleged.

The VJAS proposes to initiate legal action against the US-based seeds company demanding compensation for farmers who had been ''misled by false assurances'', the statement said.

Good Friday - Murdered by Monsanto? (14/4/2006)

Last night 5 more cotton farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra's cotton growing region of Vidarbha, taking the total to 443 farmers in the growing season since June 2005.

The majority grew Bt cotton which was promoted to poor farmers in India using false and misleading claims as well as unethical practices. (see EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK - THE MARKETING OF BT COTTON IN INDIA)

Just how disastrous Bt cotton proved for Vidarbha's desperate farmers was revealed by a recent study in Maharashtra which showed the incomes of Bt cotton farmers were 68% lower than the incomes of non-Bt cotton growers.

Meanwhile, a s

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