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Even more alarming is the ecological damage. Native woods have
disappeared as the soya front has advanced. Sales figures suggest that
each year farmers are deluging the 10 million hectares of land under GM
cultivation with 80 million litres of herbicide.
This is killing off all forms of life except RR soya and is interrupting
the normal biological cycles of growth. The soil is turning into a kind
of cinder or sand - neither of which, says Rulli, can retain moisture.
Not surprisingly, the country is suffering from severe flooding.
In the past farmers used to grow soya in the summer and wheat in the
winter. The non-GM soya used to capture nitrogen from the air, helping
to retain the fertility of the soil.
JAKARTA - Though a battle between big business and environmental concerns in Indonesia has led to a monetary loss for publicly listed US agrochemical giant Monsanto for breaking US anti-corruption laws, there has been no loss of liberty for any of the company's US nationals involved in the corruption. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits bribing foreign officials and can lead to a maximum fine of $2 million per violation and up to five years' imprisonment.
St Louis-based Monsanto has been forced to pay $1.5 million in fines after owning up to spending more than $700,000 on bribes in a country where it has been losing money for the past few years, and one which has long been ranked one of the most corrupt in the world. The Department of Justice and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Monsanto with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing an Indonesian government official to waive a strict environmental requirement needed to plant the controversial genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in Indonesian soil.
Punjab and Haryana were at the forefront of the Green Revolution in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in which farm machinery, pesticides and fertilisers, irrigation and the replacement of traditional crops with high-yielding varieties dramatically increased productivity. The two states together now provide 80 per cent of the country's food surplus.
But the land is increasingly unable to support this burden of intensive agriculture. Crop yields--and water resources--are declining alarmingly, and some parts are close to becoming barren. Many farmers are heavily in debt from their investments in new equipment and reliance on chemicals, and rural unemployment is increasing. These are ominous signs of a deteriorating farm economy.
While Monsanto walked away with its first year profits from selling prohibitively expensive inferior seeds, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) in India gets ready to accord approval to yet another strain(s) of Bt cotton for the northwestern parts of the country and too after a hurridly conducted one-year of farm trials. Cotton farmers, in the bargain, have been left high and dry.
That in the very first year of commercial planting, Bt cotton should be faced with American bollworm attack (the insect against which it is supposedly resistant), is a clear pointer to the fact that the science/technology was not at all perfect. Bt cotton has also seen an increased infestation of other sucking pests. The crop came under an increased attack of wilt disease and of course has proved to be a water guzzler. And as far as the economics is concerned, it has gone wrong everywhere.