21 thoughts on “The GMO-Suicide Myth

  1. Webmaster

    Dear Ms. Kloor,

    I am a simple man, retired with my wife from the high-pressure corporate world of New Jersey to WNC ten years ago. I am a conservative by nature with my father having served on Okinawa in WWII and one of my sons in Afghanistan for one short tour.

    Because I was raised when America was at its peak in the 1950’s, I know what real freedom looks like before the new age of the socialist activists developed from a young generation of Americans looking for free stuff.

    I was brought up when there were mortgage burning parties and the only thing a family might get a loan for outside the home was a family car. Everything else was basically paid for in cash, Americans proud to be on their own wanting little or no assistance from the feds. My father didn’t belong to any church nor was required to. I became a Christian in the late 30’s, discouraged today with the politics of the church but not in its founder.

    I started a tiny hobby Web site eight years ago that I still receive no income from, which has grown to a conservative Web portal where busy folks can check the news from close to 70 posted Web sites. My site started by helping people find jobs with my having been downsized. The URL, however, quickly morphed to the domain name of Freedom is knowledge when I watched what was happening in the pre election days of 2007.

    I have been sending out a weekend e-mail for about three years on the summary of the week’s news to a short e-mail list of retired military and professionals. To that end I received an e-mail from one of those on my list today, a retired Army officer with 22 years of service, his talking about if I knew about Indians committing suicide over genetically modified crops.

    I did a quick search and came across the name of Vandana Shiva with a 2014 article printed in the New Yorker Magazine. Then I come across your excellent calming post mentioning the names of Bill Moyer, Greenpeace, and the Huffington Post, which I am banned from leaving comments on. So I don’t need much more to figure out what’s going on, remembering the Obama administration’s mission statement to never allow a good crisis go to waste.

    I saw your post noted two comments were left and felt you needed to know your words fell on fertile ground today. I will also be sending your article to my Army friend. And I will also post it in one of my e-mails going out to continue to support my warnings of the dangerous politically correct world we live in today. It is where Obama’s activists can go from holding their hands up saying don’t shoot to a nationwide movement that quickly morphs back to Obama’s Marxist OWS supported by the ideology of radicals such as Cloward and Piven. Pelosi at the time said God had blessed the OWS.

    My chores for the day of cleaning the bathrooms and cooking a special dinner for friends tomorrow is calling, so I need to go. Like I said, I am a simple man. By the way we had a former neighbor, a priest, who lived next to us for a few years from Brooklyn, discovering that green grass took more time to care for than hosing down cement.

    Best regards,


  2. Buzz

    Nice article. Did Monsanto write it for you? If that isn’t the biggest POS blaming the victim article and everything BUT Monsanto’s aggressive royalty fees and pushing banks to NOT extend credit. As well as going after farmers as they do in America if one of their precious seeds drifts over to another farmer’s fields for stealing their product and even taking the family land.

    The highest acreage of Bt cotton is in Maharashtra and this is also where the highest farmer suicides are. Suicides increased after Bt cotton was introduced — Monsanto’s royalty extraction, and the high costs of seed and chemicals have created a debt trap. According to Government of India data, nearly 75 per cent rural debt is due to purchase inputs. As Monsanto’s profits grow, farmers’ debt grows. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto’s seeds are seeds of suicide.

    So your article smacks of legal teams making it up and having it printed here as though it is the last word on the subject.
    IT IS NOT.

  3. Vivek

    Keith, what do you say to the fact that cotton yield per hectare in India has essentially remained unchanged from 2004-05(470 kg) to 2011-12(481 kg), even as the acreage under Bt cotton increased from 6% to 90%?

  4. Prakash

    Why a farmer commits suicide
    • A farmer never pays any tax
    • Most of the farmers are given free electricity & water.
    • Many of their loans exempted once new government comes.
    • They have given low interest loan on their purchases of farming equipment.

    Still why a farmer commits suicide??
    Before we find the answers we should find reason influencing it

    • Working / Business men pays tax ( so many taxes )
    • Working / Business men has to pay all his loans with high interest & penalty ( no mercy )
    • For Working / Business men everything is charged road, electricity, water etc. nothing is free

    The most influencing answer is here

    • Working / business men left out with less money after all their taxes to purchase what local farmer supplies to market; he goes for cheaper food alternatives.
    • The farmer is weakened because of drop in his profit even though he has no taxes he can’t find a prospective buyer
    • The farmer cannot bear the overheads of family and commits suicide motivated by the compensation offered by government for his death to save his family
    Final out come
    • Working / Business men continue paying more and more taxes to fund the government to give compensation to a dead farmer and money spent by our pro farmer ministers for their boosting rallies and vote banking favouring farmers with their generous contributions ( with tax payers money)
    • Again the real buyer left out with few money and look for cheaper food stuff and one more farmer dies.
    The truth is Working / Business men pays for the welfare of farmers not the one who are giving big speeches ……….Dear back bone of India (farmers ) please understand it , don’t waste time on listening to unethical politicians who are not even aware without a prospective buyer the producer never survives

    1. James Turner

      Monsanto has been known in both its previous incarnation with agent orange, and its current manifestation to have been not fully honest with the public. rBST(rBGH) is still used without its consumers knowing by using political loopholes, and was caught by The USDA who is forcing it to be removed. This economic machine has far to many moving parts in the chain of command to be understood by anyone who does not at least work for the company. Consider this; Food inc used information directly from american farmers that GMO soy “drifted” into their fields and then were sued by Monsanto for using their patented soy gene. But how did a hybrid crop that produces a yield of crop which cant be pollinated, spread to an organic farm? I leave that inference to you.
      Another problem is that Indian farmers have claimed on camera, regardless of how truthful they were being, that Monsanto is oppressing them. Monsanto may not be the main source of the problem, but Monsanto is connected enough to make a farmer say they are an issue. And if he/she is lying, then why would they be? They would have to had something against monsanto in general. If that is true, then you may just be brushing the surface of what the real issue those farmers are having.

      (personally I do belive Monsanto has good intentions in most, if not all of its actions as a company, but occasionally reaps negative results)

      Works Cited
      “USDA ERS – Corn: Background.” USDA ERS – Corn: Background. USDA, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 29 June 2016. .

      World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates: August 1983. Place of Publication Not Identified: Not Avail, 2013. USDA ERS USDA, 12 July 2013. Web. 29 June 2016. .

      “Agent Orange Record.” Agent Orange Record. War of Legacies Project, 2010. Web. 30 June 2016. .

      Grotto, Jason, and Tim Jones. “Agent Orange: For U.S., a Record of Neglect.” Tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Chicago Tribune, 04 Dec. 2009. Web. 30 June 2016. .

      “U.S. and Monsanto Dominate Global Market for GM Seeds.” U.S. and Monsanto Dominate Global Market for GM Seeds. Organic Consumers, n.d. Web. 30 June 2016. .

      “Who We Are.” Company History. Monsanto, n.d. Web. 30 June 2016. .

      “Monsanto Urges FDA to Stop “misleading” RBST-free Labeling.” Monsanto Urges FDA to Stop “misleading” RBST-free Labeling. Non GMO Report, n.d. Web. 30 June 2016. .

      “Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone.” Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. Cancer.org, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 June 2016. .
      Kenner, Robert. “Food, Inc.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 30 June 2016. .

  5. Brenda Kwon

    Apologies: this is the edited version.

    While you spend a great deal of time emphasizing that there is no connection between Bt cotton and the suicides of Indian farmers, there’s very little here exploring what is at the root of those suicides, so your article’s intent seems less to truly investigate that phenomemom than it is to defend Montsanto and discredit Vandana Shiva. There is a more complex relationship between industrial agriculture and the debts incurred by these failed farmers. One need not go much further than to look at Montsanto’s not-so-private history of bankrupting farmers on American soil to see the economic politics involved in their policies and tactics. The suicides are real, and they are by marginal farmers who have no money to buy Montsanto products; neither are they simply cotton farmers. The presence of large-scale agribusiness has damaging effects environmentally and socially. To call attention to that is not to jump on a bandwagon, as you suggest here.

  6. Dr. Paul Blake, ND

    This article left out one very important problem cotton has. The more you grow it the more it depletes your soil. So if BT is successful at one end it kills your soil at the other.
    —“A historic example of nutrient depletion is the depletion of soils in the southeastern United States by the growing of cotton. As late as 1950, “King Cotton” was the most valuable farm commodity produced in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.”

    Plant Life: Soil Degradation,

    1. Scott

      I find your comments about cotton depleting the soil to be very interesting, I would be interested in hearing if you have proposals that solve the problem. I have my own issues with GM crops period, but I try to maintain an open mind, and let the passage of time reveal what is true and not.

  7. sureshpal dhaliwal

    Dear Mr. Kloor

    I found your article refreshing. I do believe that Dr. Vandana has ulterior motives for propagating the myth relating Monsanto and indian farmer suicides. Her assumption is rather naive. One wonders who finances her global trips and her office. As they say follow the money trail and her motives will be uncovered.


    1. USCALI

      Dr. Shiva is a trained scientist. If her logic was faulty and naiive would the whole world believe in it?
      FYI – everyone on this planet has some “ulterior” motives and so do you…

  8. Mark Phillips

    As Mr. Blake alludes to here, the more important issue is not GM crops per se but the aggregate affect of ignoring soil health. Natural system based agricultural techniques such as Agroforestry and agroecology, which fundamentally focus on building healthy soil, are the answer to sustainable food production. Corporate controlled, industrial agriculture, which is mentioned repeatedly but not problematized, is what drives soil degradation whether or not GM crops are the culprit. Effective policies would look at the Indian suicides systemically, offering programs, services, and market incentives that encourage stewardship of the soil. In this situation, Monsanto’s primary concern is not to feed the world, but to maximize profits. This is why the seeds are patented, and this is why, beyond Monsanto, the ecosystem for financing agriculture is designed for extracting money from rural Indian farmers, as opposed to allowing them to take the necessary time for nurturing soil health. Addressing this issue over the long term will require providing viable pathways to land and soil stewardship and, ultimately, empowerment of the rural Indian farmer. This is what Vandana Shiva and other like-minded activists are actually interested in solving but which the government and scientific community at large is incapable of acknowledging. Healthy soil = healthy food = healthy societies = healthy economies.

    1. Don Heller

      You point out that cotton is hard on soil. The fact that a farmer uses or does not use bt cotton does not affect that. The farmers there should do what the farmers here do. Most of the cotton farmers on the Rolling Plains of Texas will rotate wheat or sesame into the rotation to help the soil. Regardless of the type of cotton used the farmers should find a rotation crop.

      Shiva cares nothing for the farmer or the soil. She cares to promote her name and her religion of natural farming. That notion will starve the population because her natural farming methods are not effective. Dr Norman Borloug warned against letting people like her have the ability to this important tool away from the farmers. These people who want to remove GM from the tool box of farmers are the people who will have to answer for the deaths of billions who will starve because we cannot keep up with the growth of the population.

  9. John Goss

    Well spoken Webmaster. GMO crops might make certain seeds, plants, areas more productive, insect resistant and fecund in the short term but the long-term effects are not known, the unplanned factors are not known. It is dangerous science funded by those who have the most financially to gain.

  10. Ace

    You very cleverly say something without actually saying anything at all. You dance around the topic with quotes and references, but it never really goes anywhere. GMO’s are linked to failed crops, which in turn leads to higher debt for farmers, which ultimately leads to suicide.

    You are just ignoring the issue.

  11. Mac Andrews

    The RT documentary proves beyond doubt the link between the hoodwinking of Indian farmers, and the monopoly on seed that Monsanto has engineered. The inflated price of the seed and the unsuitability of the seed for the conditions for most farmers (the need for irrigation that they cannot provide) leaves them producing inferior quality cotton that sells for a fraction of the production costs. Monsanto – what a great business model!

  12. Blake

    Unfortunately, for anyone who has never studied the environmental justice movement and [innumerable] cases of environmental racism, it is hard to swallow that YES there is purposeful destabilization of agricultural/ecological systems in other countries. This causes two new economic avenues for the US, providing arms deals to countries who then go to war over resource depletion, and, for the pharmaceutical industry to sell the drugs needed when populations obtain diseases related to diet and nutrition changes and ecological destruction. The thing that honestly pisses me off in this whole debate is how those who favor Monsanto end up spinning it into being over whether GMO’s are good or bad. This is all an ethics issue. These are farmers who have had a history of subsistence farming, relationship with the land and it’s ecology, husbandry which includes relating to the animal before ending its life-the green revolution forced industrial agriculture on certain countries and changed their entire way of life to model that of the US, which some uphold as the standard of the globe (furthering the colonialist mindset/agenda). You say look at the yield, I say look at the happiness of the people, their wellbeing. You have become completely brainwashed to accept figures and measures as a reflection of good standing. Capitalism is a disease of the mind.

  13. rissala

    those who favor Monsanto end up spinning it into being over whether GMO’s are good or bad. This is all an ethics issue. These are farmers who have had a history of subsistence farming, relationship with the land and it’s ecology, husbandry which includes relating to the animal before ending its life-the green revolution forced industrial agriculture on certain countries and changed their entire way of life to model that of the US, which some uphold as the standard of the globe (furthering the colonialist mindset/agenda). You say look at the yield, I say look at the happiness of the people, their wellbeing. You have become completely brainwashed to accept figures and measures as a reflection of good standing. Capitalism is a disease of the mind.

  14. Angela

    Human dignity and human life matter. And we MUST be willing to do something to help people in distress who feel the need to take their own lives. But removing GM crops from India is not going to solve this problem. Take a look at this comprehensive 2012 study which analyzes suicides in India. Although those in rural areas have a higher suicide rate than in urban areas, farmers are three times less likely to commit suicide than non-workers or other laborers. Most deaths are however caused from ingesting pesticides. So there are many ways to intervene: limiting access to pesticides, focusing on crop diversity and efficient agricultural practices, bank lending and debt reduction policies are just a few (to address farmer suicide). If people want to oppose GMO companies, that’s fine – they certain have their faults. But if people actually want to prevent farmer suicides (or suicides in general in India) then there are more effective avenues to pursue.



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