The recent decision by the Government to allow GMO crops to be manufactured and researched in India has predictably angered the brainless leftist communist zombies in the country. The left opposes GMO under the garb of opposing corporatisation of the farming industry in the west and the socialist zombies in India, lacking the brain of their own as usual, have copied the western template to build momentum against GMO here in India. However, it is frightening to see that even the right wing Indians, who are usually more rational and make informed choices, also seem to have taken up and internalised the propaganda against GMO crops and oppose it out of paranoia against the western products and labelled GMO as part of Videshi colonisation. The overwhelming majority of the materials on the internet is against the use of GMO crops and is usually based on half-educated, paranoid and pseudo-scientific drivel with no basis of reality whatsoever. Read about some of the common misconceptions about GMO here.
Why the left opposes GMO?
The most important reason the communist zombies oppose the introduction of GMO crops is that it is just another form of foreign imperialism and as per their intellectual leanings, any form of foreign investment, except those that directly fund the communist anti-development elements in the country like Naxals, anti-Kudandkulam protesters, anti-Narmada Dam protesters etc, is bad for the country whether or not such position reflects reality. Of course, much like any socialist stance on pretty much any topic, this does not reflect reality and one can clearly see the lies when logically analysing the issue.
Next and equally baseless allegation that the left makes against GMO is that it will lead to destruction of alternative non-GMO crops and GMO corporations will monopolize the crop and seed market. This is again far removed from reality because the ultimate decision on what seed to use is again going to lie with the farmers. This myth is so prevalent today that it goes completely unchallenged in most TV debates and commentaries on this issue. But this is simply not true as having IPR does not mean people are forced to use a product if it is not beneficial. No matter how many GMO crops are introduced into the market, the ultimate decision on whether or not to use them is going to be with farmers and not the corporate heads of the GMO crops. No one has the power to force GMO crops on the farmers as Indian markets are still fairly free and the government democratic and neither is run by reality denying socialist zombies to force farmers into using the crops they really don’t want to grow themselves. Yes, advertisements can entice farmers to adopt a new technology but they won’t stick with the new technology unless it benefits them more compared to the older variety of crops.
So how will it work on the ground? If the farmers in India find that the extra yields from GMO crops are very good and give high profits clearly offsetting the extra initial down payment in the form of buying GMO seeds, then they will plant GMO crops in larger numbers next crop cycle and the word of mouth would result in even larger numbers of farmers adopting GMO crops to increase their yields. If the GMO crops prove to be nothing but hot air and do not lead to increase in yield to justify the higher cost of GMO seeds, then the farmers would just stop buying the high cost seeds and go back to the traditional seeds for cultivation, because they are smart and have a brain unlike the socialist zombies who lack common sense. So, the destruction of alternate and better non-GMO varieties by GMO crops hardly makes any sense.
As such, without any government or socialist intervention, the GMO crops would find their place in the society and market through simple profit and loss arithmetic. The best example for such adoption is Gujarat. When rest of India decided to say no to BT cotton, ably brainwashed by the anti-GMO activists about the evils of corporate BT seeds, the then Gujarat government under the then CM and current PM Modi openly adopted BT cotton. It was one of the reasons why a semi-desert state like Gujarat was so successful in out producing Maharashtra, the traditional leader in cotton production.
The worst allegation by the communist intellectuals against GMO crops is that it is anti-poor. This is particularly pathetic allegation to make because by denying a chance to cultivate GMO crops, which have the potential to even be engineered to fight poor rainfall and poor irrigation, the leftists deny the right of poor farmers to cultivate right crop varieties that suit their climatic and soil condition to maximise their profits. It is disgusting to see that the same fake intellectuals go on mainstream TV and claim as champions of farmers after denying their right to modern technology in the name of opposing corporations. Normal people should ask themselves is allowing poor farmers to starve and condemning them to perpetual poverty by denying them access to modern technology , one of which is GMO crops, really a good thing for India and poor Indian farmers, all because of the buzzword of anti-corporatisation created by the braindead communist elite?
Another claim against GMO crops is that these crops come with associated intellectual property rights(IPR)and will be bad for Indian farmers and industry. One can look at the evidence from past where Indian markets allowed foreign players to operate and see if this statement holds any water. For example, when motor bikes were introduced in India by Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda etc, did it lead to monopoly by any of them? Now the bike industry is filled with Indian manufacturers like TVS, Bajaj motors, Hero as well and they have taken a sizeable share of the market and eliminated the threat of any western monopoly. Or take the case of mobile phones in the Indian market. When the smart phones were introduced in Indian market, the only manufacturers of them were Korean and Japanese companies and one or two American companies but today Micromax has risen up as a valid competitor to these foreign companies, along with several other desi alternatives, again crushing the argument that opening of the market to foreign corporations will lead to monopoly. Or take the case of TV sets some 20 years back before liberalisation of Indian markets. The inky TV sets in India manufactured by Solitaire were awful in quality. Compare how liberalising the markets in the consumer goods led to widespread fall in price of TV sets along with less monopoly and better quality available for the average Indian consumer.
The important point to note here is that none of the Indian companies like Hero, Bajaj, Mocromax, Dish TV etc would have been able to become world class like they are now without actually exposing them to open market and global economy and competition. Another very important example to note is the effect that open markets have had on Indian Pharma industry and how it has grown so big that it is giving American companies nightmares on just hearing the world Indian Pharma, which was not possible before 1991. The same will be the case with GMO crops too, and opening the markets to them will help tremendously in creation of Swadesi GMO corporations and if India plays its cards right, India will become an unquestioned leader of the GMO market in the future, specially given the fact that many ideological stunted clowns around the world have taken an opposition to GMO based on paranoia and hence Indians will face little competition whatsoever in the next big future of the agriculture industry.
The same IPR argument is sometimes twisted by quoting the market power of evil Monsanto which will crush the poor farmers due to high prices it will charge for GMO seeds. Suddenly with the mention of Monsanto, the leftists manage to divert the argument from market based solution to fight against one evil capitalist firm called Monsanto. But market power depends on how open the field is for competition. Given above examples, there is no reason to believe that Indian firms cannot compete with foreigners given that the GMO industry is still in nascent stage and has to see a lot of development. The Pharma industry again serves a good example on how India can move ahead on GMO policy. GoI defied IPR on crucial drugs and helped Indian firms to manufacture cheap generics. The same template can be applied to GMO during early phases till Indian firms grow enough to challenge the western competitors and can produce cheap varieties suited for Indian markets. There is no reason to believe that with a well developed and competitive indigenous GMO market, Indian farmers would not be able to get a better deal than they are getting currently.
Many Indians don’t know that India has the largest area under cultivation for any country in the world(see above table), while also having the largest time window for cultivation but its food production does not reflect this abundance. The biggest reason for low per hectare yields of Indian agriculture is the lack of farm modernity. Since most farmers are marginal in India and have very small land holdings, their ability to use high yield techniques is very limited since many modern techniques have high initial cost associated with them. So the introduction of GMO crops can help offset at least some of the negatives with Indian agriculture today. Some GMO crops can be genetically modified to use less water and withstand droughts which can help in expanding the areas under cultivation in India, to even places which would otherwise be non-cultivable. GMO crops can be genetically engineered to produce Vitamin A or other such micro-nutrients within them which can help in preventing vitamin deficiency and the resulting blindnesses in poor Indian children. When the country is malnourished to the tune of 50%, it is a cruel joke to prevent potential technologies which would increase the yield and quality of agriculture. If the uninformed middle class and top elites and scaremongering lunatics on the left are so threatened by things they don’t know, they are free to not adopt GMO crops and can actively avoid them by demanding to label GMO products explicitly like the current green vegetarian mark on food packets. But they should stop burdening the already impoverished, malnourished poor children of India, who would stand to benefit immensely from food fortification and better quality food produced by GMO crops, just for the sake of their ideology and paranoia.
The next article in this series will counter the anti-GMO propaganda digested by those on the Indian Right.