A soybean and a soybean seed are one in the same. If germinated and grown into a plant, one bean can eventually produce the seeds for countless future plants—a return that grows exponentially over multiple seasons. But thanks to the strict patent control practiced by seed companies like Monsanto, farmers have to pay for new seeds, for a new license to use the GMO technology, every year—or face litigation for saving and replanting seeds. Between 1975 and 2000, the price of soybean seed rose 63 percent, according to a report from The Organic Center. The cost shot up 230 percent over the following decade.
Where farming is big business, like America’s Midwest, this increased overhead hasn’t proved devastating. But in India, where farmers have gone deep into debt to buy GMO seeds, seduced by the faulty promises of better yields, the dramatic price increases have been lethal: While numbers (and causes) are widely debated, many farmers have committed suicide after their crops failed and they were unable to pay back their debts.
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