In India, farmers are killing themselves by swallowing the same pesticides used to protect their fields, but not before greedy global agribusiness kills their crops, their land, and their hopes.
In a speech for the BBC’s REITH LECTURES 2000, sustainable-development advocate Vandana Shiva relates the utter destruction she saw in the country’s Punjab region, which was once a richly productive farming region.
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Shiva says global agribusiness goaded Punjab farmers into abandoning their traditional crops for genetically engineered hybrid cotton — “white gold” which would make the peasant farmers rich. Instead, the farmers are now beholden to the company to get seeds at ever higher prices to replant crops.
Worse, the GE cotton is especially prone to disease and pests, and the volume of pesticides farmers must use have wiped out local pollinating insects like butterflies and bees. Now, without the insects, other crops are dying.