> I read and was greatly moved by the compelling paper of Vandana Shiva on
> biopiracy in India.
> Since then I have pondered at length why it is that first the green revolutions
> and now the biotechnologies are taken up so enthusiastically? The Indian
> farmers (women included) are no more compelled to buy the genetically modified
> seed than New Zealand farmers are to use increasing amounts of urea as an
> insurance policy against lack of spring grass growth!
Good question! One reason of course (at least in India, I can't speak for
other countries), is the overwhelming poverty which makes farmers willing
to try out anything to improve yields and income. A few years ago an
unknown entrepreneur made millions by selling seeds of "Japani" tur or
Japanese pigeonpea - a staple source of protien for millions in India. His
agents promised a yield of ten tons by sowing 10 grams of seeds. Farmers
paid no attention to warnings by extension agents that "tur" is a tropical
crop, and there can be no Japani tur (I don't know myself if this is
true). The result was a massive crop failure. In India at least the magic
of a made in Japan label (or anywhere else in the west) is quite powerful.
> Perhaps it has simply been the compelling joint power of particular commercial
> interests yoked with the supposed objectivity of government research and
> extension agencies. ( Voltaires Bastards by John Ralston Saul, in particular the
> chapter on science, makes compelling reading on the role of science in a
> corporatist society)
A scientific stamp is another label that is quite powerful. For whatever
reasons, (Nehruvian development paradigm perhaps)an appeal to science
works wonders. People are willing to suspend all their reasoning abilities
when it comes to science. It is only as a result of the disastrous effects
of the green revolution, that farmers are learning to rely on indigenous
knowledge passed down through generations.
Sustainability, organic, and local are not yet popular terms, though there
are no dearth of attempts to make these popular.
> Alfred Harris
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology, Powai
Mumbai, 400076, India
Phone: 091 022 576 7372
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