Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vandana Shiva: GMO crops "suicidal" compared to native crops adapted to flood & drought--"Resilience is built through diversity"

GMO companies have pushed their way into India, persuading small farmers to purchase expensive GMO seeds on borrowed money. Many of these farmers have committed suicide after the promises of better cotton yields turned out to be false hype--poor or bad GMO crop yields resulted in insufficient income to pay back their debts.

In February, India's government imposed a moratorium on the use of a GMO eggplant because of safety concerns.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Indian environmentalist and GMO-free advocate Vandana Shiva, warned that the use of genetically modified crops is "suicidal" because they, unlike native and normal crops, cannot adapt to flooding and drought:
"The (GM) system is more about companies making money from farmers than food security..."

Plenty of drought- and flood-resistant traditional crop varieties already exist and simply need to be brought back to market, supporters of traditional farming say.

Shiva said India has hundreds of varieties of rice, and many that show resistance to flooding, drought and saltwater are now being carefully bred at Indian research institutes to increase yields and are then re-released to farmers.

In India's northeast Assam province, where fields have been flooded for weeks after intense rains, demand has surged for two rice varieties that can survive weeks under water and also produce well even in dry conditions.

Planting a broader variety of crop strains - rather than a couple of GM varieties - should help protect the world food supply and insure it against emerging climate threats, including an expanding range of crop pests.

While a pest might decimate some varieties of crops, it is unlikely it could destroy a wide range of varieties, she said.

"Resilience is built through diversity," Shiva said.

Keeping small farmers on their land is also key, she said, because small farmers are more productive per acre than big-scale growers, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation's figures.

"The majority of people in the world are still farming on small farms," she said. "If we're addressing food security we'd better enhance the security of small farms."

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