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.