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Compromises made on GM crops

Darshan Singh in his OPED article “Should GM crops be banned?” (September 26) wrote in favour of GM crops, while conveniently lambasting the NGOs and the public as an uninformed lot. He doesn’t see any harm in the tactics of big multinationals like Monsanto. Just because of the dominance of Monsanto in North America and South America and quoted 50% of land being under GM crops is not a reason enough for the East to follow the ways of the West.

While I totally believe his figures and the short term benefits, I can’t but imagine the future of farming on a research which is half baked at best. Let me ask the writer not to discount these fears as mere whims or political agenda or ignorance on the part of the common public. 

Living in the West, I deal with fresh vegetables everyday which look healthy, colourful and ripe but have no flavour whatsoever. Am I not within my rights to demand not only a red tomato with the taste of tomato as well? What about the farmers who have been driven to bankruptcy by lawyers and the tactics used by multinationals like Monsanto? Does it not concern the general public when the biodiversity of regional crops is being compromised in favour of industrial giants promoting one or two varieties. Have scientists gauged the havoc which will be created by non-availability of extinct native species of crops when the industry promoted crops grow resistant to the same ball-worms or other insects they so boastfully protect themselves against? 

Public education and debate is not unhealthy. Let’s not be dismissive of the public and their opinion till the scientists are ready to provide some good answers backed with data and conviction. Till then, I want the right to go to a ‘farmers’ market’ or an ‘apni mandi’ and meet a farmer who has the freedom to cultivate or extract his own seeds of native varieties and crops and taste that luscious strawberry or tomato and feel the flavor just like my forefathers did centuries ago.


Vigilance in reforms

In real terms,  economic reforms is only worth its name, if it is free of political tones (editorial “Getting Tough”, September 24).

The issue of FDI in multi-brand retail has been taken up by the government in a very trivial sense, whereas it deserved full national debate before enforcing. The business of retail in India’s current context is very different.  It has deep social and national security implications. 

The fate of legendary business leviathans such as Enron, Barings Bank, WorldCom and more recently JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers are testimony to the criminal negligence by persons at the top. 

There is no reason to assume that the same kind of disaster can’t strike in India as well, given human greed and propensity to take things  easy is same everywhere.

Walmart’s example is being given in the context of China little forgetting that Walmart is the single largest buyer from China. Moreover, China’s employment in the manufacturing sector is vast and in India, employment is vast in the service sector which is likely to be hit by FDI.

The advantage through FDI is being exaggerated much out of proportion.  In 1950, US farmers received over 40 cents for every dollar spent at super market.  Today that is down to about 19 cents.  In the case of whole milk, US farmer gets $1.45 and the retail price is $3.30; farmers get 45% profit.  At Amul, our farmers get about 75% return.  Because of the squeezing of farmers income at the hands of super markets the industrialized countries in 2009 provided a farm subsidy of $1260 billion (OECD Report). Eternal vigilance is the price of reforms.

PD SHARMA, Ludhiana 


A lot has been written, debated, argued and discussed regarding entry of FDI in retail in India. History has amply proved that at the time of entry of MNCs not even a minor dent could be made in the business of petty shopkeepers as well as rehriwallahs. The fact of the matter is that FDI in retail does not have any side effects and   must prove beneficial to the common man as well as the unemployed youth. Quality in procurement, preservation, transportation and marketing may effect qualitative improvement but not the prices. The Centre should immediately create a cell to make people aware of the benefits of FDI in retail and make them realise that the hue and cry being made by certain quarters is only vote bank politics.

Dr V K ANAND, Patiala


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was absolutely right when he remarked that money does not grow on trees.  This is because, with regard to our country, money grows and multiplies in foreign banks abroad where our corrupt leaders amass wealth that has been looted from our country. The PM now wants ‘aam aadmi’ to make sacrifices and further, he wants the people to ‘appreciate’ the government’s position. 


Bhagat Singh’s thoughts on India

I am a man and all that affects mankind concerns me,” Bhagat Singh’s words reverbate in my mind as we commemorate his 105th birth anniversary. Bhagat Singh was a crusader of socialist values. He stood for ideals which had the potential to transform India into an egalitarian society. Alas, even after 65 years of  Independence, his ideals have failed to see the light of the day and have been badly crushed by the corrupt  system. India today is afflicted with hydra-headed problems in education, health, governance, agriculture. Is this the modern India of Bhagat Singh’s dreams?




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