Farmers setting fire to Bt cotton crop destroyed by pink bollworm to mark the inauguration of a conference in Raichur on Sunday.— PHOTO: SANTOSH SAGAR
‘Corporate companies have turned our food and water into poison’
Referring to corporate control over the farm sector and the resultant agrarian crisis and farmer suicide, writer Devanur Mahadeva said that an invisible war was being waged against the working class. He was addressing a State-level farmers conference at the APMC Market Yard here on Sunday after inaugurating the event by burning Bt cotton plants destroyed by pink bollworm pest attack.
The event was organised jointly by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), the Jana Sangram Parishath (JSP), the Grameena Krishi Cooli Karmikara Sanghatane, the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, the Hyderabad Karnataka Raitha Sangha, the State Bt Cotton Eradication Committee and other organisations.
“If we look around with sensitivity, we find an invisible imperialist war being waged on the working class. Unlike the wars in the past, this war is invisible. Imperialist forces have turned our food and water into poison. Our soil and seed are being killed. The farmers who have grown crops with the seeds provided by corporate companies are getting killed. It is a war being waged by imperialist forces on the common people. In the pre-Independence era, only one company plundered us. Now, hundreds of foreign companies are looting us,” he said.
Mr. Mahadeva focussed on Bt cotton crop destroyed by pink bollworm pest attack in Raichur and other districts despite the claims of Bt cotton seed producers that they resistant to pests.
“Bt cotton cultivation is proving to be fatal for farmers. Impact of Bt cotton is similar to that of an explosion of nuclear bomb. The Bt cotton fields are being destroyed by the pest forcing the farmers to prepare a noose from the same cotton fibre that they are growing,” he said.
Mr. Mahadeva criticised successive Indian governments for serving their imperialist masters by formulating pro-corporate and anti-farmer agrarian policies.
“As many as 38 countries in the world have banned Bt cotton cultivation. But India didn’t do it. For multinational corporations, India, and its people, have become a laboratory for their research,” he said.
Mr. Mahadeva called upon the people to wean away from corporate-driven agriculture and gradually move towards sustainable natural farming. “We need to be more sensitive and get united for a larger fight for protecting Indian agriculture from corporate onslaught,” he said.
Chamarasa Malipatil, State president of KRRS, demanded that the government hold Bt cotton seed companies responsible for crop destruction in the pest attack and compel them to pay compensation to affected farmers.
“The seed producing companies had claimed that Bt cotton crop was resistant to pink bollworm pest. However, the very same pest has destroyed the crop in the State. The government should hold the seed producers responsible and force them to pay compensation,” he said. He also demanded disbursement of relief to all drought-hit farmers both in rain-fed and irrigated areas and farm loan waiver.
The conference was presided over by Raghavendra Kushtagi, State working president of Jana Sangram Parishath. Amaranna Gudihal, Bandeppa Gowda, Lakshman Gowda, Mahadevi, Yatiraj, Venkatesh Patil Watagal and Eeranna Bengali were present.