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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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‘The Real Seeds of Deception’

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It’s a staple on social media and a commonplace on activist blogs: Thousands of Indian farmers have killed themselves because of GM seeds

There’s only one problem: it’s a fabrication. 

We’ve said it was a deception many times before, but it’s just too good of a story not to be repeated. It fits with the other myths constructed about GM crops. And if it helps to sell books and movies, well, that can’t be all bad, can it? 

A study by the Indian government said the claim wasn’t true. 

A review by the International Food Policy Research Institute said it wasn’t true. The U.K.’s Guardian reported on the IFPRI study here

A study by the Indian Institute of Management said it wasn’t true. 

But the story lives on, propelled by various activists and people on social media who seem uninterested in the facts. 

In January, a young journalist at the National Post in Canada set out to test the truth of the claim. And what did she find? 

“Linking suicides to GM seeds is simply not true.” 

Today, Keith Kloor posted an article at Discover Magazine entitled “The Real Seeds of Deception,” in which he describes what his own journalism class at New York University discovered about the suicide claim: 

It’s simply not true. 

The concern about Indian farmer suicides was first noted in 1995. Monsanto did not begin selling GM cotton seeds in India until 2002. 

Kloor also describes his conversation with Indian activist Vandana Shiva at one of her speeches and book signings. 

Kloor points out the real tragedy. Trying to pin the blame for the suicides on GM seeds diverts attention from the real causes of the problem.

And that’s a real seed of deception.

2 Responses to "‘The Real Seeds of Deception’"

  1. It is very clear that many things in agriculture, particularly so in Indian agriculture, are complex – this includes suicides, as much as it includes Yields. What is also clear is that we need sustainable technologies, based on sustainable science, incl. in the field of pest management (pesticides and Bt crops are both based on the same unsustainable science, whereas the science of pest management has evolved beyond what is being touted as great technologies). We also need technologies that are not risky – both in terms of risks (health/env) flowing out of the technology, as well as riskiness in terms of expenses incurred by farmers (incl. thru heavy borrowing) not being matched by returns. It is in that context that the role of Bt cotton has to be analysed. That is where regulation has a role to play. To be able to assess impacts in different situations for different communities and different categories of cultivators, and make the most vulnerable as the benchmark against which decision-making will happen.

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  2. In 1995, Monsanto introduced its Bt technology in India through a joint-venture with the Indian company Mahy­co.

    Monsanto didn’t invent suicide. But to pretend that there is no link is absurd.

    Reply

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