- Politics and Social Issues
Frogs Marry Too
Frogs Marry Too!
Frog weddings drew my attention some years ago. Involved in the wedding ceremony are the farmers in India and two little fat frogs powdered in bright yellow turmeric and draped with pearls and showered with rice. How cute is that? The celebration is large with food and songs from Bollywood films. But, it can be serious stuff in India. Farmers depend on the yearly monsoons to bring in the cotton and they have made frog weddings part of the Hindu culture for insuring rain.
And A Honeymoon Boat Ride.
After the ceremony a cozy little raft will take the frog couple down the river for some private time. If there is to be ample rain in the farmer’s future the frogs will be croaking. If there is no croaking it just may be another devastating dry season and the frogs will be silent, so the story goes.
Cotton Seeds and Death
Frog weddings led me to research India, and the cotton farmers of Vidarbha in the eastern region of the Indian state of Maharashtra. For many years the farmers of India have been in the news due to rampant suicides, ever since the implementation of Monsanto’s Bt cottonseeds.
According to an article by Anthony Gucciardi in Natural Society, “Monsanto’s cost-inflated and ineffective seeds have been driving farmers to suicide, and is considered to be one of the largest — if not the largest — cause of the quarter of a million farmer suicides over the past 16 years.” “In what has been called the single largest wave of recorded suicides in human history. .”
Cotton is huge in India. According to VIB (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology) the farmers of India produce 21% of the world’s cotton. Also according to VIB research there has been outstanding growth in the past few years and all because of a bacterium that is injected into the cotton gene that helps the plant resist destructive insects, and most particularly the dreaded boll weevil that feeds on cotton buds. This insecticide is Monsanto’s Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) and attacks the larvae of the bollworm.
Why The Suicides?
But why the suicides you ask? According to VIB and Monsanto and Bill Gates and those of that ilk, Genetically Modified Organisms are the greatest thing for agriculture since well, bread. GMO wheat will save the world and feed the masses. VIB claims stopping the boll weevil has resulted in a remarkable growth and produced record levels of cotton since its implementation. And it gets better according to VIB. Farmers use much less insecticide and that protects the environment, produces higher yields and higher profits.
This is Sanjana, ( a fictitious name I gave her for my novel The Years if Silent Frogs) Sanjana is in mourning for her husband who lies on the ground writhing in pain from ingesting the insecticide. She knows he has only minutes more to live. There is nothing she can do for him. Sanjana has children to feed and now is left with worthless crops and overwhelming debt. She too will take her own life and the children will live on the streets in the slums.
From the Farmer's Perspective
The truth for many of the farmers of India is the Bt insecticide has ruined them financially. The seeds are very expensive and often have to be financed. Other insects are not affected by the Bt insecticide and in fact there was an increase of 250–300% in attacks by non target pests like jassids, aphids, white fly and thrips, and the Bt plants became prey to fungal diseases like root rot disease or fusarium.(source: Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology)
This means additional poisons must be purchased which greatly increases the farmer’s expense. In 2013, it was determined that the Bt pests were resisting the insecticide and it became useless. Possibly the most aggravating feature of the Bt insecticide is the gene is programmed to commit its own suicide.( hybrid cultivars) Used seeds are worthless which forces the farmer to invest large sums every year for new seeds which cost four times more than regular seeds. Of course Monsanto disputes all these miseries but then Monsanto is not only selling expensive seeds they are furnishing all the insecticides for 95% of the cotton farming in India.
However, Hawaii has banned GMO cotton, Africa has banned GMO cotton and India has banned GMO cotton from Monsanto and is developing a safer formula.
Driven into debt that he cannot possibly repay, shamed by failure and distraught beyond help, the Indian cotton farmer has turned to suicide. A corporation selling seeds and bug poison has destroyed these once successful cotton farmers both financially and emotionally. It’s truly sad.
This story is so tragic and I get so exercised over GMO, I wrote a suspense novel about a brave young man that travels to India to help the farmers and is hunted by the seed corporation, falls in love with a beautiful Indian woman, betrays his high school sweetheart and even adopts a little slum child. (The Years of Silent Frogs)
Although the characters are fictional I tried very hard to keep the results of Monsanto's intrusion into farming as accurate as possible. It is a horrifying story.
THE YEARS OF SILENT FROGS
- The Years of Silent Frogs: elizabeth jenan-dickman: 9781480014473: Amazon.com: Books
The Years of Silent Frogs [elizabeth jenan-dickman] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Frank Maynor has an opportunity to accompany his biology professor to India to study biotechnology, and he impulsively leaves his sweetheart behi