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India's rice revolution
The Guardian

Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year. There had been good rains in his village of Darveshpura in north-east India and he knew he could improve on the four or five tonnes per hectare that he usually managed. But every stalk he cut on his paddy field near the bank of the Sakri river seemed to weigh heavier than usual, every grain of rice was bigger and when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked.

This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India's poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world's population of seven billion, big news.

It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the "father of rice", the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields.

The villagers, at the mercy of erratic weather and used to going without food in bad years, celebrated. But the Bihar state agricultural universities didn't believe them at first, while India's leading rice scientists muttered about freak results. The Nalanda farmers were accused of cheating. Only when the state's head of agriculture, a rice farmer himself, came to the village with his own men and personally verified Sumant's crop, was the record confirmed.

All of this GMO crap is just a way for multinationals to line their own pockets. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are just ways to waste petrochemicals and poison the food supply. If this can be done in India, what could we do in America?

(Updated to mention pesticides and fertilizers.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  I thought this said "genetically-modified Cops" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edrie, Joieau, Crider, Words In Action, Lujane

    I was going to agree.

    I agreed with limiting/nix GMO crops years ago.

    Humans should not patent natural food.

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 11:59:18 AM PST

  •  I'm not convinced. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder, docstymie

    Well, I'm not convinced that one record year for one region in India is "proof". Though I'd certainly be interested in seeing more information and research on their methods, and how other farmers are applying it to their crops.

    Also not convinced by the knee-jerk negative reaction to GM crops (not just the author's but in general). I haven't heard any good arguments against GM crops except that people say it's not "natural."

    •  Round up Ready seeds (8+ / 0-)

      force users of those seeds to use Round Up. 15 weeds are now resistant to Round Up.

      Then when this happens, Monsanto loses its investment, and it may find that 6 or 8 years is not enough to get a return on ones investment. that is not a viable business model.

      ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 12:09:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As Monsanto also owns the patents on their GM (0+ / 0-)

        seeds, anyone wanting or being forced to grow GM crops must purchase new seeds each year from them. This is licensing the ability  to use them for one crop per year. As their seeds contaminate natural seeds, Monsanto has successfully sued (for theft) farmers whose crops have been contaminated through wind pollination from Monsanto fields near to them. Their main concern is no longer forcing the use of Round-Up. In addition to GM seeds, they have bigger fish to fry. Huge Frankenfish (salmon) that the current regime is on the verge of approving. The fix is in, and we cannot even have the ability to be notified on food labels whether or not GMO's are in the food. That's freedom at its finest--corporate freedom.

    •  many years ago, my dad planted tomato plants (10+ / 0-)

      beside the house.  he used ONLY chicken fertilizer (from my grandparents' chicken yards.  nothing else.

      those "normal" plants grew to 2 1/2 stories in height and produced tomatos that weighed 3lbs and were so sweet, they tasted like they were covered in sugar.

      the chickensh*t smelled like hell, but the plants LOVED it!

      manure - from our barn - was processed for years by a professional manure provider - they turned it regularly to allow the natural decomposition and when it was done, it was velvet smooth, nitrogen rich quality organic fertilizer.

      we don't need artificially modified plants - what we need is to return to the basics in what we know already about plant growth and what is needed to make plants happy!

      it's worked for thousands of years - why a few "money men" think they know better just amazes me!

      EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

      by edrie on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 12:13:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  GMO crops do not increase yields (7+ / 0-)

      Crops with the Roundup Ready trait only get rid of weeds. It's meant as a labor-saving device. Industrial ag doesn't like to pay people to weed fields, and cultivating the field to eliminate weeds is also expensive.

      Crops with the Bt trait can possible increase yields because the corn itself is a pesticide, but the variety itself is rather sick and low yielding on it's own. One study (Ma BL, Subedi KD. Development, yield, grain moisture and nitrogen uptake of Bt corn hybrids and their conventional near-isolines. Field Crops Research. 2005; 93: 199-211) actually reported 12% lower yields.

      Monsanto has been selling a line of bullshit. They've captured our government. On an open market, GMO corn would never fetch the same price as non-GMO corn. People don't want it. They've gotten our government to not require labeling, so the marketplace has been forced to treat inferior GMO corn the same as non-GMO corn.

      RoundUp residue and Bt toxin in your food make you sick. I'm amazed that people just can't wrap their heads around this!

      "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

      by Crider on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 12:26:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

        The GM corn hurts our GI tracts in our family. You can trace exactly where it is in its passage through by the pain.

        Organic corn is no problem.

        Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 10:28:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Martha, perhaps you don't remember when (5+ / 0-)

      corn was naturally tender and tasted sweet. The only way you can reproduce that type of crop is to purchase Heritage seeds or buy their equivalent.

      Modified seeds cannot be reproduced. They have to be replaced each year (which means more sales for Monsanto); on the other hand, Heritage seeds can be harvested from crops and stored for the next season.

      There are many other issues, but they are complicated and I don't have time to list them. Incidentally, I've even seen arguments about "baby engineering" citing problems with modified crops as an example of why caution should be used when creating designer babies.

      There's a lot of information out there.

    •  It's not all "knee jerk" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, codairem, Lujane, splashy

      but that has its place as well, for those who find themselves on the bad side of Monsanto, et al. on their transgenes being so blatantly promiscuous. Or their cultivars leaving failed crops all around (see: India, Monsanto cotton). Or the escalating costs of ever deadlier pesticides and herbicides when the ones engineered into the plant (and/or tolerance for) quickly lead to resistant weeds and pests. Then all you've got is a GMO cultivar engineered to express toxins that don't kill the bugs and tolerant of herbicides that won't kill the weeds.

      And not that many people willing to seek them out for consumption, for whatever reason.

      But it's the promiscuous-ness of the transgenes that is the true show-stopper. Seems the virus fragments used to defeat genome protection mechanisms developed naturally, so chosen genes and promoters can be inserted into the host genome in random places that present real dangers. Destabilizing genomes wasn't the best idea multinational gigacorps ever came up with, for sure.

      Cover-cropping, plowing that under along with compost, good ol' farmyard fertilizer and even dilute urine tea can quickly lead to very fertile soils and healthy crops that resist insect invasions and weed crowd-out pretty darned well without fly ash and petro-poisons. The way big agribiz grows things these days isn't the only way to produce food.

    •  How about the fact that Monsanto (0+ / 0-)

      is a blatantly evil, sociopathic force on the planet. I mean, set aside the health reasons, which are bad enough; just look at what a menace Monsanto is. It makes early Microsoft look like a model citizen.

      When 1% take 121% of the gains from "recovery", people actually recovering from lost employment are trading down on wages and benefits. Current strategies by moderates don't even consider winning the Class War.

      by Words In Action on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 01:10:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  couple things (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Utahrd, mem from somerville

    1. I'm skeptical.
    2. India's "Green Revolution" was done with early model GMO rice (among other things.)

  •  Uh-huh (3+ / 0-)

    Logically, then, since some people have spontaneous remission of cancer, we don't need cancer treatments. Right?

    The critics pointing out 1 year's result in 1 region is not proof of anything are right. That's the exact same "logic" as saying that because a city has a colder winter than usual, there's no global warming.

  •  2 cheers for GMO! eom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Those who quote Santayana are condemned to repeat him. Me

    by Mark B on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 01:47:35 PM PST

  •  Fine print: it only works for small farms (0+ / 0-)

    In other words, american agri-biz will never show any interest in it and this small miracle will be squashed by big agribiz.

  •  Sigh. (0+ / 0-)

    Again, Vidal causes whack-a-mole with fictions.

    The seeds used were from Bayer and Syngenta. They used fungicide. And they used chemical fertilizers.

    More details on the actual facts are here: The Indian SRI record rice yields

    But celebrate this! I am all for appropriate use of good genetics from BigAg and useful inputs.

    “I apologise ...for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation --@ProfBrianCox

    by mem from somerville on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:21:55 AM PST

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