The cultivation of Monsanto's Bt cotton in Vidarbha - the main cotton growing belt of Maharashtra, India, last year resulted in disaster. Literally hundreds of farmers subsequently took their lives as a result of the total failure of the Bt cotton crop and their resulting debts.
One of the most disturbing aspects of what occurred is that Bt cotton was promoted to these farmers via a massive campaign of hype by Monsanto, which even brought a Bollywood star into Maharashtra to push its expensive and problem-prone seed. Equally disturbingly, the campaign of hype was backed up by the Government of Maharashtra.
According to the press release below, the hyping of Bt cotton to local farmers took place despite the demonstrable failure of the crop at the trial stage in Maharashtra and an admission from Maharashtra's Agriculture Minister that Bt cotton did not seem suitable for cultivation in the area. The Vice Chancellor of Vidarbha's only agricultural university has also urged farmers to avoid Bt cotton.
Despite this, not only has Monsanto been once again promoting Bt cotton in the area with big advertsiements in all Maharashtra's newspapers and on all its TV channels, but the Government of Maharashtra is also once again supporting the campaign of hype.
As VJAS - the pressure group for local cotton farmers - say in their press release below. The state government should have tried to get Bt cotton - the main killer of farmers in Vidarbha - banned. Instead the government is saying that it's looking to see Bt cotton cultivation double this year.
Kishor Tiwari of VJAS says the government's promotion of Bt cotton is another step down the path to suicide.
BT COTTON - THE MAIN KILLER OF FARMERS IN VIDARBHA - ONCE AGAIN ACTIVE: VJAS URGES GOVERNMENT TO STOP GM SEED PROMOTION
NAGPUR, 2ND JUNE, 2006:
VIDARBHA JANADOLAN SAMITI (VJAS) LOCAL PRESSURE GROUP OF COTTON GROWING FARMERS IN WEST VIDARBHA WHERE MORE THAN 540 FARMERS COMMITTED SUICIDES DUE TO COTTON CROP FAILURE AND DEBT-TRAP.
VJAS HAS ALREADY FILED PIL IN MUMBAI HIGH COURT AND MAHARASHTRA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION AGAINST US GENETICALLY MODIFIED (GM) BT-COTTON SEED MONOPOLY PRODUCER, AMERICAN COMPANY MONSANTO, [BECAUSE OF] ITS... FRAUDULENT CLAIMS OF 20 QUINTAL PER ACRE YIELD AND LESS USE OF PESTICIDES FOR PEST MANAGEMENT [WHICH HAS] FORCED MORE THAN 540... FARMERS WHO OPTED FOR GM SEED TO COMMITT SUICIDE...
PRESENTLY... ALL MARATHI NEWSPAPERS, MARATHI T.V. CHANNELS AND ALL INDIA RADIO STATIONS ARE GIVING MASSIVE ADVERTISEMENTS OF B.T. COTTON SEED, POPULARLY KNOWN AS "BOLLGARD". MONSANTO AMERICAN B.T. COTTON COMPANY IS GIVING SAME CLAIMS AND [THAT] IT CAN REMOVE ALL HARDSHIP OF COTTON GROWERS IN [A] YEAR. THE MASS CAMPAIGN OF B.T. COTTON SEED PRODUCER CAN BE JUSTIFIED BUT FROM LAST TWO DAYS GOVT. OF MAHARASHTRA HAS STARTED OFFICIAL PROMOTION OF B.T. COTTON SEED. AGRICULTURE MINISTER AND AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER OF MAHARASHTRA HAS ISSUED PRESS NOTE THAT MONSANTO HAS RESPONDED TO THEIR REQUEST AND REDUCED THE RATE OF B.T. COTTON SEED THIS YEAR SO FARMERS SHOULD OPT FOR IT FOR SOWING.
KISHOR TIWARI OF VJAS INFORMED IN A PRESS RELEASE TODAY, THE ACT OF GOVT. OFFICIALLY PROMOTING B.T. COTTON IS UNWARRANTED AS LAST YEAR'S EXPERIENCE OF VIDARBHA FARMERS WITH B.T. COTTON IS VERY BAD, KISHOR TIWARI ADDED.
IN MAHARASHTRA FOR KHARRIF SEASON 2005... WHEN RESULTS OF THIS B.T. COTTON TRIAL FAILED, THE AGRICULTURE MINISTER OF MAHARASHTRA OFFICIALLY ADMITTED THAT B.T. COTTON SEED IS NOT SUITABLE IN WEST VIDARBHA. DR.SUBHASH NIMBALKAR, VICE-CHANCELLOR OF P.K.V., THE ONLY AGRICULTURE UNIVERSITY IN VIDARBHA, HAS URGED THE COTTON GROWERS NOT TO OPT FOR B.T. COTTON AS IT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR DRY FARMING AREA OF VIDARBHA AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITION IS ALSO NOT SUPPORTING G.M. SEED. BUT... [THE] GOVT. OF MAHARASHTRA'S PRESENT STAND OF PROMOTING B.T. COTTON IS A STEP TO TAKING COTTON GROWERS ON SUICIDE PATH, KISHOR TIWARI ADDED.
[AFTER] THE SAME MAHARASHTRA GOVT. PAID RS.120 CRORE COMPENSATION TO THE 2.2 MILLION COTTON GROWERS OF VIDARBHA FOR THE TOTAL FAILURE OF B.T.COTTON, THEN IT WAS EXPECTED THAT THE MAHARASHTRA GOVT. WILL DEMAND TO CENTRAL GOVT. THAT G.E.A.C. BAN B.T. COTTON SEED IN VIDARBHA. BUT IN FACT THE GOVT. OF MAHARASHTRA HAS PROPOSED THE AREA TO BE COVERED BY SOWING B.T. COTTON SHOULD BE DOUBLE THIS YEAR AND GOVT. OFFICERS ARE PROMOTING B.T. COTTON SEED IN VIDARBHA, MAKING "B.T.CHOR" MORE ACTIVE THAN LAST YEAR. THIS WILL ADD MORE SUICIDES THIS KHARIF SEASON 2006, KISHOR TIWARI ADDED.
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