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BT Brinjal February 16, 2010
I’ve been following the story of the BT Brinjal for a while now and the government’s decision is great news. Most agriculture in the US is controlled by a handful of companies who decide how many varieties of seeds are planted, how much is grown, and what foods finally find their way to the supermarket and to the dinner table.
Monsanto owns around 90% of IP on seeds in the US. Farmers not using Monsanto seeds could be found guilty of stealing protected property even if their crops happen to be cross pollinated by Monsanto crops! Given our record of dealing with MNC’s – Union Carbide anyone? – I don’t think small farmers need to be jointly owned by crushing debt and MNC’s. We have driven enough farmers to suicide without having to add a Monsanto to their list of worries. You can find a few more examples here..
I am not against bioengineering itself. G.M. foods (unlike GM cars, ha ha terrible joke) are most likely the way of the future. We do need stronger IP laws protecting our music, movies, software, and novels (after the way Aamir Khan and his friends ripped off 5 Point Someone). I’m not sure having a company own the IP on all our food is the right way to go. The solution I’m imagining involves heavier government intervention, indigenously developed seeds and more education and freedom for our farmers to grow what they choose and for consumers to know more about what they’re eating.
At the end of it all, it’s consumers who must fight for their own interests. And it’s people like us who need to be aware of what’s happening and fight not just for ourselves but also for those who can’t read a newspaper let alone understand the issues that impact them. We seem to think that all protests and rallies are evil indicators of a government not doing it’s job right. We seem to forget that we can’t outsource thinking about important issues that affect us to a bunch of people in parliament (or the assembly) and spend our time in the pursuit of money and multiplex movies.
The more I see what capitalism in America, the more I feel pure capitalism is not what India truly needs. Wal-mart, Big Banks, Monsanto, the fast food industry, a fee for everything and reality television may be right for America. But our roadside chaat stands, the State Bank of India and Ekta Kapoor serials might just be good enough for us.