Bitter Seeds

In the course of the film festival ALIMENTERRE in Brussels I had the chance to watch the movie Bitter Seeds last Saturday. It’s about the life of Indian farmers cultivating cotton – meaning BT cotton by Monsanto. Even though I was aware of the farmers’ situation in India the movie was an eye opener and reminded me once again why I should take care in choosing my clothes and fabrics: bio doesn’t just feel good; it preserves nature and lives. Thinking further – it’s not about you or me – it’s more about THEM and US – the earth.

So, what is BT cotton?  First of all it’s genetically modified cotton, meaning it is not organic cotton. What is behind BT cotton?

  • It’s very drought sensitive and water intensive. This means it needs water at certain periods of the crop growing. This means that it is very difficult to handle if farmers don’t have any soil irrigation system and depend on rain only.
  • It developed resistance against certain pesticides, i.e. available pesticides cannot control all pests anymore. Consequence is that plants cannot be saved once infected by a certain pest.
  • It’s sensible to new pests. It is apparently resistant against Bollworms, but pesticides for new pests are needed.  Consequence is that farmer needs to spend money on toxic pesticides.
  • It’s cultivated as monoculture. Consequence is that the soil gets unfertile in the long run and farmers need to spend money on synthetic fertilizers.
  • Seeds for BT cotton don’t regenerate. Consequence is that farmers need to spend money on seeds every year again.

Just some advantages of organic cotton: less drought sensitive, meaning no or only little irrigation necessary; no toxic pesticides and fertilizers, crop rotation instead of monoculture, i.e. soil fertility can be maintained.

Besides the cultivation of BT cotton another issue in the movie seems to be missing micro credits. But, please just watch the movie. I don’t want to describe here the complete problems. I rather would like to point out that it’s the consumer – us – who influences the market. Maybe not single individuals at the beginning – but the more people buy consciously the more they influence the product offer. Let’s look more for bio cotton instead of conventional cotton. Don’t be just a consumer – be a creator. And – we are already going in the right direction: When you think that at least 90% of the cultivated cotton fields in India are genetically modified then the following article is a big step. Please read “Mahyco banned from selling Bt cotton seeds in Maharashtra”, an article from 10 August 2012.

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