Cultural Imperialism and the Seeds of Catastrophe: Ripping Up The Social Fabric of India
Date Written: 11/09/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21430
Foreign capital is dictating the prevailing development agenda in India. The aim is to replace current structures with a system of industrial agriculture suited to the needs of Western agribusiness, food processing and retail concerns.The plan is for a fraction of the population left in farming working on contracts for large suppliers and large chain supermarkets offering a diet of highly processed, denutrified, genetically altered food based on crops soaked with chemicals and grown in increasingly degraded soils according to an unsustainable model of agriculture that is less climate/drought resistant, less diverse and unable to achieve food security.
In his report for The Ecologist, Oliver Tickell notes that for millennia, cereals were grown as landraces. Every field would include maybe half a dozen separate cereal species, divisible into as many as 200 varieties. Each would embody considerable genetic diversity. During the 19th century, however, farmers began to pick out specific lines that yielded higher returns under ideal agronomic conditions. Then, in search of greater stability and uniformity, crop breeders selected single seeds from these lines, bulked them up over successive plantings, then named and marketed them as distinct varieties.
Shortly before the first world war, these named varieties were hybridised in search of the ideal combination of agronomic qualities, putting together, for example, traits for large seed heads and short straw to increase yields yet further (under ideal conditions) and increase profitability for efficient farmers.
As a result, plant breeders eradicated genetic diversity. As crops are genetically uniform, they can no longer evolve in the field to withstand insects and fungi and have to be constantly sprayed with pesticides. Moreover, the short straw length means that more of the plants energy goes into the grain but then they cant grow up above the weeds, so the system relies on repeated use of herbicides.