BT sins… Itchy scars!
Haryana is today reeling under an itch invasion... people say due to farming BT cotton, but state and central governments are rubbishing this, reports Anil Pandey
|Haryana is itching. Large sections of Haryanvis in villages are itching... and please don't laugh… whoever you meet in major parts of the state is scratching himself or herself crazy. Because the western malaise of merciless avarice has spread myriad maladies in village after village of Haryana, now under the iron grip of BT cotton, the genetically modified cotton seeds that not just fleece farmers financially, but are now robbing them of their health and their cattle as well.
Hissar villages are itching. Sirsa villages are itching. Fatehabad villages are itching. These three districts form the heart of Haryana's cotton belt, and here cows and buffaloes are itching too. They are giving birth to premature calves, and the cows themselves are dying. The problem is when a premature calf is delivered, the family cannot even disclose that, as its price when it is ready for sale will drastically drop. In many cases, the cows' uteruss are protruding from the stomach. Even Harpal Singh Grewal, the rich NRI from Sirsa, who was in the government of India's steering committee for promoting organic farming says that BT cotton is ruining Haryana, but the government itself is in total denial mode.
Towards the beginning of this millennium, the government, suitably lobbied by Western mega-companies like Monsanto, allowed BT cotton to come in. The product was pushed. Farmers were impressed upon that the usual pest of cotton plants would die if they tried their tricks on the BT cotton plants, so their yields would skyrocket. Farm sector moneylenders gave loans and opened their own BT seed shops in the villages… so their money came from both fronts. The transformation has been most rapid over the past two years.
But it was transformation at all levels. The most remarkable transformation is the health of humans and cattle. And though no sudden, unexplained proliferation in human deaths have been reported so far, the rate of cows and buffaloes giving up the ghost at short notices – reportedly after a few months of being fed on oilcakes made from the husk and seeds of BT cotton seeds – has reached alarming proportions.
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