As we mentioned a few months ago, the Green Revolution in the late ‘60s had many adverse consequences which are not widely known. In addition to introducing new hybrid seeds which were highly dependent on man-made fertilizers and pesticides, the overuse of chemicals poisoned water sources and led to loss of land fertility.
CHS’ co-founder Winin Pereira, when working with the Maharashtra Prabodhan Seva Mandal, took the [manipulated] Rothamstead research results at face value and so advised its farmers to use the technology, until – after a few years comparing the soils and yields of tribal people who had not done so – he realised that its promises were false.
Green revolution as a kind of holocaust
Devinder Sharma revisited the subject [see Ground Reality] after reading the Economic Survey 2011 proposal to strengthen Green Revolution in eastern India as the probable route to increase food production:
“The Green Revolution has played havoc with the intensively farmed regions in India. The use and abuse of chemical inputs have already taken a heavy toll. Soils are poisoned, environment is contaminated, aquifers have gone dry, and the resulting the food chain has become unhealthy. The devastation wrought by the NPK model of agriculture*, and the application of chemical pesticides, has in many ways caused a kind of a Holocaust that remains hidden from public glare.” This refers to the huge number of farmer suicides, many of which can be attributed directly or indirectly to this regime.
Sharma believes that the destruction inflicted by the Green Revolution has been deliberately kept under wraps. Why? As usual, a likely suspect is vested interest. Ashok Gulati of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) was seen on TV saying that extending Green Revolution to eastern India would provide a sustained supply of surplus food for the next 30 years or so. However Sharma sees IFPRI as being essentially a public relations agency for agribusiness industry masquerading as a research institute.
He finds that when the devastation brought about by the Green Revolution techniques is described, ‘the entire scientific community rises in chorus to defend it’. At a time when Indian policy makers/agricultural scientists/economists are lauding the virtues of Green Revolution, ‘because they rarely step out of their air-conditioned offices’, he writes that it is heartening to find that a young Dutch researcher has been able to portray the ‘evils of Green Revolution’.
Tom Deiters’ plan
Tom Deiters came to India six years ago to carry out research on farmer suicides in Lehragaga area, and – moved by the destruction that the pesticides were wreaking – made a documentary, ‘Toxic Tears: A tale of many Punjab villages’, to alert other states in India, like Bihar, who want to follow in the Punjab’s footsteps. It was based on the findings recorded in his Masters thesis [International Relations] at the University of Amsterdam.
He spoke to Priya Yadav, Times of India, about the evils of the so-called “green revolution” which are so stark in Punjab. Farmers borrowed money at outrageous rates from agents, many doubling up as agents of pesticides and fertilizers, and the debt-related suicides have not been acknowledged.
Tom Deiters sees organic farming as a way out and is trying to map organic farmers in Punjab and start a self-help group, learning from each other’s experience and marketing their produce together.