Vegetables (including soy) these days are in a sorry state with the genetically engineering, seed control, what's shown up with the spinach (polluted water irrigation) and then there are the suicides of farmers in India.
(Soy is the pretend "meat" these days. There is "Soyrizo" and "Gimme Lean" - plus tofu and all of that.)
From the Kitchen of Dr. Frankenstein
We Americans are eating a lot of genetically engineered food, and for no good reason.
Since the mid-1990s, when corn and soybean varieties began being injected with genes from bacteria and other unrelated species, we've been paying participants in a food experiment with potentially unprecedented effects on human health, the environment and food security.
By 2005, the Agriculture Department says, the vast majority of U.S. soybean acres and 52 percent of corn acres were planted with genetically engineered seed.
....Corn and soybeans are ubiquitous: tens of thousands of processed foods contain soy, and the typical consumer takes in 200 calories of high-fructose corn syrup per day. Alter the genomes of corn and soybeans, and you've altered the diet of most Americans.
Corn and soybeans are staples of animal feeds, so we're also modifying the diets of our beef cattle and milk cows, our pigs and chickens.
The price of modified seed includes a technology fee that effectively siphons off the bulk of any additional revenue farmers might gain from reduced pest damage or decreased management costs.
Many hoped that genetically engineered crops would help the environment by cutting pesticide use. We should have known that growing crops engineered to tolerate herbicides could lead to more chemical use. A 2004 analysis funded by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the introduction of engineered corn, soybeans and cotton caused a 122 million pound increase in pesticide use since 1996.
And because resistant crops have encouraged near constant use of one or two classes of herbicides, superweeds that withstand the chemicals have now emerged and will require ever more potent poisons to control.
The only clear reason why we're eating so much genetically modified food is that Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta, which together control over 25 percent of global seed sales, want us to....
On India’s Farms, a Plague of Suicide
Changes brought on by 15 years of economic reforms have opened Indian farmers to global competition and given them access to expensive and promising biotechnology, but not necessarily opened the way to higher prices, bank loans, irrigation or insurance against pests and rain.
Mr. Singh’s government, which has otherwise emerged as a strong ally of America, has become one of the loudest critics in the developing world of Washington’s $18 billion a year in subsidies to its own farmers, which have helped drive down the price of cotton for farmers like Mr. Shende.
At the same time, frustration is building in India with American multinational companies peddling costly, genetically modified seeds. They have made deep inroads in rural India — a vast and alluring market — bringing new opportunities but also new risks as Indian farmers pile up debt.
Monsanto, for instance, invented the genetically modified seeds that Mr. Shende planted, known as Bt cotton, which are resistant to bollworm infestation, the cotton farmer’s prime enemy. It says the seeds can reduce the use of pesticides by 25 percent.
The company has more than doubled its sales of Bt cotton here in the last year, but the expansion has been contentious. This year, a legal challenge from the government of the state of Andhra Pradesh forced Monsanto to slash the royalty it collected from the sale of its patented seeds in India. The company has appealed to the Indian Supreme Court.
The modified seeds can cost nearly twice as much as ordinary ones, and they have nudged many farmers toward taking on ever larger loans, often from moneylenders charging exorbitant interest rates.
Virtually every cotton farmer in these parts, for instance, needs the assistance of someone like Chandrakant Agarwal, a veteran moneylender who charges 5 percent interest a month.
He collects his dues at harvest time, but exacts an extra premium, compelling farmers to sell their cotton to him at a price lower than it fetches on the market, pocketing the profit.
His collateral policy is nothing if not inventive. The borrower signs a blank official document that gives Mr. Agarwal the right to collect the farmer’s property at any time.
Business has boomed with the arrival of high-cost seeds and pesticides. “Many moneylenders have made a whole lot of money,” Mr. Agarwal said. “Farmers, many of them, are ruined.”
Suicide rate high for India's farmers
BHADUMARI, India, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Suicides among farmers in India reached 17,107 in 2003, and anecdotal reports suggest the trend is ongoing, a report said Tuesday.
The high suicide rates have been building for years and have been attributed in part to economic troubles facing the populous South Asian nation's agriculture industry, The New York Times said.
"The suicides are an extreme manifestation of some deep-seated problems which are now plaguing our agriculture," said M.S. Swaminathan, chairman of the National Commission on Farmers. "They are climatic. They are economic. They are social."
Economic reforms have given farmers access to foreign biotechnology, but they have also opened the door for international competition. The expensive biotechnology also causes many farmers to sink deeper into debt, the Times said.
A study by Srijit Mishra, a professor at the Bombay-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, found that 86.5 percent of farmers who committed suicide were in debt, 40 percent had their crops fail and more than half owned less than five acres of land.
Farmers' suicide toll 253 in Vidarbha (India - this year as of 9.15) and more continue.