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At last count, over a quarter of a million poor farmers in India have committed suicide. They take this desperate step because they can no longer provide for their families. Many experts place responsibility at Monsanto's door.
Why is Monsanto seen as responsible for these farmers’ deaths? The company began selling Bt cotton in India in 2004, after a U.S. challenge at the WTO forced India to adopt seed patenting, effectively allowing Monsanto to monopolize the market. Bt cotton seeds were — and still are — advertised heavily to illiterate Indian farmers, who have bought the company’s promises of high yields and the material wealth they bring. What the farmers didn’t know until it was too late is those seeds require an expensive regimen of pesticides, and must be fertilized and watered according to precise timetables. And since these farmers lack irrigation systems, and must instead depend on not-always-predictable rainfall, it’s incredibly difficult to control the success or failure of any year’s crops. The weather is changeable at the best of times. Now, with climate change - well, you can imagine. But local people ARE pushing back! They want to return to time-tested methods of growing crops, with their own, locally adapted seeds. The shy determination of one farmer's daughter to become a journalist and let the world know what's happening, PLUS the buoyantly determined Indian activist VANDANA SHIVA provide a modicum of hope.
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Last Sunday Cinema at Finley Grange focuses on food issues. 7pm. 1510 Big Valley Road (east off Highway 29 at Highland Springs Rd, then one block and turn right on BV Rd.). FREE, with free organic popcorn! Info: firstname.lastname@example.org