(NaturalNews) The government of India appears to be slowly falling into the clutches of multinational chemical companies craftily pushing their own patented genetically modified (GM) crops as the solution to hunger and poverty, with a new bill set to deliver subsidized food made from these poisons to more than 800 million Indian people. But one prominent organizer with extensive knowledge in Indian farming issues says the answer is not GM crops but rather agro-ecological approaches that rely on organic, chemical-free growing methods.
Dilnavaz Variava, who heads the consumer issues division of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, says more than 1 million Indian farmers from roughly 10,000 villages throughout the country are already growing pesticide-free crops on more than 3.5 million acres with great success -- apart from GMOs. This is the agriculture model with the greatest potential for feeding impoverished Indian people, she says, and the one that officials who are being courted by the biotech lobby are shamefully overlooking.
"India has enough food grain -- almost two-and-a-half times the required buffer stock -- and yet 200 million Indians go hungry," said Variava. "The problem of sufficiency is not one of production, but of economic and physical access.... Poverty, mounds of rotting food grain, wastage and leakages in the Public Distribution System are the real causes of food insecurity."
Food security has decreased in every country that adopted GMOs
Getting India's overabundance of food to the people who need it, in other words, is the real issue -- not a lack of food. And introducing GMOs into the equation will do nothing to fix this distribution problem, instead creating food security issues that now plague every other country that has adopted GMOs.
"In the U.S., food insecurity has risen from 12% in pre-GM 1995 to 15% in 2011," stated Variava during a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) India Real Time. "In Paraguay, where nearly 65% of land is under GM crops, hunger increased from 12.6% in 2004-06 to 25.5% in 2010-12."
"In Brazil and Argentina, GM food has not reduced hunger. In any event, GM does not increase yields, as the Union of Concerned Scientists established through a review of 12 years of GM in the U.S."
Agro-ecological farming is creating wealth, eliminating hunger in India
Since most Indian farms are small and run by families, the intensive inputs required for GMOs -- synthetic fertilizers, chemicals and royalties to biotech companies -- are both cost-prohibitive and unsustainable for India. On the other hand, agro-ecological farming, says Variava, is providing real wealth while boosting exports and creating lasting food security.
As she explained during her interview with the WSJ, organic farming methods that avoid GMOs are capable of increasing the per capita income of Indian farmers by 250 percent, leading to a wealth accumulation of $1.9 billion. The export market will also benefit, generating $87 million in exports and 2 million more employment opportunities over the course of five years.
"In India and most developing countries food is sold unpackaged," wrote one WSJ commenter who also attests to the successes of organic, agro-ecological farming as a viable food production and supply model in India. "Farms are small[,] and GM and non GM cannot be segregated -- as admitted by our Agriculture Department."
"The US Government and the US Trusts, which promote the interests of the GM seed patent corporates who use every trick in the book to promote GM in developing countries, under the guise of 'benevolence' to the 'poor' -- are doing a great disservice to US -India relations."