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buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, this means the difference between life and death. Monsanto has admitted soaring debt was a 'factor in this tragedy'. But pointing out cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as 'untimely rain' or drought, and pointed out suicides have always been part of rural Indian life. Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds - no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics. (A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is 'only double' the price of 'official' non-GM seed - but admitted the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by 'unscrupulous' merchants, who often also sell 'fake' GM seeds which are prone to disease.) Cruelly, it's the young who are suffering most from the 'GM Genocide' - the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these 'magic seeds'. Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high. The Indian peasantry, the largest body of surviving small farmers in the world, today faces a crisis of extinction. Two thirds of India makes its living from the land. The earth is the most generous employer in this country of a billionwhich has farmed this land for more than 5000 years. However, as farming is removed from the earth, the soil, the biodiversity, and the climate, are now linked to global corporations and global markets, and the generosity of the earth is replaced by the greed

'Illegal' or 'non-royalty' Bt cotton seed packet. With no manufacturer's name or address on it. Dubious inpits are a major threat to farmers this season. However, the risks with 'legal' Bt are no less. (Photo by P Sainath)

of corporations, the viability of small farmers and small farms is destroyed. Farmer’s suicides are the most tragic and dramatic symptom of the crisis of survival faced by Indian peasants. 1997 witnessed the first emergence of farm suicides in India. A rapid increase in indebtedness was at the root of farmers taking their lives. Debt is a reflection of a negative economy, a losing economy. Two factors have transformed the positive economy of agriculture into a negative economy for peasants - the rising costs of production and the falling prices of farm

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commodities. Both these factors are rooted in the policies of trade liberalization and corporate globalization. In 1998, the World Bank's structural adjustment policies forced India to open up its seed sector to global corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, and Syngenta. The global corporations changed the input economy overnight. Farm saved seeds were replaced by corporate seeds which needed fertilizers and pesticides and could not be saved. As seed saving is prevented by patents as well as by the engicontinued on page 29

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