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I have been asked often about the issue of farmer suicides and the adoption of Bt cotton in India. I am not an expert on this issue nor have I done directly research in this area. I have though a couple of colleagues who have dwelved more in depth of this issue and have consulted with them about their impressions over time. Here I reproduce some of these sources and references which will shed some light over this tragic issue which may not have to do with adoption of a specific technology, rather the cultural and social context in which farmers operate in India.

Bt Cotton and Farmer Suicides in India – Reviewing the Evidence. Guillaume P. Gruère, Purvi Mehta-Bhatt and Debdatta Sengupta. IFPRI Discussion Paper 00808, October 2008. http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/pubs/pubs/dp/ifpridp00808.pdf

Ronald J. Herring article “Suicide Seeds? Biotechnology Meets the Developmental State “  at the he Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) at Penn State University. http://casi.sas.upenn.edu/iit/rherring

Herring, R. J. (2009). Persistent narratives: Why is the “failure of Bt cotton in India” story still with us?. AgBioForum, 12(1), 14-22. Available on the World Wide Web:  http://www.agbioforum.org/v12n1/v12n1a02-herring.htm

Keith Kloor “How Seeds of a False Story Took Root and Spread” http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2012/05/09/how-seeds-of-a-false-story-took-root-and-spread/#.Ua5Qo5ymVF9

“Suicide of Farmers in Maharashtra- Causes and Remedies” a paper by K. Nagaraj, an economist at Madras Institute of Development Studies in Tamil Nadu, examined data from 1997 to 2010 in one of the regions hardest hit by farmer suicides: http://www.nabard.org/databank/IARD%20Web/csidfiles/Suicide%20of%20Farmers%20in%20Maharashtra.pdf

NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice released a report on India’s farmer suicide crisis that cited predatory behavior of GMO sales reps as one of the contributors, but its overall assessment was nuanced http://www.chrgj.org/publications/docs/every30min.pdf

Vikram Patel, Chinthanie Ramasundarahettige, Lakshmi Vijayakumar, JS Thakur, Vendhan Gajalakshmi, Gopalkrishna Gururaj, Wilson Suraweera, Prabhat Jha, for the Million Death Study Collaborators, Suicide mortality in India: a nationally representative survey, The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9834, 23–29 June 2012, Pages 2343-2351, ISSN 0140-6736, 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60606-0. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673612606060)

Article of in the National Post ‘The myth of India’s ‘GM genocide’: Genetically modified cotton blamed for wave of farmer suicides” http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/01/26/the-myth-of-indias-gm-genocide-genetically-modified-cotton-blamed-for-wave-of-farmer-suicides/