The Second Green Revolution: A Blue-Print to Control India’s Agriculture – Indo-US Treaty, New Seed Act
August 27, 2010
Written by – Dr. Abhee Dutta Majumdar, Dr. Siddharta Gupta, Partha Sarathi Dasgupta, Mrinmoy Sengupta
Published by – Lokayata Sahitya Chakra, May 7, 2010.
Translated by – Sanhati
From the nineties, India opened herself to the world market. As prescribed by the US based IMF and World Bank, India also undertook ‘structural adjustment’ programme. This had a two-fold effect: on the one hand it resulted in diminishing governmental spending, reduction of subsidies in different social welfare projects, divestment and privatization, while on the other hand it eliminated all hurdles to monopolistic capital to take over the production in the country. The erstwhile regulations were lifted to engineer a new paradigm where capital and product can freely travel across boundaries of the nation state.
All the essential services of civilized life, like education, health, drinking water, transportation have been effectively transformed into commodities. Rivers, mountains have been sold, forests occupied. Coastal zones regulations have been relaxed, land ceiling laws have been flouted to commission SEZs. In effect, the entire country is being sold in pieces to private capital, resulting in widespread social inequity, hunger, poverty and starvation.
According to Forbes magazine, the number of trillionaires in India jumped from 27 to 52 just in the year 2006-07. In a recent article Forbes also informs that 56 Indian firms figure in its elite list of 2000 multinationals. Though India is behind US (502) and Japan (210) in numbers, her industrialists are placed right behind those from Canada and China. After the last Loksabha elections, the number of multi-billionaires in the parliament became 300, while only the previous one had 128! In between 1989-90 and 2001-02, only 20 percent of the urban population had an increase of commodity consumption (by 40 percent), while the same period saw a net decrease in rural commodity consumption by 80 percent.
The 2009 United Nations human development index places India at 134th spot amongst 182 countries. In 2007-08 India was 128th. India is ranked first in infant mortality. The most diminutive and disabled children are born in India. The maximum number of hungry and malnourished kids can be found in India – as per the World Bank report. The annual per capita food grain availability (not purchase power) which was 177 Kgs in 1990 has gone down to 152 Kgs in 2005. The latter number is equivalent to the food grain availability in a famine-like situation. It is in such a critical juncture that Indian agriculture policies are about to be transformed radically.
Post 2009 Loksabha elections, the main ruling party in the central government has started to widely advertize a second phase of reforms. This year, the union finance minister has given the call for a ‘second green revolution’ in Eastern India. The essential idea is to promote widespread contract-farming and replacing cultivation of food-crops with cash-crops. Also, there will be surge in producing fruits and flowers and a voluminous increase in horticultural products, food-processing, dairy products and processed fish-meat products. Food grains will start getting imported from the government-subsidized farms of Europe and the US. The ‘first green revolution’ introduced petro-technology dependent agricultural practices which led many medium, small and marginal farmers to give up agriculture as they could not afford the high cost of adapting to the new age of farming. History will cruelly repeat itself as we prepare to embrace the ‘second green revolution’ – we shall hear the same cry of ‘farming is no longer profitable’ and the new bio-tech guided, petro-power driven farming will cause even more farmers to leave the land for the Tatas, Birlas, Mittals and Ambanis to delve into corporate farming.
The ‘seed act’ supplements this ‘revolution’. The farmers’ natural right of seed preservation is taken away. Using only the seeds sold by companies will become the norm. Already the agricultural giants, through their bio-tech innovations and experimentations on seeds and farm animals are exercising considerable control in this sector. The real price will be paid by the farmers of this country and this is most essential for this ‘second revolution’ (SGR). We shall demonstrate later in this booklet how exactly has the multi-national fiefdom been schemed in the veil of a ‘second green revolution’. The ultimate aim is to bring about a transformation of our self-sufficient agricultural system into a market-driven commercial system.
Long before this public call for the SGR that we hear now, the process has been initiated through many farming contracts where the multi-nationals tied up with Indian firms to enter the business of agro-products. The Bharti-Walmart or the Tata Kisaan-Tesco joint ventures are only couple of such instances where American or British retailers have tried to tap in this untouched sector. German Metro Cash and Carry or American PepsiCo has already invested in agricultural production in India. They want to capture the huge domestic market in India as well as re-engineer Indian agricultural production to perfectly match the needs of the west. Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta together control 40 percent of the seeds market and own 47 percent of the seeds. Bayer, Dow and a few more completely control the farm-chemicals market. Only 10 pesticide companies have 89 percent share of the market. Wal-Mart, Kroger, Carrefour and Tesco together control 40 percent of retail. And the unifications and mergers that these corporations frequently undergo are a product of the immense control that financial market exercises over them.
The centre has already admitted the failure of the ‘first green revolution’. The need for the SGR is rationalized by citing that there is currently a technological stalemate in the farm sector so that we can no longer maintain the high yields. But the new agro-policies make even more vigorous use of petrochemical dependant agriculture. The epitome of India’s green revolution, Punjab, has seen a huge reduction of soil fertility as admitted in a government report.
The rural people of Punjab are still suffering from the ill effects of the FGR. People are suffering from numerous health problems. Chemical pesticides are supposed to be the reason behind many cancer cases here. Train number 339 which passes through this region carries many cancer patients from Punjab to the government cancer hospital in Bikaner every day. It is known as the “cancer-train” there.
It is beyond any doubt that like the FGR, the SGR is also a US government approved, western multinational designed scheme. The plan for corporate domination is a much clearer aspect of this ‘revolution’ rather than it being ‘green’. The state as always will provide the necessarily legal and administrative insurance. It will quell any fuming discontent. But all this will happen in a much wider and more aggressive scale. Thus, a comparative study of the FGR and the SGR is imperative. At the same time, it is desirable to consider SGR as continuation of the process set by FGR. It is an irony that what is claimed as a ‘green’ revolution is definitely going to be ‘bloody’ – the experiences of the farmers in Vidharva, Maharashtra with the BT cotton will tell the disastrous results of bio-tech experimentations in agriculture. The astronomical proportions of farmer suicide forced a legislation to keep the morgues open 24 hours a day. The green-revolution hot-bed of Punjab has similar such bloody stories to tell.
Let us reiterate that like the FGR, SGR is also a US driven project. As a part of the greater neo-liberal design, this scheme is to utilize all the tools that multi-nationals have invented to exercise complete control over world-wide production of food and also the agro-market. It is remarkable that our country’s agricultural policy is crafted by a few agricultural universities and United States Agency for international Development (USAID). There is a concerted effort to link the food processing, seeds, fertilizer, pesticide, farm equipment, retail and have each segment controlled by a few multinationals. The entire process is driven by an even bigger profit motive. The research on genetically modified organisms (GMO) conducted by the Land Grant University in the US is funded by corporate money. The president of South Dakota State University has been hired as a member of the board of directors on Monsanto for an extremely high compensation.
What do multinationals want?
That investment is essentially directed to strategic production of certain crops and its export. This will be accompanied by setting up of agro-produce processing, food processing and spinning centers. May be some agro-chemical industries will follow. India will be the home for labor-intensive farming and the associated exportable agricultural products. The industrialised west wants to use India as their agricultural and food basket. There is also a clear intention of taking control of India’s mineral deposits, forest produces and coastal resources. To be precise, India is to be the supplier of raw material for the west. And, also a large market to sell the finished products. This neo-imperial attack is the same horror as the British East India Company.
July 18, 2005 – Joint Statement:
On July 18, 2005, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a number of agreements with the US president George W. Bush in Washington DC. Of these, only the civil nuclear agreement was highlighted. The parliamentary left made a big fuss about this and cried foul as the sovereignty of the country was being jeopardized (however, the urgency to organize widespread public protests against this was sadly lacking). On the same day was also signed another treaty that would affect the lives and livelihood of at least 84 percent of India’s population, though it was hardly discussed anywhere or by anybody. This is the draconian Agricultural Knowledge Initiative (AKI). Recall, about 65-70 percent of Indian population is involved in agricultural production. Add to that another 14 percent who are associated with retail trade. This treaty will essentially evict all these people from their livelihood. Exercising control over the agriculture of an agricultural country like India is like controlling its entire economy.
Already, the policies that the third world governments have adopted at the behest of the IMF or the WB have all been a bane to the agriculture and also to the people related to agriculture. Reducing the import duties on the import of food crops, reducing farm subsidies, new preservation policies, genetically engineered seeds and animal proteins have all gone to fill the coffers of these multinationals.
The single most important objective of AKI is to orchestrate the SGR in India. In his speech to the US Congress, in the context of the Indo-US joint declarations and signed treaties, Manmohan Singh remarked, “US had helped India immensely during the FGR. We hope that the AKI will usher in a SGR in India”. The disastrous effect of this treaty in the entire chain from cultivation to retail has already been outlined.
AKI is no windfall. It is a recipe for disaster that has been carefully perfected and fits in a greater design. The importance of 18th July, 2005 can hardly be over-emphasised. The joint declaration is undoubtedly a landmark historical document, one that is more likely to be treated as a testimony to the unimaginable betrayal of the Indian people. In every line of this declaration is hidden such abominable clauses that illustrates how using the tools of neo-liberalism and free-trade, India’s policies are tailored to suit the needs of the United States of America.
The foremost subject that is captured in this declaration is the US-India Economic Dialogue. This is essentially an attempt to revive the Indo-US economic discussion and use the private sector energy to establish a CEO-platform to cement the economic ties. Trade, Investments and technology transfers would accelerate the economic growth of both the countries through cooperation. It is in this paragraph that AKI has been mentioned. Apart from this, there is reference to Indian Space Research, Indian Democratic Framework, Legal Structure etc; the American intervention in all internal matters of the country is crystal clear.
Incidentally, the 2005 tour of Manmohan saw him in the company of Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, Baba Kalyani, Yogi Deveswar, Deepak Parekh and such other industrialists – these are the people who design the economic policies of the country. We discuss all this in detail below.
Although this treaty is publicized as a ‘knowledge initiative’, the treaty in its entirety is spelled out as – US-India Knowledge initiative on Agriculture education, Teaching, Research, service and Commercial Linkages. The complete name conveys the expanse of this treaty. This treaty is in fact an integral part of a greater treaty called US-India Strategic Economic Partnership. A deeper inspection reveals the essential purpose of this treaty, which is to put Indian education and research to the use of the American multinationals. The recommendations of the haloed ‘national knowledge commission’ or the topics that dominate the Indo-US Science and Technology Forums reveal how this purpose is being served through the treaty. Questions related to our national sovereignty needs to be raised at this hour which are even more grave than those asked about the 1-2-3 nuclear treaty.
We have already pointed out that US multinational corporations are eager to establish their monopoly control over the Indian agricultural system through the AKI. Not only farming, the tentacles of AKI are spread from seed production to retail and wholesale trade, food processing, education and research, distribution of agricultural produce. The US administration, USDA (US department of agriculture), USAID (US agency of international development), different US universities have launched this attack in a concerted manner. For instance, the business school of Michigan University has drafted the contract farming document of ITC. Cornell University is involved in BT crop research.
Primarily, four fields were targeted in this pact. These were:
a) The field of education, syllabus selection, research and training.
b) Food processing and the utilization of fossil fuels.
d) Irrigation methods.
As usual, the pact will be implemented by a private – public partnership, or by a “PPP” model, which means that while the government will pay for the infrastructure development, the profit will only go to certain individual owners of large multinationals. These private actors would like to convert the entire world into a large food production unit, and for that purpose, are replacing agricultural production with trade-based contract farming, replacing cultivation of normal crops with farming for cash crops and production of flowers. The main objective of this is to increase export. One can say that this process is bringing back the times of the indigo cultivation, though this promises to be a lot more horrifying.
In brief, lets focus on few aspects of this treaty.
a) The main thrust of the “second green revolution” is the increase of agricultural output using large quantities of geneticaly modified crops. The recent turmoil about BT Brinjal is a direct result of the this treaty. After BT-Brinjal, other BT crops like BT rice are in the pipeline. This will be discussed in detail later.
Not only produce, genetic engineering is going to be used in changing fish and poultry as well. Along with this the issue of patents is also going to be highlighted. This is how the Company Raj is going to be imposed on the farmers of India. The induction of genetically modified crops will drastically reduce seed diversity and the farming of conventional crops. Farming will become so expensive that farmers will be forced to give up their occupations. Apart from permanently taking away the control of seeds from farmers, the special “Biotechnology Regulatory Act” is being formulated so that any sort of protest will also be stifled. This is how the freedom of speech and democratic rights will be usurped.
b) US multi-multinationals will sponsor the training of different Indian agricultural researchers in their own country. This is how foreign companies will develop and control the Indian agricultural research system. Needless to say, this cost will be borne by the Indian government. The BT Brinjal scam exposed clearly how it is possible to have reports favorable to multinationals penned by a few researchers, and how government permission obtained by completely illegal means.
c) The syllabus of the agricultural universities of India will be restructured. The curriculum of different institutions will be made favourable for the second green revolution. As a result of this pact, US corporations and universities will be getting the permission of taking seeds from India to their own country. They can then genetically modify these seeds and re-introduce them in India, as new, patented seeds.
d) One main aspect of this is contract farming. There are many examples of this in Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. These will then rapidly spread to the other parts of the country following the declaration of the second green revolution. Futures trade would be based on this, and farmers will completely lose control over crop selection in the future. All such selection will be determined by the market, which will mainly promote the growth of food crops that can be exported and processed. This will be the future of the agricultural policy.
The high powered joint committee created for the implementation of Indo-US pact is represented prominently by Walmart, which is the world’s number one retailer, Archers Daniel Midlands which is the world’s largest food trader, and biochemical, seed and biotech giant Monsanto corporation which unilaterally control the seed market. Recently, in India FICCI and CII have joined this advisory committee.
Indo US CEO forum:
In his US visit of the US in 2005 by Manmohan Singh, the Indo-US CEO forum was formed under the supervision of the US-India business council. The primary objective of this forum was to supervise US investment in India and create conditions which would allow unfettered access for foreign capital. In reality, this group will try to implement all economic policies and ideas of the AKI pact. RatanTata has been designated the CEO from the Indian side, and William Harrison of JP Morgan as the CEO from the American side. Besides these, US board members are drawn from Cargill, Citigroup, Pepsico, McGrawHill, Xerox, while India is represented by Pratap Reddy of Apollo Hospital, Baba Kalyani of IndianForge Ltd, Ashok Ganguly of ICICI, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance, Yogi Deveshwar of ITC LTD, Deepak Parekh of ICDFC, to name a few. It is the proposal created by this group of corporates which was finally accepted in the parliament.
It is worth mentioning that many of these committee members were directly and indirectly connected to biotech research and agricultural retail croporations like Kishan Sansar of the Tata’s and Reliance Fresh of the Ambani’s. Besides, US companies that are closely affiliated are taking advantage of the treaty through the export market and are also changing the laws of the country for promoting their own interests. It is notable that the traveling companions of Manmohan Singh in 2005 were Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, Baba Kalyani, Y.C.Deveshwar, Deepak Parekh, etc. In one word, the promotion and individual growth of of particular large business and trade interests is being protrayed as the way to help in development of the nation.
Documents of the CEO forum: Tactical Economic Partnership of India and US:
In 2006, the CEO forum published an agenda, which in one word could be said to be the list of demands of the corporate houses. These demands are reflected in the many so called development projects and have different legal aspects.
Starting from infrastructure, and encompassing energy security, different sectors like trade and business intellectual property rights, direct foreign investment, insurance / banking / pension, SEZ, defense, special investment areas, agriculture, and even several aspects of the Indian legal system have been earmarked for “cooperation” within the document published by the CEO forum. In brief, let us try to look at the main points in the document.
1. Public-private partnership (PPP) needs to be encouraged. The Indian government will need to increase the transparency and efficiency of the bidding process in order to attract more US-based corporations. The legal system in India will need to be modified to protect the interests of foreign investors.
2. Large Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) will need to be set up in India, which will service both the domestic and foreign markets. These zones will have international standard infrastructure, developmental projects, energy and transporation advantages, single window of clearance, internationally competitive labour laws and administrative transparency. A task force comprising of various Indian and foreign industry representatives will coordinate with state and national governing bodies / agencies.
3. Foreign corporations are very interested in investing in electricity, petroleum, gas, etc. therefore the govt. should enact more aggressive reforms in these areas, and give special attention to investment.
4. In the way the US based firm Enron was facilitated to invest in the “Dabhol Electricity Project”, similarly Dow Chemicals should be allowed into Union Carbide in Bhopal, and all obstacles for such investment should be removed. The restrictions placed on the price of medication by Dr. Pranab Sen’s task force need to be reviewed. The government needs to take up the task of building infrastructure. Public-private partnerships need to be welcomed in the fields of investment, all of which could be joint Indo-US ventures.
5. Barriers in investing in the small scale retail market need to be removed. Similarly, hindrances in investment in real estate, media, satellite broadcasts should be reduced. The food processing industry should be opened up to foreign investment, and special investment zones (different from special economic zones) need to be opened up to to attract foreigh investment. These places would have lax labour laws.
6. The CEO forum has emphasized on control over higher education and research in the context of human resource development. They have advocated the establishment of ties with different Indian and American universities and have demanded complete independence in the determination of fees and syllabuses for the affiliated universities. It has been clearly mentioned that the AKI treaty will be specially used in the field of collaborative research between Indian and US universities.
7. The food processing industry will need to be completely privatised. To rejuvenate the food processing industry, a cold storage chain needs to be established. All obstacles in the transport of imported and internal agricultural produce need to be removed. The Agricultural Produce Market Committee regulation needs to be revisited as this poses an obstacle for buyers and food processors for investing and increases the costs of agricultural goods. The import and taxation policies on vegetable oil, oil producing seeds, agricultural produce, need to be relaxed and all barriers to foreign investment in food and agri-business needs to be removed.
8. An US-India agricultural research institute needs to be set up as a part of the AKI pact, and joint research will need to be encouraged. The US and India should jointly try to commercialise biotechnology and encourage in the investment of products and goods that are generated from biotechnology. The appropriate framework for this needs to be created.
9. Direct foreign investment needs to be accelerated. Barriers to retail trade will need to be loosened. Besides, real estate, media, broadcasting, cable TV, etc should have any investment limits removed. Insurance/banking regulations need to be relaxed.
Only selected parts of the document of the CEO forum are discussed here. As the main thrust of this is agriculture, many changes are coming in this sector. These are reforms according to the government, but are in reality a blueprint for corporate takeover.
Like the establishment of SEZ’s, food grain export, food processing, the entrance of large capital in retail industry, changes in the APMC law, changes in policies related to education and research, were mentioned to the show the connection between the corporate interests in the two countries. On the Indian side, the signatory was Ratan Tata. In this context it should be mentioned that the golden quadrilateral that came up during the nineties, and the way the rail and land corridors and shopping malls are sprouting up, are all parts of the new agricultural policy. Needless to say this will result in increased food shortages, malnutrition, widespread poverty and starvation.
First Green Revolution versus the Second Green Revolution:
In the 60s a change had been noticed in the agricultural policy that had been termed the first green revolution. A joint venture of the Ford Foundation of Henry Ford, and the Rockefeller Foundation of Standard Oil had made the world’s agricultural system more dependent on energy and mineral oil. This was an indivisible part of the strategy of making the world more dependent on petroleum. Behind this “green revolution” there were other motives than just improving the Indian agricultural output. The fulfillment of the self-interest of the US was much greater, especially the fulfillment of the plans of the oil companies who wanted to create a permanent market for themselves through this process. The aim of the first revolution was to introduce petrochemical dependency on farming and make inroads in the fields of ownership of seed distribution, take control over the sectors of pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, etc.
The initiative to start the first green revolution had begun in Mexico in 1943. At that time, due to the initiative taken by the US based Rockefeller foundation, a joint effort by the US agricultural ministry and the USDA established the wheat and corn research center CMMYIT. Following this, the International Rice Research Center was established in the Philippines. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation were also involved in this effort. Among their different objectives, one was to create hybrid seed varieties that would grow well on nitrogen based fertilisers. The IR-8 variety was created by hybridising PETA of Indonesia with Dee-gee Woo Gen of China. After that, several such research efforts have taken place. This was the first attempt to establish private control over the seed sector.
After the WW II, the spectre of communism chased the US all over the world. In their own country, the US established a military economy by striking a deal with labour unions for setting labour policies. If revolutionary movements were afoot in any country, the US would try to identify the roots. There was a specific economic objective to this. And in these efforts, CIA was called in if needed to implement the policies of the World Bank and the IMF.
Even in the areas of improvement of irrigation in Mexico and in the creation of high yielding varieties in Philippines, Indonesia, China, the green revolution was made a model of agricultural growth. At the initiative and due to the funding by the Ford Foundation, the Corn Development project (CDP) gave impetus to the agriculture in this country. After that, the Intensive Agricultural District Region (IADR) was started in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and in some provinces of North-Western UP from 1965.
In this context, it should be mentioned that the way the rich ruling class of this country tried to use the technology and resources of both Russia and the Western nations simultaneously. Due to this, there was some hesitation in accepting the green revolution. Hearsay said that after the US president Lyndon Johnson threatened to withdraw PL-480, the ruling class conceded to implement the required policies to facilitate the first green revolution.
The green revolution entered India by exploiting the food crisis. When a nationwide food crisis was going on in the country in the beginning of the 60’s, the green revolution package entered the country through the medium of export reform. Firstly, India was told that a nationwide survey of soil fertility needed to be conducted. The sale of farming equipment in India heralded the use of expensive machinery in Indian agriculture. Also, technology related to chemical fertilizer production was made sophisticated at this time. This was followed by the induction of high yielding seed varieties. Punjab was chosen as the incubation center for the green revolution. Along with the revolution, diesel pump-sets came into India. All of this was tied to the selfish profit motives of the Rockefeller and the Ford Foundations. These technologies were not introduced to alleviate India’s hunger.
In order to turn the popular tide of public opinion towards the green revolution, a large scale effort was undertaken to train the scientists who would support it. The US undertook the responsibility of establishing an agricultural university in Punjab. After that, such universities were established in different places like Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu.
Correspondingly, US universities were deputed to prepare the curriculum. It was decided that the agricultural universities in this country would be modeled after the Land Grant based university model of US. In this period, around 33 institutes came to be, including 25 state farming universities, 1 central agricultural university, 1 horticultural and forestry related university, 2 veterinary universities, to list a few. 4 national research centers were also created.
By directly becoming involved in the establishment of 5 universities of the first phase, US established roots in the Indian agricultural education and training arena. National universities had very close associations with US based universities, which often influenced their policy decisions. Examples of such collaborations were the involvements of the Ohio University in Punjab, Michigan University in Tamil Nadu, Purdue, Iowa university in Bangalore.
This is how the green revolution established itself in India. This same idea was applied in other countries.
Tales of increased yield from the green revolution were circulated. Starting from the school textbooks, people were brainwashed on the positive effects of the green revolution. But nowhere were its negative aspects mentioned. While statistics of increased yield were presented, the price for this yield increase was not mentioned. There were three main subjects of the green revolution.
1. Increase in amount of land under agriculture.
2. Fertile lands were directed to have double crops and increased irrigation.
3. Increased use of high yielding variety seeds.
It is not clear why on earth one would need the great opinions of American experts regarding the first two abovementioned steps. There was no need for the eminent experts to tell us that more grain can be produced by cultivating more land which would help in building up the farming system of the country. Second, neither is there any doubt that production would rise if two crops are grown instead of one. The third advice was for securing their hold in seed market. This raised per acre yield undoubtedly. But one also has to consider that cost of production has gone up in the same rate. There is no efficiency gain in obtaining more power by spending more power.
In newly independent countries like India where the bourgeoisie rules, the “green revolution” was accorded the status of national agricultural policy. In order to protect from the danger of second world war and world wide economic depression, the interest of the saviour of world capitalism, namely the United States, and that of the Indian bourgeoisie converged on the same point.
In the agricultural system of colonial age the government was not concerned about the food availability of common people. Without attaining any development in agriculture many exportable crops such as jute, coffee, tobacco, cotton were grown. In the interest of imperialism through permanent settlement, zamindari, mahalwari, ryotwari tenure systems capitalist production were carried on. The main aim of the British government was to collect taxes, to that end it compromised with the local feudal structure.
Immediately after independence therefore food crisis, problems of all around rural development cropped up along with problems of expansion of capitalism in agriculture. The reason why the Indian capitalist class interest started following the blue print prepared by the two American organisations, Rockfeller and Ford Foundation are as follows,
1.In the newly independent country the torch bearer of democracy, the Congress Party, followed a system of mixed economy to achieve welfare for all. But while doing so crisis on food front became the biggest issue. To reach food to industrial workers and ordinary citizens control should be exercised over supply of food and its price. Therefore, the central government adopted green revolution oriented agricultural policy to quell possibilities of imminent rebellion and insurrections.
2.Some investments were legitimately taking place in agriculture. A major part of the compensation paid to the princely states also got invested in industries and share market. But in spite of all this the capitalist structure in agriculture was not taking a robust shape because of elements of semi-feudalism, slavery, begar system (bonded labour system in agriculture). So land reform, technology oriented farming, high yielding variety seeds, expansion of irrigation and such measures were taken.
3.Western influences were leaving deep imprint on the thinking, practice, values (especially in the field of technology) in the middle and upper class for decades before independence was attained. In the newly independent country that western influence, mainly in technology, became US oriented within a decade.
On the other hand as far as the harmful effects of green revolution are concerned the first is stability. The yield per acre could not be sustained. Two, countries which had adopted this technology are importing food at present. Possibly the global food merchants had this aim in mind. Three, hunger of the poor has not gone down, it has risen on the contrary. Serious harms were done to ecology. The farmers are finding farming no longer profitable courtesy adoption of the expensive farming system. Besides the well off farmers, conditions of small and marginal peasants have deteriorated (92% of peasants in West Bengal are small and marginal). Most importantly, the government itself is admitting that the first green revolution technology has lost efficiency. The edge has worn out in ten years. On can go on over this, but let us stop here for the time being.
17% of world milk production, 41% of mango, 30% of cauliflower, 24% of cashewnut, 36% of green peas, 21% of sugar cane, 22% of rice, 21% of pulses, 15% of wheat, 28% of tea. Besides, there are fruits, herbs etc.
No matter how loud the leaders blow their trumpets over agricultural development, incidence of farmer suicide has been growing. Existence of crores of marginal and small farmers are at risk due to the attack of neoliberal economic policies. National Crime Records Bureau reports that between 1997 and 2008 1,99,132 farmers were forced to commit suicide. Five states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh contributed the most to this. Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra, is supposed to be the life centre of financial activities in India. The same state saw about 45000 farmer suicides. In 2008 alone Maharashtra clocked 436 and Karnataka 398 farmers suicides. In the five years 2003 to 2008 incidence of suicides has gone up by 1900 per year.
The Punjab Experience:
It is heard that Punjab has prospered a lot due to the first green revolution and the lives and livelihood of the farmers in Punjab have improved. After this propaganda the central government is preparing the grounds for the second green revolution. But what is the actual state of Punjab peasants? Of all states, the highest number of indebted farmers is in Punjab. The average level of indebtedness per agriculturist is about Rs 42000. The volume of total indebtedness is Rs 25000 crores. From 1998 to 2009, 2116 farmers have committed suicide in this state. According to non-official sources the actual number is several times more than this. About 60% of farmers are in debt. The price of the first green revolution by is being paid by small and middle peasants committing suicide. The finance minister of India Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has chosen the eastern states such as West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa for unveiling the second green revolution. In this manner, the central government has arranged for mass scale farmer suicide in these states in near future.
Due to land reforms, small and marginal farmers own most of the land in West Bengal. They have succeeded in achieving all round improvement of agriculture in the state. West Bengal is one of the major states in agricultural production. One of the sinister aims of neoliberal globalisation is to establish the dominance of capital in agricultural business. Many infamous multinational companies and capitalists of this country have entered the fray to secure their business power in agriculture. These businessmen are eager to put into practice a capital and technology intensive agricultural system. If they are successful the small and marginal farmers will either be thrown off their occupation and turn into farm labourers. Or they will choose the final option of suicide through the debt route.
It is well known that the aim of many national and international big capitalists is to grab large tracts of land, invest huge sums of money and modern technology and earn windfall profit in the agricultural business. To achieve this the first task would be to reverse whatever little land reform that has taken place. As it is, per capita land ownership is less in eastern India. After the land reform in West Bengal per family land ownership has gone down further. One of the aims of the second green revolution is to nullify the land reform system and establish the unchallenged dominance of big capitalists in place of the big landlords of yesteryears.
We must fend off this ominous future.
The Main Theme of the Second Green Revolution:
The first green revolution has failed, therefore more green revolution. We have already noted that the impact of the second wave is going to be much more lethal. The first revolution targeted capturing the market of farm implements or exporting agricultural produce after growing them domestically. The new revolution one hears is not restricted to sphere of production alone. From primary implements to the final distribution of the produce – the entire network is attempted to be swallowed up. In the first stage ordinary people could manage to benefit in a limited way through public distribution system, agriculture subsidy, internal market, procurement at remunerative price etc. There were flaws in all these. But the attack in the second stage is much more far reaching.
The main technological weapon in the second green revolution is biotechnology. Monsanto wants to exercise control over the entire seed stock of the world through this. Not only seeds the multinational corporations are keen to control over the entire animal kingdom. In cattle and fish production gene technology is already being used extensively. The multinational corporations have gained dominance over scientific research of all description. They are using scientific and technological research according to their own will and requirements. India has become part of their nefarious plan through many deals.
Genetically Modified Crop: The Main Weapon of the Second Green Revolution
BT cotton and BT brinjal: Ominous Project
If HYV seeds, chemical fertilisers, pesticides were the tools through which via the first green revolution agrarian economy of India and the third world were captured, the principal weapon of the so called second green revolution or forever green revolution is GMO or Genetically Modified Organisms. It includes cotton, potato, maize, rice, jawar, soya bean, canola, tomato, papaya and BT brinjal, the centre of the latest controversy. Gradually newer commercial crops, food grains, vegetables would be encompassed.
From the last decade of the last century a process of merger between the giant chemical companies, farm and seed monopolies started. For instance pioneer Hybreed and Dupont (1997), Novartis AG and Geneca (2002), Dow and Rohm and Has (2001) etc. These agglomerated giants started to monopolise the seed market, so that the third world farmers are not able to preserve seed, so that each year they get forced to buy seeds from Monsanto, Singenta, Dupont or Cargill at extortionary price, so that all over the world seed and crop market get monopolised by monopoly capital.
The first step in this direction is to biotechnologically modify one or two genes of crops so that the gene of a different organism gets established.
The second step, to relentlessly propagate that GM crop is more productive, pest resistant and has greater longevity. Less chemical fertilisers would needed, less harvest will get wasted – profits of the farmer would rise as a result. 90% of such propaganda is false, incomplete or based on unscientific research and lies. But agricultural scientists and researches of India would be used for the propaganda – with the help of foreign tours (in the name of training), research funding and gifts. The universities of India and the third world would be utilised for the same purpose.
In the third state, the government would be pressured to approve those untested and harmful side effects containing seeds so that they can be produced commercially for the domestic market. If need be at first the seeds would be distributed freely and they would reach the farmers through the government agricultural departments. This has happened in the case of BT cotton and attempts are being made for the same in case of BT brinjal. If things don’t work out simply extremely undemocratic and anti-national laws such as ‘Biotechnology Bill’ would be passed through the client governments.
The fourth stage is catastrophic. Within five, ten or fifteen years natural genome of all crops will get polluted through cross-pollination of infused outside genes. For example Cry 1ac gene of soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis has been infused in BT brinjal. This gene will enter the 25 varieties of brinjal in India and also other crops. Biodiversity created over thousands of years will get destroyed. It is worthwhile to recall that 2000 varieties of paddy have vanished because of the first green revolution. After 20 years perhaps only GM potato, maize and rice will be left with us.
The main game of giant companies unfolds in the fifth stage. Local seed stock has been destroyed. Only the distorted seeds of Monsanto, Syngenta are all we are left with. Farmers will have to purchase these year after year at a premium. Otherwise farmers may go to the jail or get fined courtesy patent law or the Seed Act, which is pending parliamentary approval.
The field where BT or similar crops have been cultivated get unsuitable for crops which are not genetically modified. This way the entire seed market of the country will be usurped by multinational giants or their national agent organisations.
However these high price seeds can not guarantee high crop yield. There is no certainty that the gene injected inside another crop by biotechnology, will succeed in yielding large harvest. Cotton growing areas of Vidharbha of Maharashtra is a cataclysmic example. We have discussed this elsewhere in this booklet. In short, after buying seeds and farm implements at exorbitant price, experiencing crop failure and therefore unable to pay the bank of money lender loans, thousands of BT cotton farmers have committed suicide. The suicide count exceeded 4000 in 2005-06 alone.
After soaking their hands in the blood of peasants, after doing business of billions of rupees, Monsanto (father of BT cotton) is now saying perhaps one of their GM seeds, ‘Bollgard- I’, has been a failure. Pests have become immune. Use of pesticide has not come down, neither has the yield gone up they admit. Therefore the company advices that their newest invention, two gene modified ‘Bollgard -II’ seed should be used. Massive success follow.
The false admit of error by Monsanto is part of their global business strategy. After the profit of the first stage seed has been completely appropriated they want to push the more expensive Bollgard – II. Transforming the blood and flesh of Indian peasants into profit is the blueprint of these multinational corporations.
Thus GM crops are an indispensable part of the second green revolution and India-US agricultural knowledge initiative. It’s a such sure shot ammunition to secure all-encompassing of monopoly capital over Indian agriculture.
At present the much publicised story of high productivity yielding green revolution has taken an U-turn. Fertility of soil has plummeted. Ground water level has gone down alarmingly. Many toxic and poisonous particles are being detected in water. Due to relentless and extensive application of chemical manures and inorganic pesticides rural ecology and even the forests have been damaged.
The favourite projects of the central government such as the special economic zone (SEZ), due to large scale land grab by the big capitalists in search of minerals, the supply of land available for farming has gone down significantly. Besides, in spite of many cautions the central government has refused to restore the universal rationing system. It has instead embarked on a bizarre plan to provide food grain to the poor by introducing food coupon system. All these is part of a deep treacherous behaviour pattern.
After forward trading has been given permission big capitalists have taken to hoarding of food grain and black marketing. The Vajpayee government has weakened the essential commodities act. Manmohan Singh is walking the same path. As a result, punitive actions against black marketers and hoarders have become difficult to slap. Distribution of ration cards and correctly fixing the poverty line in the states are not being executed. The poor irrespective of caste, religion or creed are unable to afford food grain. Food crisis has grown deeper and deeper.
We have already discussed that an agricultural system oriented towards open market economy is fast gaining ground. The fallout of this is that food grains would not be grown for feeding the hungry, but the main aim of the farming would be to establish commercial agriculture. Agricultural diversity is getting destroyed. Agricultural production is becoming inconsistent with the rising population growth of the country. One shudders to think what danger food crisis may portend in near future.
It has to be pointed out, all over the world food crisis is taking an increasingly dangerous dimension. As the crisis deepens, demand for food rises exponentially. Consequently, the countries which are rich in agriculture, those which grow gold from land, face the gravest dangers from ruthless land grabbing predators.
Food is for People, It is a Right, It is not for Profit:
1.Seeds and right to preserve seeds cannot be snatched away from peasants.
The deepening crisis in agricultural production and distribution is entangling the entire nation in an unprecedented crisis. To fight against this vicious present and future all progressive people, those who are committed to the cause of humanity must come together. One cannot afford to be too discerning regarding the allies, that way no meaningful resistance against the despicable conspiracy can be forged. Consolidation of the largest number of people and a commitment towards an united struggle is the need of the hour.
At the present juncture one needs development of consciousness and propagation of the same to thwart the conspiracy of the Indian capitalist who acting as junior partners of imperialist powers. Sanskriti Parishad in involved in this task. We believe in the coming days booklets of this nature would be published on a bigger scale by ensuring participation of larger number of people.