“Producing more, conserving more, improving farmers life” Behind this phrase from Monsanto Corporation, there is a cotton seed monopoly in India that used this phrase as a merely marketing strategy, and their operations induced a series of farmer suicides in India.
How this happened? Before Monsanto’s settlement in India, local farmers used to produce their cotton in small scale and in traditional ways. However, globalization allowed the introduction of Monsanto Corporation into the Indian market. Monsanto introduced a Genetic Modified Organism (GMO) seed that contained a toxic gene (Bt toxin). Farmers got trapped and started to get in debt because they continuously needed more and more fertilizers and pesticides to keep their GMO’s crops alive. This created a vicious circle in which farmers would buy a cheaper seed but at a long term the outcome wouldn’t ensure any profit because they needed to buy more pesticides, at the end they were only in debt and generating no profits. This situation lead to an alarming chain of farmer suicides.
“Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life. When a corporation controls seed, it controls the life of farmers.”
Monsanto overpassed the Indian rules regarding GMO’s and managed to control 97 percent of India’s cotton seeds. The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology sued Monsanto but it was too late because they had changed the agricultural practices in India.
For some profit businesses like UPASANA (an Indian fashion company), this situation was alarming and they felt that something had to be done. Umah Haimavati Prajapati created a project name Paruthi, which is a sustainable business and its main objective is to promote and protect the cotton communities in the region of Tamil Nadu. The brand was unwilling to let their farming society fall apart; therefore, they leveraged partnerships with local organization with the purpose of using only organic crops that require all-natural fertilizers and to develop a business strategy that empowers and improves livelihoods of farmers and weavers. Today, Paruthi is a socially and environmentally sustainable project using only the most ethical practices and the cotton communities of rural India. In words of Umah “ I am interested in creating a world that is better and fair”.
Marcos Lopez Manrique