Posted in Economic

WTO and India: Rethinking India’s Food Security

continuing tragedy of farmer suicide in India... who is responsible?
continuing tragedy of farmer suicide in India… who is responsible?

This is a post I blogged private (original date of publishing: August 6, 2014)  but in the heat of ‘Jallikattu’ protests would like to revisit the issue: Below is a reproduction of my original blog post with little editing here and there.



‘Karuvelam’ trees also known by the name ‘Veli Kathan Mullu/Maram’ (the trees that are fences) were once the rage of rural Tamil Nad. These are easily breakable firewood found aplenty throughout the state. What we did not know of them was that, these trees were NOT native to India/Tamil Nadu. It was easy to have them in our villages for the dual purposes they served: cheap fuel and the much-needed thorn fencing they provided without requiring watering or nurturing. Veli Kathan Mullu was no fodder for cowherds/goat herds, unfit for grazing that made it farmers choice.

There is a conspiracy theory doing rounds in recent times, that in order to off-set India’s record farm productions, to make us a foodgrain importer, some vested ‘western’ interests got the species clandestinely to Indian soil. After 3-4 decades the effects – disastrous – are already showing. The water-table has since depleted to alarming levels and the rainfall to southern districts has receded to a bare minimum. Research established ‘the culprit’ behind the debacle of once-fertile agricultural farms turning into parched dry lands – the ‘Karuvelam’ trees ( botanical name ‘Prosopis juliflora’ ). There is also another theory going that Tamil Nadu’s Congress Chief Minister Kamaraj introduced the vegetation to the state in drought times to provide for cheap fuel in the countryside. Whoever is responsible, the damage is done and the effects are now devastating.

Now finally efforts are on to root out the trees completely from native soil and try cash crops first to air and test the soil and bring to it a fresh lease of life.

Please also check out this Facebook page:

சீமை கருவேலம் எதிர்ப்பு இயக்கம் / Juliflora tree abolish movement.

This page is in Tamil and the posts in the page allege that the US is indirectly engaged in biological warfare in India, no less.

Links from the page (videos are in Tamil) explain how detrimental the trees are to Tamil Nadu agricultural holdings and even to our entire eco-system. Without mincing words, the page and videos blame the western forces for the invasion of these ‘alien’ trees in our midst.


One more on court order on rooting out of Karuvelam trees:


When the trees were initially planted in TN (none knows where they came from to this day), the villagers took to them eagerly given the level of our rural poverty. The ‘karuvelam’ trees saw to that the kitchen fires burned, literally, which was and has always been a major issue with rural India till this day. In ’70s or ’80s, the availability of fuel to far flung districts was scarce and the costs were steep. So the popularity of the ‘Karuvelam trees’ as fuel-efficient fencing trees in the state went unprecedented.

The Karvelam trees, extremely invasive, spread faster than wildfire and soon they spread upto river basins. Not only did they, over decades, suck out the complete water table from our agricultural ‘bhoomi’, they also preyed on the very moisture content in our atmosphere. ‘Tanjore delta’ is the ‘rice bowl’ of Tamil Nadu and now what we have is, farmers selling agricultural lands to realtors because of increasingly failing crops.

The wake-up call has come a little late, still better late than never.

Any similarities we have here with BT Cotton, a GM crop we have in India today?

For a fact we know how many farmer suicides are instigated in this country by failure of crops due to unpredictable monsoons. BT-cotton takes credit for causing maximum life loss in the states of Telengana and Maharashtra as well as in rest of India, being a direct import from the west (read US).’_suicides_in_India

One only needs to google to find out the scale of tragedy when it concerns farmer suicides in this poor nation of ours.

While I am hardly a qualified expert to speak on the subject, from what I have read and learned (from media) over years, I can surmise these facts:

  • BT cotton is a GM crop imported from multinational corporations in the west/USA. The seeds need to be imported at high cost from America whereas the local indigenous cotton crop seeds are distributed free to Indian farmers by our government.
  • BT cotton seeds are like ‘china product.’ One-time use only. Use and throw. Cannot be harvested for re-use at a later date.
  • Most Indian farmers harvest a good portion of the seeds for future use. This is not the case with BT cotton or for that matter, with any GM crop. The farmers’ independence and security are forever compromised.
  • The patent for the BT cotton seeds and other GM crops will always be the property of these corporates and thus not only our farmers but even the Indian government could one day come to be at the mercy of the west/ In short, we could be held to ranson as a nation. Food security is one of our strongest points. And if there is going to be threat for that basic assurance to our masses, then none can save India ever.

Recall the Hollywood picture ‘10,000 BC’ here and how the picture ends: the film’s hero character D’Leh returns to his tribe with success – and with a handful of gifted grains/seeds for harvest from his friends/allies.

Highlights how harvested seeds, native to the soil, are always important to any nation. The harvested foodgrains/seeds are India’s future.

The american corporations have scrounged millions & millions of dollars out of poor, dying farmers in India  (watch the above documentary). Just like Amway did, like in rural Andhra Pradesh to cite a case.

(Amway India is another track i will take up later).

See what Monsanto has done to South America here:

This is the same Monsanto that has entered India by illegal means and is killing Indian soil with a vengeance:




  • BT cotton, the GM variety yield may be good and promising in the first couple of years. Thereafter the graph drops significantly as we have seen in the states that took to BT cotton farming. Bollworm which plagues the BT cotton gets pesticide-resistant in a very short period that leads to subsequent crop failures. The fact that this observation was NEGLECTED to be mentioned by US marketing to India goes a long way to prove how aggressive our modern day invaders are. And how gullible or corrupt perhaps Indian government has been always, sadly.
  • Given the high cost of acquiring the GM seeds coupled with uncertain monsoons and inability to tackle the bollworm infestation, thousands of poor farmers have been driven to suicide in Telengana, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The other complication is, once the soil gets the BT cotton plantation, it turns averse/hostile to native cotton varieties. This is like cancer – our own genes on a mutiny against our physical body leading to our ultimate death and destruction.
  • BT cotton seeds is patented and held to ransom by US corporations – so if GM crops is what India is to go after in a large scale, we are now having a trailer of what is going to come next. The native harvested seeds will be lost forever with the ‘antibodies’ multiplying and multiplying to an extent that our own defences will be down and become the weakest – an unmitigable loss to the nation and humanity.
  • BT cotton is a small example of how the west can twirl us around their fingers. While I have never come across a direct case of BT cotton farmer, over the years I have been watching a no. of tv news reports and newspaper findings and researches that point to the scenario. I believe in them because they have no reason to lie. This is not like an isolated incident either. This is a widely spread critical issue that has drawn the national headlines for the right reasons.

This blog is in response to the one on GM BT-Cotton that I recently chanced upon. While I welcome others views, I am surprised and hurt to see how our own blood is turning against us for ‘short term gains.’ So this is how the British came to usurp entire India. They played one small ‘Rajah’ against another – his neighbour, who gave in to excessive greed and selfishness. In the end, they/we all lost and how they/we lost!

What about other GMO vegetables and fruits like tomato and brinjal. These GMO food can contain genes from pigs and cattle – which can have significant altering effects on the very metabolism of us Indians, leave alone our vegetarian/religious orientation. We know of the ‘Mad cow’ disease which is not a surprise when you go against nature feeding the cattle with GM feed that contains meat products among others. When the cows, herbivores by the law of nature, ingest something that their metabolic system can never agree with like meat and chicken formula, their genes only have to mutate awful and gory, do we have a choice.  Who says the results are not proved in the labs.  And why should not they ever be suppressed or forged by vested interests/multinational corporations. Imagine the calves being born to these GM-formula fed cows and the genetic havoc they can wreck/unleash in the process. Imagine these calves growing up into cattle, giving birth to next generation with their original genetic composition turning awry. So are they the cow or cattle we know anymore? Or are they wolves in sheep’s clothes literally. This way, the whole biological/ecological chain can be affected in a manner unthinkable – and who knows where this will lead the world to. No wonder the beef products from the cows fed on GM food lead to ‘mad cow’ disease. Okay, this is all my deduction only, hahaha.

Soya bean is another GMO product that we can all do without. Touted to be an anti-cholesterol food, local doctors contend, if consumed largely under 40 years, the soy beans can lead to infertility in men.  Not 100% everything soy is GMO but the GMO Soy beans have invaded everywhere.

So what are the long term effects of GMO foods in us humans. Already we are seeing an unprecedented spurt in the birth of autistic and spastic children in the country which we blame on use of fertilizers and pesticides. They say, GM seeds/crops have not reached India in a big way, but everytime I see a big eggplant or whatever in the markets, I have these misgivings. Because, Indian produce are by nature diminutive in size compared to the western produce. Indian vegetables and fruits come in compact sizes with a detectable and favourable taste – because I have had chance to sample them and cook then in both Malaysia and Qatar for years now. I have had a chance to compare the same vegetables that are grown in different climatic conditions, different geographic locations etc etc. While my views can be easily dismissed as ‘coming from a housewife’ I have this ‘life experience’ that not even the experts in the field may have. So over-size vegetables and fruits in Indian markets alarm me always. Some stores sell imported ones – Personally I take a great care never to buy the wax-coated rich-looking ‘Washington apples.’ Rather it is always the demure and unattractive local desi ‘Shimla’ apples for me.

So essentially this is the difference between desi and foreign.

As for long term use of pesticides and fertilizers, we all know of the Punjab and Kerala story:

‘Endosulfan‘ is now banned in India, but not before a Kerala happened.

The Punjab episode is equally heart-wrenching.

For one thing, Indian farmers are poor and mostly illiterate, and it is not easy to educate them about the ill-effects of indiscriminate use of pesticides and fertilizers. But the case of GM crops like BT cotton is altogether different.

Overall, it looks like there has been some systematic, concentrated efforts to demoralize the Indian farmers that can have a direct impact in our food production and national food security.

India is tired, fighting a lone battle – with no SAARC nation to give us support. We fought and won the ‘Basmati’ case, we are fighting for everything Indian and desi from patents for neem to turmeric (haldi) to everything while our neighbours would rather sleep over these life issues and save their energies for ‘Palestine’ that is of zero consequence to the entire Indian subcontinent. What a waste.

Remember the ‘keezhanelli  keerai’ (a type of greens) that is Ayurvedic/Siddha medicine that has traditionally been used for centuries in India for treating jaundice (hepatitis). The allopathy medicine uses the same elements in this traditional greens – so what is India’s intellectual loss already is incalculable. Daytime robbery is what is taking place in our nation right in front of our eyes and we are all helpless watchers.

Today poor Indians are buying patented ‘keezhanelli’ – allopathic medicine – at exorbitant costs to get treated for hepatitis.

Every nation on earth has its own interests to protect first. So if the west would want India to be accommodating to their self-interests, India in a similar fashion reserves her right to enforce her stand in WTO to ensure the food security of this 1.2 billion nation. To ward off the BT crops and seeds will be our greatest challenge in the forthcoming years/decades. It makes one wonder about small, gullible nations that must have already fallen prey to ‘powerful demands.’




PS: I am not a farmer neither do I own agricultural lands (prohibited anyway by law from owning farmlands as urban citizen of this country), nor am I a qualified expert to speak on the subject. This blog is merely a matter of interest to me, a housewife, with no background. In fact I unearthed this one from ‘Trash’ and re-did it to post it today, as the issue gathers momentum at the center. I am NOT a member of any political party or NGO.