YouTube Added: 30.08.2012
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Our morning ritual speaks of our love affair with cotton: we throw off crisp cotton sheets, shower and dry ourselves with thick cotton towels, sweep fluffy cotton balls over our face, then slip on cotton panties, socks, t-shirts, jeans and jackets. With cotton so much in demand, we ask growers and seed developer Monsanto if the trade is fair, in a film that beats to the ancient rhythms of cotton production.
India is the world’s second largest producer, one of the largest consumers and one of the largest producers of organic cotton. Rural life revolves around it. Barefoot farmers plough their cotton fields. Traditional handlooms work the yarn – weavers working for wages their children would never accept. When the cotton is “sized” huge swathes of fabric run through the village.
Since 2002 India has replaced almost all its native varieties with genetically modified seeds – known as BT cotton – containing toxins that destroy pests. The price of cotton seed has soared from 9 rupees a kilo to a staggering 4,000. The cotton farmer’s life is a hard one; they treat their crops “like children,” since wildlife may destroy them and “man is so dependent on money.” Children toil in the fields for less than $2 a day.
Monsanto says farmers buy seeds developed with its technology as they have confidence in their yields. But Greenpeace claims GM farmers get into 80% more debt. Farmers blame suppliers when their seed turns out to be sterile: “Everything they said was a lie.” Experts examine plants and fail to find male/female parts to them. Monsanto denies its seeds carry a “Terminator” gene but Tiruvadi Jagadisan – former head of Monsanto India – alleges they do: “Introducing genetically modified seeds is murder!” Continue reading »