Misleading line on Monsanto
This is with reference to the article titled ‘Vidarbha farmers to join Sept 20 bandh against FDI’ by Yogesh Pawar that appeared on Monday, September 17, in your esteemed publication. We would like to draw your attention to a specific statement, “Readers will recall that more than 9,000 farmers have ended their lives since 2005 when American MNC Monsanto was allowed to take over the cotton economy of the region” – which is misleading, and seems biased against technology. Farmer suicide is a tragic phenomenon that takes place for a variety of complex social and economic reasons which long pre-date the introduction of insect-protection Bt cotton technologies in India since 2002 in hybrid cotton seeds. Several reputed organisations including International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) have conducted comprehensive socio-economic investigations into the farmer suicide issue and most agreed that indebtedness is one of the main factors. Other causes include repeated crop failures due to climatic conditions like untimely rain and unusually either heavy rain or drought, social and family obligations, breakdown of formal credit structures, lack of irrigation, lack of alternative source of income from occupations allied to agriculture, and little value addition to agriculture produce. Farmers’ choice to plant hybrid cotton seeds with insect-protection Bt cotton technologies on over 90% of cotton acres, and increased cotton production, is testament to the value created by better seeds, technologies and farming practices, when compared with the alternative of seeds and insecticide sprays. As for the allegation of “Monsanto controlling the cotton economy of the region”, India is the world’s most competitive market for cotton seed and agri biotechnologies as Indian cotton farmers have the widest choice of over 850 hybrid Bt cotton seed brands from over 50 Indian and global seed companies, with five in-the-seed insect protection Bt cotton technologies approved; plus non-Bt varietal cotton seeds.
—Christopher Samuel, Director - Public Affairs, Sustainability & CSR, Monsanto, India
A wake-up call
I welcome the initiative taking by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in the time of economic crises which the country is facing again like in 1991. The prime minister rightly said that a hard decision of putting some burden on the common people is the need of the hour and they should not be mislead by certain selfish and opportunist opposition parties. These parties are are trying very hard to topple the elected UPA government for their own selfish political gain without realising the grave economic situation and the consequences which the country is facing in recent times.
—Bhagwan Thadani Mumbai
Dr Singh disappointing
This has reference to the Prime Minister’s recent address to the nation. It was a great revelation from him that money does not grow on trees! But conveniently the PM forgot that in India money does grow in coal, spectrum, mines and guns. From the economist’s point of view, he could convince listeners that India is facing a major economic crisis and unless some drastic steps are taken immediately the growth story of India will soon come to an end. But as an honest administrator and custodian of people’s faith he had nothing to add as to what he intends to do with the never-ending scam scenario. We were fervently looking forward to at least an admission of guilt that some wrong decisions have been taken. On this count, the PM’s speech was a huge disappointment.
—Guruvayurappan K, Navi Mumbai
BMC to explain
This is with reference to ‘BMC dumps Rs70cr pothole machines’ (Sept 22). The BMC decision to scrap three pothole machines worth Rs70cr is deplorable. Despite potholes and craters galore on Mumbai roads the pothole filling machines have been hardly utilised to their optimum. Citizens can figure out about 1,575 potholes still left untouched. A BMC audit should probe terms and conditions for the purchase of these machines in 2008. Who are the officials interested in the deal? They owe an explanation to the citizens.
—Deepak Chikramane, Mumbai
More than the politics and economics of bandhs, it is time for a debate on the very ethics of bandhs (‘Strike causes India a Rs12,500cr loss’, Sept 21). That parties so distant on the political spectrum can join hands, walk together and appear united against economic reforms is a sign of the unethical political opportunism that motivated this pan-India bandh. Their so-called pro-poor rhetoric is mere eyewash since none of these parties is remotely sensitive to these effects of their bandh.
—Suren Abreu, Andheri East