Greed evolution, not green revolution

Greed evolution, not green revolution
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Posted by Narasimha Reddy Donthi on July 20, 2011 at 10:30pm
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By Narasimha Reddy
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has once again reminded us of his often
repeated cliché: There is no alternative. At the recent 83rd Foundation Day
meeting of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, he said a second Green
Revolution is the answer to agricultural problems and food needs. He meant
there is no alternative. Green Revolution, a package of crop management,
started in mid-1960s. Experience has shown that Green Revolution is nothing
but chemicalisation of Indian agriculture.
In the last forty years, Indian agriculture has witnessed continuous
degradation of fertile soils, increase in salinity, increase in fallow acres,
chemical residues in foods, soil, water and vegetation, loss of traditional
seeds and biodiversity. And, increase in yield. But, then there was also
increase in investment costs, rising expenditure on health, depletion of
groundwater, contamination of water bodies and increase in ‘commercial
crop’ acreage.
With a whole set of ‘Green Revolution' policies pursued for the past seven Fiveyear plans, there was also an ‘evolution of greed’ – conversion of land, water
and vegetation into ‘cash’. Pesticide and chemical usage has become rampant.
Cancer has become extensive. In some rural areas, pollution is much worse
than a dense industrial area. Punjab, the model of Green Revolution, is now
reduced to run cancer trains from Bhatinda and Amritsar to New Delhi.
Nitrogen levels in the blood of a rural Punjabi is more than that is found in the
soil. Endosulphan has wrought havoc in the lives of people in Kerala and
Karnataka plantations. Warangal has become a `killing field' for farmers
exposed to pesticides. Vijayawada has become a centre for kidney diseases
borne out of polluted water flowing from agricultural fields into water bodies.
Water shortages have increased in rural India. There is more and more clamour
for big, mega irrigation projects, threatening to displace more and more
traditional Indian families. This has increased the ‘greed’ of politicians,
bureaucrats and corporates. Food production might have increased, but land
under food crops has declined. Variety of food is continuously dropping. Millets
have become a rarity and are becoming a rich person’s table diet from poor
persons roj ki roti. India is exporting ‘cheaply’ by externalizing the
environmental costs of growing commercial crops.
Now a second
Green Revolution is being talked about, with active support from Manmohan
Singh, Sharad Pawar and Montek Singh Ahluwalia. While the first phase was
about ‘chemicalisation of Indian agriculture', the second Green Revolution is
all about `Corporatisation of Indian agriculture'. Right from seed
production, through crop management, to marketing and exports, the
government wants to encourage big corporate and multinationals. The
package of policies for second Green Revolution are shocking and would
once again take India into ‘colonialism'.
This process is being aided by the Free Trade Agreements and bilateral
agreements with United States of America and Europe. India, under the second
Green Revolution, is set to become a ‘testing’ ground for more than 15 GM food
crops, and Indian population is likely to be a guinea pig. It is already. Bt cotton
seeds, with deadly toxin, are used for producing oil, which is the second largest
source of cooking oil in India now. Because it is cheap. GM soya and GM soya
products such as chips are being imported from US, without any labeling or
restrictions. A modern and scientific Europe applies caution and invokes
‘precautionary principle’.
In India, the PM would tell us that there is no alternative but to ‘eat GM
foods and promote multinational companies’. Second Green Revolution,
apart from policies, in action is nothing but “Americanisation of Indian food
production”.
(Illustration courtesy : Santosh Misra at www.indiadaily.org)