In a Nutshell
Monsanto’s (exorbitantly expensive) genetically modified seeds and ineffective pesticides have destroyed the sustainable farming industry of India. To keep their land, farmers take out huge loans, but when they are unable to pay them back, hundreds of thousands of despondent farmers have killed themselves to escape their obligations.
The Whole Bushel
Considered by many to be the most evil corporation in the world, Monsanto is a perennial favorite for popping up in discussions of capitalist greed. In their goal to corner the entire global food market, the company has their fingers in a lot of pies, but are best known for their stake in GMOs (genetically modified organisms). The company holds a great deal of sway over every agrarian society on earth, particularly in India, where farmers live on the razor-thin margins between life and death.
Indian farmers have begun taking their lives in staggering numbers, more than a quarter million in the last two decades, a trend the Daily Mail has termed the “Genetically Modified Genocide.” According to a paper published by New York University, 17,638 farmers killed themselves in 2009 (one every half-hour). While farming might be among the most ancient of all professions, it is not immune to the changing tide of technology. Desperate to preserve their way of life, farmers are forced to take usurious loans to pay for Monsanto seeds and pesticides just to stay afloat.
Even under optimal conditions, a farmer with several acres of land makes less than a dollar a day. India is already cripplingly poor; 25 percent of the population lives under the poverty line (mandated by the government at approximately 40 cents a day). One bad growing season (whether caused by drought, infestations, or expensive chemicals that just didn’t work) leaves a farmer with tragically few options. He can default on his loan, lose his land and live as a beggar, or end things once and for all. In a truly ugly twist of irony, the farmers often kill themselves by drinking the very pesticides that were supposed to save them, leaving behind helpless families.