Monsanto’s operation in India illustrates monopolization and manipulation of the market economy, tradition, technology, and misgovernance. The world’s largest producer of genetically engineered seeds has been selling genetically modified (GM) in India for the last decade to benefit the Indian farmers – or so the company claims.
In a country of more than 550 million farmers who are largely poor and uneducated and the agriculture market rife with inefficient business practices, the Indian government sought to reform the market by eliminating subsidies and loans to the farmers.
The government reform did not help the farmers. With pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Indian government has “forced market liberalization on India which means the elimination of government subsidies and government-backed loans to farmers.”
Enter Monsanto with its “magic” GM seeds to transform the lives of the poor Indian farmers.
The U.S. agri-business giant took full advantage of its entry into the Indian market. It entered into an agreement with state governments including Rajasthan and Andhara Pradesh to introduce a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that dictated the terms of disseminating the GM technology in Indian market.
For Monsanto, it is one thing to convince farmers to use artificial seeds for the purposes of enriching their lives, it is quite another to manipulate nature and technology to profit from them.
The irony is GM seeds have not been effective in India and the consequences are not as rosy as what Monsanto had promised to deliver. Scathing reports of mass suicides of Indian farmers broke out as recently as three years ago when scores of farmers took their own lives in order to escape the burden of high prices and failure of Monsanto’s GM seeds.
Monsanto offered its GM seeds to the farmers of India with hopes of reaping plentiful crops. Plain and mostly uneducated farmers thought Monsanto had come to provide a “magic” formula that would transform their lives. They had no idea what was coming.
Monsanto’s seeds in India did not produce what the company had promised and farmers hoped. The expensive seeds piled up debts and destroyed farming fields. In many instances, the crops simply failed to materialize. The farmers were not aware that the GM seeds required more water than the traditional seeds. And lack of rain in many parts of India exacerbated the crop failure.
With no harvest, the farmers could not pay back the lenders. Burdened with debts and humiliation, the farmers simply took their own lives, some by swallowing poisonous pesticides in front of their families. To date, an estimated 200,000 farmers have committed suicide all over India.