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MNCs' seeds `not virile, but sterile'

By A.V. Ragunathan

CUDDALORE, AUG. 16. The Agricultural Directorate of the Federation of Consumer Organisations — Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (FEDCOT) and the Tamil Life Movement have jointly launched a statewide campaign yesterday against "barren and impotent seeds being marketed by multinational companies in the State".

The State general secretary of FEDCOT, M. Nizamudeen told The Hindu that members of both organisations had already set out to create awareness among farmers of the adverse effects of these seeds. The problem would be addressed in both rural and urban areas.

The State's farmers had a tradition of reaping rich harvests through sowing indigenous seeds. According to one estimate, there were as many as two lakh varieties in use about four decades ago.

But in the name of the Green Revolution, they were lured to take to the so-called virile varieties that in reality turned out to be sterile since they could not be sown again. Moreover, fertilizer as well as water consumption was high leading to financial losses for the farmers.

`No native varieties'

With native seed stocks already being phased out, farmers could not revert to traditional methods. In the bargain, the seed, fertilizer and pesticide companies had struck it rich, while leaving the farmers in the lurch.

Farmers, lured by the promises of the seed promoters, had taken huge loans but had been disappointed by the poor yield. Now, they could not meet even the service charges on the loans.

FEDCOT and the Tamil Life Movement alleged that this was one of the reasons for farmers' suicides. Above all, the pesticide residue in the crops posed health hazards.

It was time to free farmers from the clutches of the multinational seed companies and encourage them to take up traditional farming methods, said Mr. Nizamudeen.

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