‘Suicide Seeds’ And Monsanto’s War Of Attrition On Indian Farmers, In Photographs
The cycle of news has seemingly come and gone when it comes to the mass suicides of Indian farmers.
When the stories first broke a few years ago about how thousands, and then tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands of farmers in India were committing suicide, reportedly due to their indebtedness to Monsanto among other factors, people around the world reacted in shock and horror.
Then the inevitable second wave of apologist stories starting coming out a few months later, purporting to show how it was those “other factors” that were really the driving force behind the spate of suicides, and that Monsanto really wasn’t to blame, and anyway the suicide epidemic wasn’t really all that bad to begin with.
Call it the debunkening cycle, if you will.
The problem is that these are people’s lives. It may be news, yes, but for reporters from far away to swallow the PR spin and wave away the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men and women, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more whose lives are devastated and often impoverished as a result, is insulting in the extreme.
That’s why Global Justice Now, a U.K. non-profit dedicated to fighting for the power of the many over the few has commissioned acclaimed photographer Jordi Ruiz Cirera to develop a photo exhibition that would tell the tales of some of these farmers and their families in close-up.
The exhibition, currently touring the U.K. brings home the devastation wrought by multinational agrichemical businesses like Monsanto and their soon-to-be partners in (actual) crime Bayer upon farming communities in India. The stories they tell are devastating in the extreme, but they also serve to divorce power from the conglomerates and return it to the people whose lives they have stolen.
The exhibition looks at the lives and stories of four widows of farmers who died by their own hand, Baby Bai Viwodratnod, 52, Sampati Tara Songh, 58, Vimal Vishnu Chavan, 40, Anita Raju Pawn, 36. They each tell similar stories of how their husbands, lured in by Monsanto’s pie-in-the-sky promises of increased crop yields and more money they could make if they switched to Monsanto’s GMO cotton seed–keeping in mind that you can’t save seeds from one season’s crop to plant for the next one with Monsanto’s seeds, as they have engineered out nature’s way of reproducing.
When the promised crops failed to bring in enough revenue, coupled with the stress of the massive debt they had taken on to buy the seeds, coupled with the lack of funds to buy a new round of seeds to plant for the following season, these men tragically chose suicide.
If you get a chance, check out the exhibition in the real world. Jordi Ruiz Cirera’s work van be viewed here.