Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has once again reminded us of his often repeated cliché: There is no alternative. At the recent 83rd Foundation Day meeting of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, he said a second Green Revolution is the answer to agricultural problems and food needs. He meant there is no alternative. Green Revolution, a package of crop management, started in mid-1960s. Experience has shown that Green Revolution is nothing but chemicalisation of Indian agriculture.
In the last forty years, Indian agriculture has witnessed continuous degradation of fertile soils, increase in salinity, increase in fallow acres, chemical residues in foods, soil, water and vegetation, loss of traditional seeds and biodiversity. And, increase in yield. But, then there was also increase in investment costs, rising expenditure on health, depletion of groundwater, contamination of water bodies and increase in ‘commercial crop’ acreage.
With a whole set of ‘Green Revolution’ policies pursued for the past seven Five-year plans, there was also an ‘evolution of greed’ – conversion of land, water and vegetation into ‘cash’. Pesticide and chemical usage has become rampant. Cancer has become extensive. In some rural areas, pollution is much worse than a dense industrial area. Punjab, the model of Green Revolution, is now reduced to run cancer trains from Bhatinda and Amritsar to New Delhi. Nitrogen levels in the blood of a rural Punjabi is more than that is found in the soil. Endosulphan has wrought havoc in the lives of people in Kerala and Karnataka plantations. Warangal has become a `killing field’ for farmers exposed to pesticides. Vijayawada has become a centre for kidney diseases borne out of polluted water flowing from agricultural fields into water bodies.
Water shortages have increased in rural India. There is more and more clamour for big, mega irrigation projects, threatening to displace more and more traditional Indian families. This has increased the ‘greed’ of politicians, bureaucrats and corporates. Food production might have increased, but land under food crops has declined. Variety of food is continuously dropping. Millets have become a rarity and are becoming a rich person’s table diet from poor persons roj ki roti. India is exporting ‘cheaply’ by externalizing the environmental costs of growing commercial crops.
Now a second Green Revolution is being talked about, with active support from Manmohan Singh, Sharad Pawar and Montek Singh Ahluwalia. While the first phase was about ‘chemicalisation of Indian agriculture’, the second Green Revolution is all about `Corporatisation of Indian agriculture’. Right from seed production, through crop management, to marketing and exports, the government wants to encourage big corporate and multinationals. The package of policies for second Green Revolution are shocking and would once again take India into ‘colonialism’.
This process is being aided by the Free Trade Agreements and bilateral agreements with United States of America and Europe. India, under the second Green Revolution, is set to become a ‘testing’ ground for more than 15 GM food crops, and Indian population is likely to be a guinea pig. It is already. Bt cotton seeds, with deadly toxin, are used for producing oil, which is the second largest source of cooking oil in India now. Because it is cheap. GM soya and GM soya products such as chips are being imported from US, without any labeling or restrictions. A modern and scientific Europe applies caution and invokes ‘precautionary principle’.
In India, the PM would tell us that there is no alternative but to ‘eat GM foods and promote multinational companies’. Second Green Revolution, apart from policies, in action is nothing but “Americanisation of Indian food production”.