This is Vandana Shiva’s essay describing her story of Indian farmers committing suicide due to the financial effects of having to use GMO crops. Shiva states that 200,000 farmers in India have killed themselves since 1997. She places the blame on what she calls the “rapid indebtedness” that is taking its toll of the Indian peasant class. Two factors are involved here: one, that it is getting more expensive to produce food, and two, that food prices are falling. After the introduction of corporate-owned GM-seeds, farmers were unable to save their previous seeds, and the new designed seeds require chemicals and pesticides that are prohibitively expensive. Because the farmers have to essentially upgrade their seeds season after season, the extra expense of those purchases has begun to add up.
Shiva also mentions the dangers of monocultural farming, and how they have much higher failure rates than a more diverse system. She also relates that due to the World Trade Organization’s new free trade policies, food prices around the world have dropped, and these farmers simply can’t make enough to make up for it.
Vandana Shiva is described on her Huffington Post biography as a “Physicist, environmentalist, feminist writer, and science policy advocate.” She, for the intents of this essay, appears to be well-credentialed. Her essay describes a serious problem, but her connections to Monsanto and GMO in general have had many holes poked in them since. While she may be doing good spreading word of the plight of these farmers, to place the blame squarely on Monsanto is a little dangerous, and smacks of sensationalism for page views and speaking engagements.