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Q:
Have farmers in India committed suicide by drinking Monsanto's Round-up Ready?
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A:Expert Answer

We think it’s possible that two issues could be getting confused here, and we want to make sure that the question you are concerned about is answered. 

 

First of all, although glyphosate-containing herbicides (such as Roundup products), when used according to the label, have a long history of safe use, they can be harmful when ingested.  No herbicide should be ingested.

 

Second, there is a widespread claim that failure of Monsanto’s GM cotton product caused farmers in India to commit suicide.  Tragically, farmer suicides in India began long before the introduction of GM cotton in 2002.  This claim was studied by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, D.C., which found that, if anything, suicides among farmers have been decreasing since the introduction of GM cotton.

 

The report states, “It is not only inaccurate but simply wrong to blame the use of Bt cotton as the primary cause of farmer suicides in India.” It also found that the adoption of pest-resistant Bt cotton varieties had led to massive increases in yield and a 40 percent decrease in pesticide use.  The report can be found here:  IFPRI discussion paper: Bt Cotton and Farmer Suicides in India -- Reviewing the Evidence (Oct. 2008).

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