A recent government study found that 200,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves in the past ten years.
Well-known Bollywood filmaker Aamir Khan attributes this startling statistic to the fact that many unsuspecting farmers are convinced that genetically modified seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers from American companies like Monsanto will increase their profits. Khan is hoping to spread awareness about this disturbing trend in a new movie.
The film, called Peepli Live, is set in an Indian village named Peepli. A young debt-burdened farmer named Natha is talked into taking his own life after he learns that his family will be financially compensated through a government program created to alleviate the loss of farmers taking their own lives (Alternet).
To afford the supplies and steep licensing fees imposed by Monsanto, many farmers mortgage their farms just to survive to plant another year. The first bad yield due to drought or flooding plunges them so far into debt that many resort to suicide.
The Problem With Franken-Food
Supporters of genetially engineered foods often claim that bio-crops are the only way to feed the world’s booming population in the future.
Unfortunately, a study from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that genetically engineered crops have never been proven to produce larger harvests. Crop yield increases in recent years have almost entirely been due to improved farming or traditional plant breeding, despite thousands of field trials of GM crops (Scientific American).
Seeds purchased from companies like Monsanto are also engineered with “terminator technology,” which means plants produce sterile seeds after only one season. Farmers, already in debt because of the high price of “superior” GM seeds, are thereby forced to buy more seeds for the next harvest.
Read the entire Peepli Live interview with Aamir Khan here.
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