Friday, November 9, 2007

Natural Born Killers

"This autumn’s protests by the landless (Guardian) in the country are the latest in a series of incidents in which the poor have taken to the streets. But FT columnist Jo Johnson says these protests are “met with crushing indifference” as India and the world are preoccupied with the country’s booming stock market. The plight of Indian peasants reflects growing inequality in the country, as this new CFR Backgrounder explains.

One measure of the despair among India’s farmers: an estimated 100,000 farmers throughout the country committed suicide between 1993 and 2003. That’s according to India’s agriculture minister and the unofficial suicide figures are much higher (IPS). Most suicides are in the country’s cotton belt, which produces the world’s second-highest amount of cotton after China. The rise in cotton production is often linked (Hindu Business Line) to introduction of the genetically modified Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton seed, which entered the Indian markets in 2002. Many experts oppose the use of Bt cotton, saying farmers have to take on huge debts (PBS) every year to buy the expensive seeds and have struggled to make them productive."

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