USAID, Monsanto and the real reason behind Delhi’s horrific smoke season
For those of us who grew up in Delhi and cannot understand why smoke from Punjabi farmers burning rice stubble has become such a major source of pollution for the capital city, this story gives one interesting answer and one controversial answer.
The interesting answer is this: “Until a few years ago, when farmers in Punjab burnt the remnants of the rice crops in their fields in preparation for sowing wheat, the smoke from such fires was confined to Punjab.
According to a publication of the Indian Council of Social Science Research(external link) published in 1991, ‘At the end of September and in early October, it becomes difficult to travel in the rural areas of Punjab because the air is thick with the smoke of burning paddy straw.’
Clearly, farmers burnt the straw in late September and early October. However, in recent years, farmers have delayed the burning until late October.
This delay is crucial and responsible for the smoke being carried all the way to Delhi. An analysis of the wind flow patterns reveals that wind blows into Delhi primarily from the west during the monsoon season, but changes direction in October and starts blowing into Delhi from the north.
The decision to delay the clearing of the fields was not the choice of farmers, but was forced on them by the Punjab government which passed the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act (external link) in 2009.
According to this law, farmers could no longer sow rice in April, but had to wait until the middle of June. Rice has a 120-day period between germination and harvest, and the restriction on sowing means that the fields would be harvested and cleared only in October by which time the direction of wind would have changed.
Delhi’s problem of being covered by smoke started right after this law was implemented…This piece of legislation was passed ostensibly to preserve groundwater, the depletion of which was blamed on rice fields which supposedly used too much water and which were prone to evaporation, but this argument is a very tenuous one.”
And the controversial answer is this: “The group that has been primarily responsible for exerting pressure to move away from growing rice in the name of ‘crop diversification’ is the United States Agency for International Development.
Over a period of several years, it has used the excuse of preventing the decline of groundwater to push this agenda.
USAID has a worldwide reputation of behaving like a front group for American multinational corporations such as Monsanto, and so it should come as no surprise that Monsanto is at the forefront of the purported solution for Punjab’s problems.
Apparently, if farmers stop growing rice and replace it with Monsanto’s GMO maize, the problem will be solved.
India’s surplus food grain supply is an uncomfortable fact for Monsanto and other proponents of GMO food who insist that the world would face a shortage of food grains if not for genetically engineered plants sold by Monsanto.
It is in this light that one must view Monsanto’s collusion with the Punjab government and their joint efforts targeting the production of rice in India.”