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Originally published April 24 2013

Environmental expert: GMO farming causes one billion people to go hungry

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The future of food is not one in which the global seed supply is owned and licensed out by an oligopoly of multinational biotechnology and industrial agriculture corporations, but rather one in which the peoples of the world are free to save, reuse and replenish their own heirloom seed stocks without the shackles of outrageous patent limitations, dangerous pesticides and perpetual dependency on non-renewable inputs. This is the vision of Dr. Vandana Shiva, a prominent environmental advocate and agricultural expert who recently told BBC News' Sarah Montague that genetically-modified (GM) seeds are basically destroying Indian agriculture and causing billions of people around the world to go hungry.

Once again countering the mindless corporate rhetoric that claims GMOs are the answer to the world's food problems, Dr. Shiva offers a thorough analysis during a recent interview on HardTalk of the current state of affairs in India, where hundreds of thousands of farmers have committed suicide in recent years as a result of being duped by Monsanto into converting to a GM variety of cotton known as Bt cotton. Dr. Shiva also highlights the fact that many of the people groups commonly thought to be in desperate need of rescue from poverty were actually plunged into it by unscrupulous corporations that not only stole their livelihoods, but also robbed them of their sovereignty and food freedom.

"Since the big companies came in and took over the seed supply, especially in cotton, we have had 270,000 farmer suicides, most of them driven by debt, and the debt caused by high-cost, non-renewable seeds," explains Dr. Shiva, before being cut off by Montague. "Why are farmers being trapped in debt when they weren't in debt earlier? Because they're getting into debt for seed, and they're getting into debt for chemicals, because the seeds which were supposed to control pests aren't really controlling pests, they're creating new pests."

Monsanto, corporate seed industry raping and pillaging India of its agricultural heritage

In essence, Indian farmers who for generations have been saving and reusing a variety of heirloom seeds and cultivating them bio-dynamically are now being tricked into converting to non-renewable GM seeds that must be repurchased year after year, and that are grown mono-culturally as global commodities. Many of these same farmers are also having to shell out as much as 8,000 times more money to purchase these seeds each year compared to when they first contracted with Monsanto, according to Dr. Shiva, which is causing many of them to lose their land and livelihoods, thus the sharp increase in farmer suicides that began to spike around 1997 when Bt cotton was first introduced.

"Seed has always been a renewable resource in farmers' hands," adds Dr. Shiva, noting that with Bt cotton, which currently represents some 95 percent of plantings in India, farmers are being lied to about both yields and profitability. "Every second Indian child is today so severely malnourished, and every fourth Indian is today hungry, something we've not had after independence -- this is all a result of today of food having been reduced to a commodity, and being destroyed as a source of livelihood on the one hand for the farmer, and a human right for those who must eat."

Be sure to watch the full interview with Dr. Shiva here:

You can also learn more about Dr. Shiva's work with Navdanya, a seed saving and sharing initiative currently spreading throughout India, by visiting:

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