From "Heroin and Cornflakes" blog
The story of the Green Revolution began when, in 1943, the Rockefeller Foundation dispatched a team of agricultural experts to Mexico to set up a research program on local grains.
Soon to head the research was agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, the so called father of the "green revolution". (1)
His research program soon paid off with effective results. He used groundbreaking breeding techniques to produce disease-resistant varieties of wheat that produced much more grain than local strains.
By 1951, the disease-resistant wheat strains were widely established and a new wheat/fertilizer package was developed that gave high yields accompanied by newly developed irrigation lands of Mexico.
This initiated a rapid growth in overall wheat yields, which rose from some 770 pounds per acre in 1952 to over 2,900 by 1964 in the newly irrigated areas. (2)
This yield increase appeared to arrive at the right time because during the 1950s and 1960s, public health improvements led to increased population levels in underdeveloped nations, leading to concerns that present agricultural methods could not accommodate growing food demand.
Alerted to this concern, the Rockefeller Foundation, in 1961, created a new research program to study millet in India. In 1962, it joined forces with the Ford Foundation to found the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines to develop new strains of Asia's major food crop.
This new breeding project, with large financial backing, gave results even quicker than the Mexican project. Within three to four years "miracle" rices of differing variety were boosting yields in the Philippines. Like the Mexican wheat, the new rice varieties had similar stringent requirements for fertilizer and irrigation. (3)
Chemical farming was favored among the farmers and the growers for a quick yield of crops. The growers found that it was much easier to cultivate crops without taking much trouble of preparing organic manure.
It generated dramatic results and increased grain yields of rice from 1.4 tons per hectare during 1934-58 to 3.6 tons in the early 1960s. (4)
The number of crops increased throughout the year. The farmers obviously did not spurn the chance of growing more food with the chemical fertilizer and pesticide readily available through local mediums. (5)
Following the successes of the program, the term 'Green Revolution' was coined in March 1968 by the director of U.S. Agency for International Development, William Gaud. (6)
Thanks to the 'Green Revolution', world food production more than doubled between 1960 and 1990. In Pakistan and India, two of the nations that benefited most from the new crop varieties, grain yields more than quadrupled over the period. (7)
Thus the 'Green Revolution' is usually thought of as the accelerated growth in Third-World grain production which resulted from combining new seeds, mostly wheat and rice, with heavy applications of fertilizer, pesticide and controlled irrigation. (8)
It would appear Borlaug's work, which expanded agriculture at just the moment when such an increase in production was most needed, was of value.
Indeed, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply. Many experts credit the 'Green Revolution' with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving maybe 1 billion lives. (9)
However, the story has recently taken a twist.
Experts in India, at a recent workshop on climate change and sustainable agriculture, have opined that the 'Green Revolution' has done more harm than good to the agriculture sector in the country from a long term perspective.
They suggested the farmers to return to traditional practices in farming in order to make the vocation sustainable in the future. (10)
What harmful effects are of concern?
Many resonate from chemical pesticides which have caused widespread environmental problems such as water pollution, soil degradation, insect resistance and resurgence, destruction of native flora and fauna, and human hazards.
Farmers spraying insecticides in a paddy field at Phul town in Bathinda on Sunday. A Tribune photograph
Sprayers of pesticide who come into direct contact and inhale toxic compounds are getting poisoned and facing premature deaths. The growers who are indiscriminately using pesticides in the field are not aware that they are facing risk to their health. (11)
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pesticides poison 25 million lives every year. About 20,000 unintentional deaths occur every year due to pesticide poisoning. (12)
Most of these pesticides are prohibited but are smuggled into the "Third World" countries and black-marketed in private capacities. For example, the USA exported more than 344 million pounds of hazardous pesticides during 1992-94. (13)
More pesticide is needed because insects and micro-organisms that inflict harm to the plant have developed a stronger immunity to the pesticides. The overuse of pesticides has caused massive destruction of natural enemies of insect pests and resurgence of pest species.
The increase of pesticides and fertilizer usage is also accompanied by an increased risk of contamination to ground water supply.
Ground water is found in spaces between soil particles and rocks, and within cracks of bedrock. The water table is the name given to the top of a saturated zone.
Major reservoirs of ground water are called 'aquifers'. Aquifers are recharged by rain, snowmelt, or interchange with surface waters. Ground water is not stationary, but moves vertically or horizontally following the slope of the water table. (14)
How does pesticide effect the ground water?
Once pesticides are applied to its target area, many events may occur. The pesticide may be consumed by plants, evaporated into the atmosphere, carried off by the wind, or ingested by insects, worms and microorganisms. The pesticide may adhere to soil particles like iron filings to a magnet or be dissolved in irrigation or rain water. (15)
A number of pesticides that contain nitrates have the potential to interfere with normal functions of the body, particularly the endocrine system that regulates physiological functions through hormonal signals.
Nitrates can build up to high concentrations in groundwater, due to wash-off from agricultural use.
High levels of nitrate exposure in drinking water has also been suggested as a cause of cancer, thyroid disease and diabetes. (16)
A study, Epidemiology of Stomach Cancer in Chile—The Role of Nitrogen Fertilizers, by Armijo and Coulson concluded that (after data showing the use of nitrates throughout the country were collected for the period 1945–1972 and analyzed) 'a high correlation has been found between death rates and cumulative per capita exposure to nitrogen fertilizers.'
The WHO lays out the following guide to potential human health effects posed by endocrine disruption:
- cancers of the breast, prostate and testes;
- reduced quantity and quality of semen;
- impaired behavioral and mental function in children;
- impaired function of the immune system and thyroid, particularly in children. (17)
Is there legislation on the distribution of these potential harmful pesticides?
It must be realized the passing of legislation is difficult – especially where business is concerned. It has to be remembered that money made from the sale of pesticides is huge. It is estimated that around 2.3 billion kg of pesticides are used globally each year, with a trade value of around 32 billion USD. When potential profits are high, politics often overrides sound practical intelligence.
Even so, if a product is poisoning folk then surely action must be forthcoming?
In the EU a year ago, ministers planned to introduce regulation which threatened to remove 85 per cent of currently approved pesticide products from the market.
After opposition by the UK government and the Crop Protection Association (CPA), this regulation was watered down and on September 25 2009, EU ministers finally agreed to the Pesticide Authorization Regulation which could remove only 15-20 per cent of currently approved crop protection products from the market.
Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the CPA, said the vote which took place in Brussels yesterday was 'scandalous'.
Mr Dyer pointed out that the regulation could have been a lot worse had it not been for a concerted lobbying effort.
"Together we secured the support of the UK Government and a strong coalition of MEPs, in opposing the new rules. Our efforts were not in vain and the positive momentum must not be lost," said Mr Dyer. (19)
OK. That's Europe. Lets turn our attention to India.
In India, the pesticide endosulfan is widely used on many crops. Endosulfan is used more in north Indian tea plantations that produce the orthodox variety, which is exported to Europe.
India is currently the largest producer of endosulfan. Since 1996-97, it produces an average of 8206 metric tonnes per year totaling 41033 metric tonnes between 1995-2002. India exported 12180 metric tonnes during this period and consumed, on average, 3599 metric tonnes per year. (20)
Alarm over the health and environmental effects of the pesticide intensified in 2002 when a report on the pesticide appeared in "Down to Earth", a monthly journal from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi.
The report linked the spraying of endosulfan with the high incidence of deformities and diseases in the Kerala cashew plantation village of Padre in the Kasaragod District.
Both the national and Kerala state governments banned the aerial spraying of endosulfan, and as of December 2000, no more spraying occurred.
However, the agricultural and pesticide industries fought the rulings. The industry commissioned the Fredrick Institute of Plant Protection and Toxicology to conduct a study, which found that endosulfan was not harmful. Activists opposing use of the pesticide were threatened with legal action.
Although endosulfan has been banned in more than 50 countries, including all 27 members of the European Union, it is still approved by the Central Insecticide Board of India.
A long-time opponent of any restrictions or regulation of endosulfan use, the ICC is fighting a submission by nine West African nations to add endosulfan to the Rotterdam Convention – a multilateral treaty promoting shared responsibilities in the international trade of hazardous chemicals.
Is it approved anywhere else?
It is still permitted for horticultural use in Australia to control insects and mites. Despite growing opposition to endosulfan's use however, the Australian regulator, which is funded by agribusiness, has resisted persistent calls for a national ban. (21)
Australia's National Toxics Network has amassed research that has linked endosulfan to breast cancer, immunosuppression and birth defects. They again re-iterate that compounds of the substance are suspected of disrupting the endocrine system. It persists in the human body and is passed to the next generation across the placenta and in breast milk. (22)
Endosulfan contamination has not been ruled out as a possible cause for two- and three-headed fish found in the Noosa River recently. (23)
Why is it still permitted there?
Although a 2005 review by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority imposed new restrictions and conditions, endosulfan is permitted for use on a wide range of crops based on safety data compiled by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2002. (24)
Now research from the University of Pittsburgh has found serious flaws in the methodology the US regulator used to test endosulfan's safety risk.
The four-day testing period the EPA used failed to account for the toxin's long-term effects, the University of Pittsburgh researchers concluded in the September edition of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. When tracked for an additional four days after the exposure had finished, the new research found a mortality rate of between 50 and 97 per cent. (25)
So what's the U.S. stance on endosulfan?
Although endosulfan is no longer made in the United States, the chlorinated insecticide is currently registered to control insects and mites on 60 U.S. crops, including squash, pecans, and strawberries. An estimated 1.4 to 2.2 million pounds are used in the United States annually. (26)
Classified as an organochlorine, in the same family of pesticide as DDT and dieldrin, endosulfan and its breakdown products are persistent in the environment with an estimated half-life of nine months to six years. It is one of the most commonly detected pesticides in U.S. water; found in 38 states. (27)
Exposure to endosulfan happens mostly from eating contaminated food but may also occur from skin contact, breathing contaminated air or drinking contaminated water, according to the federal agency that evaluates the human health effects of exposure to hazardous substances in the United States, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (28)
Its ability to drift distances in the atmosphere makes it one of the world's most widespread pollutants. Papers to the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee's fourth meeting documented endosulfan residues found in the blood and tissues of elephant seals in the Antarctic, in polar bears, and in minke whales. (29)
Many of the same toxins could also be found in water at homes, offices and businesses. The contaminants are especially dangerous to children, who drink more water per pound than adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of many hazardous substances. "There's a different risk for kids," states Cynthia Dougherty, head of the EPA's Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water. (30)
Is this risk real?
Over the last decade, the drinking water at thousands of schools across the country has been found to contain unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and dozens of other toxins.
An Associated Press investigation found that contaminants have surfaced at public and private schools across in all states throughout the US.
The problem has gone largely unmonitored by the federal government, even as the number of water safety violations has multiplied. Experts and childrens advocates complain that responsibility for drinking water is spread among too many local, state and federal agencies, and that risks are going unreported. Finding a solution, they say, would require a costly new national strategy for monitoring water in schools. (31)
The contamination is most apparent at schools with wells. Roughly one of every five schools with its own water supply violated the Safe Drinking Water Act in the past decade, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency analyzed by the AP.
In California's farm belt, wells at some schools are so tainted with pesticides that students have started drinking bottled water for fear of getting sick from the drinking fountain.
Does this protect their health?
Not really. Bottled water across the country contains a wide variety of toxic substances, according to laboratory tests conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
"Our tests strongly indicate that the purity of bottled water cannot be trusted," the study authors write. "Given the industry's refusal to make available data to support their claims of superiority, consumer confidence in the purity of bottled water is simply not justified."
Researchers conducted extensive tests at University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory on 10 leading bottled water brands purchased from retailers in nine states and the District of Columbia (D.C.). A total of thirty eight toxic pollutants were detected altogether, with each brand containing an average of eight.
Chemicals detected included fluoride, byproducts of chlorine-based disinfection, caffeine, pharmaceutical drugs, fertilizer residue, plasticizers, solvents, fuel propellants, arsenic, other minerals and heavy metals, and radioactive isotopes. Four brands also contained bacteria. (32)
Further analysis at the University of Missouri found that when applied to breast cancer cells, one brand of water led to a 78 percent increase in proliferation rate compared with untreated cells.
"In other words, this bottled water was chemically indistinguishable from tap water," the authors write. "But with promotional campaigns saturated with images of mountain springs, and prices 1,900 times the price of tap water, consumers are clearly led to believe that they are buying a product that has been purified to a level beyond the water that comes out of the garden hose."
Do agricultural practices effect water in other ways?
This image shows the outflow of the Neuse River. It is an example of contrast seen in the Gulf of Mexico when sediment filled water meets the ocean.
As summer comes to the Gulf of Mexico, it brings with it each year a giant "dead zone" devoid of fish and other aquatic life. Expanding over the past several decades, this area now spans up to 21,000 square kilometers, which is larger than the state of New Jersey. (33)
Worldwide, there are some 146 dead zones—areas of water that are too low in dissolved oxygen to sustain life. Since the 1960s, the number of dead zones has doubled each decade.
Fertilizers provide nutrients for crops to grow, but when excess nutrients run off farm fields with rain water and are flushed into rivers and seas, they fertilize the microscopic aquatic plant life there.
In the presence of excessive concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, phytoplankton and algae can proliferate into massive blooms. When the phytoplankton die, they fall to the sea floor and are digested by microorganisms. This process removes oxygen from the water and creates low-oxygen, or hypoxic, zones. (34)
Is this having an effect on fish stocks?
One of the prominent fish species, Puntius will add to the Kashmir's endangered list of fishes due to polluted water bodies, a study reveals. Water bodies are being polluted by agriculture fertilizers and pesticides, which has led to dwindling of fish in canals at an alarming rate, the survey says.
A study by researchers of Central Institute of Fisheries Education Mumbai (CIFE-Deemed University) on "Development and Habitat of Ornamental Fishes in the Kashmir Valley" notes that Puntius species of fish would be wiped out in near future.(35)
Puntius, a beautiful ornamental fish specie, once abundant in lakes, ponds and irrigation canals in the valley, has declined by 99.5 per cent over the past 10 years in most parts of the valley, maintains the survey.
"The increasing use of fertilizers and pesticides in orchards and agriculture lands that drains towards irrigation canals has led to the disappearance of Puntius fishes in the valley," the research says.
There have also been noticeable dramatic declines in Salmon stock. In one river alone, the Fraser on Canada's west coast, 10 million sockeye salmon were expected back to spawn there this summer. Only one million turned up.
This has led to reports of a sudden drop in the numbers of wild bears spotted on salmon streams and key coastal areas where they would normally be feeding.
There is concern in Scotland;
A lengthy report, entitled Restoration Guidance for West Coast Salmon and Sea Trout Fisheries, acknowledged the "substantial" decline in stocks of Atlantic salmon and sea trout in Scotland's west coast rivers and says there is a need for scientific assessment of factors affecting marine survival.
It states: "Various potential causes of the fishery declines — both historical and contemporary — can be identified but the nature of the actual cause(s) remain unclear and contentious."
So if pesticides and fertilizers are suspects, are governmental bodies actively concerned with what substances go into these chemical crop enhancers?
Not exactly, if the following data is to be believed.
According to an analysis of federal and state data released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), between 1990 and 1995 more than 450 fertilizer companies or farms in 38 states received shipments of toxic waste totaling more than 270 million pounds.
EWG's report, Factory Farming: Toxic Waste and Fertilizer in the United States, lists for each state, the polluting industries that shipped the most waste and the fertilizer companies that received the most. Companies in California received the most waste, followed by Nebraska, New Jersey, Washington, and Georgia. (37)
At the same time in Gore, Oklahoma, a uranium-processing plant got rid of low-level radioactive waste by licensing it as liquid fertilizer and spraying it over 9,000 acres if grazing land. At Camas, Washington, lead-laced waste from a pulp mill was hauled to farms and spread over crops destined for livestock feed. While in Moxee City, Washington, dark powder from two Oregon steel mills was poured from rail cars into silos at Bay Zinc Co. under a federal hazardous waste storage permit then it was emptied from the silos for use as fertilizer. The exact same material.
The Federal and State Governments encouraged this kind of recycling, which saved money for big industry and conserved space in hazardous- waste landfills. However, the substances found in recycled fertilizers included cadmium, lead, arsenic, radioactive materials and dioxins. The wastes came from incineration of medical and municipal wastes, and from heavy industries. (38)
Surely folk must have known about toxic waste in fertilizer?
The American Computer Scientists Association has discovered that ALL tobacco grown in cheap "Calcium Phosphate Based Fertilizers" (CPFs), which were adopted for tobacco fertilization in use since the late-1940's, contain sufficient radioactive Polonium 210 isotope to be the agent responsible for nearly 100% tumor (benign and malignant) rate found among almost all smokers.
The major tobacco manufacturers discovered that polonium was part of tobacco and tobacco smoke more than 40 years ago and attempted, but failed, to remove this radioactive substance from their products. Internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the companies suppressed publication of their own internal research to avoid heightening the public's awareness of radioactivity in cigarettes. Tobacco companies continue to minimize their knowledge about polonium-210 in cigarettes in smoking and health litigation. (39)
Why don't senior figures in the government put a stop to these practices?
It may help gain an understanding when their involvement in companies is considered.
Take former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who was president of Searle Pharmaceuticals owned by a company called 'Monsanto'.
The Monsanto Company is a United States-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as "Roundup". Monsanto is also the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed, holding 90% market share for various GE seeds.
Rumsfeld is believed to have earned around US$12 million from the sale of Searle to Monsanto.
So what's the problem?
Here's a time line of events concerning the company:(40)
In 1965, while working on an ulcer drug, James Schlatter, a chemist at G.D. Searle, accidentally discovers aspartame, a substance that is 180 times sweeter than sugar yet has no calories.
1971 – Neuroscientist Dr. John Olney (whose pioneering work with monosodium glutamate was responsible for having it removed from baby foods) informs Searle that his studies show that aspartic acid (one of the ingredients of aspartame) caused holes in the brains of infant mice. One of Searle's own researchers confirmed Dr. Olney's findings in a similar study.
1973 - After spending tens of millions of dollars conducting safety tests, the G.D. Searle Company applies for FDA approval and submits over 100 studies they claim support aspartame's safety.
1974 - The FDA grants aspartame its first approval for restricted use in dry foods.
1976 – A Turner and Olney petition triggers an FDA investigation of the laboratory practices of aspartame's manufacturer, G.D. Searle. The investigation finds Searle's testing procedures shoddy, full of inaccuracies and "manipulated" test data. The investigators report they "had never seen anything as bad as Searle's testing."
1976 – The FDA formally requests the U.S. Attorney's office to begin grand jury proceedings to investigate whether indictments should be filed against Searle for knowingly misrepresenting findings and "concealing material facts and making false statements" in aspartame safety tests. This is the first time in the FDA's history that they request a criminal investigation of a manufacturer.
1977 – G. D. Searle hires prominent Washington politician Donald Rumsfeld as the new CEO. A former Member of Congress and Secretary of Defense in the Ford Administration, Rumsfeld brings in several of his Washington friends as top management.
1980 – A Public Board of Inquiry concludes NutraSweet containing aspartame should not be approved pending further investigations of brain tumors in animals. The board states it "has not been presented with proof of reasonable certainty that aspartame is safe for use as a food additive."
1981 – Ronald Reagan is sworn in as President of the United States. Reagan's transition team, which includes Donald Rumsfeld, CEO of G. D. Searle, picks Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes Jr. to be the new FDA Commissioner.
1981 – In one of his first official acts, Dr. Arthur Hayes Jr., the new FDA commissioner, overrules the Public Board of Inquiry, ignores the recommendations of his own internal FDA team and approves NutraSweet for dry products. Hayes says that aspartame has been shown to be safe for it's proposed uses.
1983 – The first carbonated beverages containing aspartame are sold for public consumption.
In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the chemical company that held the patent to aspartame, the active ingredient in NutraSweet.
In 1995, NutraSweet announced plans to market aspartame tabletop sweeteners throughout Southeast Asia. They also introduced aspartame to India and to test market an aspartame tabletop sweetener in China during 1995.
On May 13, 1998, the University of Barcelona produced, in final form, its study clearly showing that aspartame, labeled with a carbon-14 isotope, was transformed into formaldehyde in the bodies of the living specimens, and that when they were examined later, the radioactive-tagged formaldehyde had spread throughout the vital organs of their bodies.
The chemical breakdown of aspartame in the human body is described as follows: Methanol, from aspartame, is released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounters the enzyme chymotrypsin. Free methanol begins to form in liquid aspartame-containing products at temperatures above 86°F.
The methanol is converted to formaldehyde. The formaldehyde converts to formic acid (ant sting poison). Formic acid is toxic and is used as an activator to strip epoxy and urethane coatings. Phenylalanine and aspartic acid (90% of aspartame) are amino acids normally used in synthesis of protoplasm when supplied by the foods eaten by humans. However, when unaccompanied by other amino acids, they are neurotoxic.
The FDA has established at least 92 medical/health problems have symptoms associated with aspartame and include, but are not limited to–abdominal pain, anxiety attacks, arthritis, asthma and asthmatic reactions, bloating, edema (fluid retention), blood sugar control problems (Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia), brain cancer (pre-approval studies in animals), breathing difficulties, burning eyes or throat, burning urination, chest pains, chronic cough, chronic fatigue, confusion, death, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, excessive thirst or hunger, flushing of face, hair loss (baldness) or thinning of hair, headaches/migraines dizziness, hearing loss, heart palpitations, hives (urticaria), hypertension (high blood pressure), impotency and sexual problems, insomnia, irritability, joint pains, laryngitis, marked personality changes, memory loss, menstrual problems or changes, migraines and severe headaches (triggered or caused from chronic intake), muscle spasms, nausea or vomiting, seizures and convulsions, slurring of speech, swallowing pain, tachycardia, tremors, tinnitus, vertigo, vision loss, and/or weight gain.
On or about September 8, 2004, an affidavit was signed describing the initial Third World studies and the health hazards of aspartame.
The "double blind" studies showed conclusive evidence that aspartame caused severe health problems and even death to the exposed study group. According to the Affidavit, the doctor directing the studies has been missing since the approval of aspartame in 1984.
The affidavit also describes how the affiant was directed by J.D. Searle officials to destroy all records of the studies – including filed notes and/or translations – possessed by the affiant. The affiant describes in detail how the translations were forwarded upon completion to J.D. Searle corporate offices in Illinois.
September 15th, 2004, in San Francisco, a $350 million dollar plus class action racketeering lawsuit was filed in United States Federal District Court, court case # C 04 3872, against the NutraSweet Corporation, Monsanto Corporation, American Diabetes Association, Dr. Robert H. Moser and some fifty other defendants to be named later. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is mentioned throughout in the lawsuit.
August 20th, 2005, this lawsuit was withdrawn by the the plantiffs without prejudice, (meaning they can re-file it at a later date ). The reason for the withdrawal of the lawsuit at this time is not known. (41)
OK. That's Donald Rumsfield involment. Any other governmental figures linked to Monsanto?
Former Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman was on the board of directors of Calgene Pharmaceutical, another company currently owned by Monsanto.
Any other problems with Monsanto?
In 1997, it was alleged Fox News cooperated with Monsanto in suppressing an investigative report on the health risks associated with Monsanto's bovine growth hormone product, Posilac.
Posilac, a synthetic hormone used to increase milk production in cows, while banned in many first-world countries, is used in the United States.
Reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre disagreed with the inclusion of material in a story they where involved with. They felt it was slanted or misleading. Both reporters were eventually fired.
The reporters then sued Fox in Florida state court, claiming they could not be fired for refusing to do something that they believed to be illegal. In 2000, a Florida jury found that while there was no evidence Fox had bowed to any pressure from Monsanto to alter the story, Akre, but not Wilson, was unjustly fired.
However, in 2003, the decision in Akre's favor was then overturned by an appeal court because the whistleblower's statute, under which the original case had been filed, did not actually apply to the case. The court held that Fox News had no obligation to report truthfully, and the First Amendment protects their right to lie. (42)
In 2002, Monsanto lost a series of court decisions resulting in US$700 million in damages being awarded to thousands of residents of the town of Anniston, Alabama that had been polluted over a period of years by Monsanto's PCB byproducts. Monsanto was found guilty of "negligence, wantonness, suppression of truth, nuisance, trespass, and outrage."
Monsanto influences have had a controversial history in India.
A subsidiary of Monsanto employs child labor in the manufacture of cotton-seeds in India. The work involves handling poisonous pesticides such as endosulfan and the children get less than Rs.20 (half dollar) per day.
Frontline's "Seeds of Suicide: India's Desperate Farmers" has detailed some of the struggles facing the Indian farmer. The transition to using the latest pest-resistant seeds and the necessary herbicides has been difficult. Farmers have been lured to genetically modified seeds promoted by Monsanto by the promise of greater yields.
Resulting debts from failed crop yields with genetically modified seeds have led some farmers into the equivalent of indentured servitude. More than 4,500 farmers have committed suicide due largely to mounting debt caused by the poor yields, increased need for pesticides, and higher cost of seed of the BT cotton seed sold by Monsanto.[ 44]
Now we come to the biggest problem of all. Water Shortage.
Parts of India are on track for severe water shortages, according to results from Nasa's gravity satellites.
Using NASA satellite data, scientists have found that groundwater levels in northern India have been declining by as much as one foot per year over the past decade. Researchers concluded the loss is almost entirely due to human activity.
Writing in the journal 'Nature', they say rainfall has not changed and water use is too high, mainly for farming.
The finding is published two days after an Indian government report warning of a potential water crisis.
"We looked at the rainfall record and during this decade, it's relatively steady – there have been some up and down years but generally there's no drought situation, there's no major trend in rainfall," said Matt Rodell, a hydrologist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington DC.
"So naturally we would expect the groundwater level to stay where it is unless there is an excessive stress due to people pumping too much water, which is what we believe is happening."
The northwest of India is heavily irrigated; and the Indian government's State of the Environment report, published on Tuesday, noted that irrigation increased rice yields seven-fold in some regions compared to rain-fed fields.
Dr Raj Gupta, a scientist working for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), said that the current drought would lead to more groundwater extraction.
"Farmers receive no rains so they are pumping a lot more water than the government expected, so the water table will fall further," he said.
"The farmers have to irrigate, and that's why they're pumping more water, mining more water. The situation has to stop today or tomorrow."(44)
More than 26 cubic miles of groundwater disappeared from aquifers in areas of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and the nation's capitol territory of Delhi, between 2002 and 2008. This is enough water to fill Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States, three times. (45)
Food and agriculture are the largest consumers of water, requiring one hundred times more than we use for personal needs. Up to 70 % of the water we take from rivers and groundwater goes into irrigation.
"We have depleted the ground water to such an extent that it is devastating the country," says Gurdev Hira, an expert on soil and water at Punjab Agriculture University in Ludhiana. Hira estimates that the energy used to subsidize rice production in the region costs $381 million a year.
He and other experts warn that, if left unchecked, future drilling will bleed state budgets, parch aquifers, and run farmers out of business. (46)
So now we begin to understand why there are concerns about the long term effect of the 'Green Revolution'. While initially feeding the populace with increased crop production, these present yields are not sustainable. Sooner or later water levels will not be able to meet demand. Result? Mass starvation and ruination for the farmer.
The policy has also led to a reliance on a chemical insecticide and fertilizer industry that has lead to a legacy of ill health, especially amongst children.
An industry run by racketeers who show no concern for the well being of the populace as long as profit is forthcoming. Racketeers that are supported at the highest levels of government and are allowed to lie in order to substantiate these profits.
So while Norman Borlaug's intentions may have been worthy, a rethink is needed else we risk dangers of catastrophic proportions.