India Market

In a notable victory for India, a country plagued with controversies surrounding the widespread genetically modified crops found across the nation, the government announced that beginning in January 2013 all food products containing genetically modified ingredients must be labeled if they’re going to be sold in the country.

And while it’s a plus for many reasons — including the recent debacle of Monsanto trying to steal eggplant — some are calling the victory bittersweet as the biotech industry won concessions on the labeling regulations based on size and weight of the products. And critics of the rule say it will be near impossible to label GMO foods because of the excessive amount of genetically modified cottonseed and soybean oil sold in the country, which would make it difficult and costly to trace the sources.

Still, it may be a small triumph for the country, which has suffered immense loss as a result of genetically modified cotton introduced a decade ago. Sold to farmers along with toxic pesticides and fertilizers by biotech companies including Monsanto and Bayer CropScience, when the crops severely underperformed or market prices dropped, hundreds of thousands of farmers took their own lives because they were incapable of paying the debts owed on investing in the GMO cotton. Rather than live with the shame of overwhelming debt, many drank the very pesticides they were unable to pay for. The state of Maharashtra and neighboring Madhya Pradesh recently ruled in favor of more than 1,000 farmers in the region and ordered that Bayer CropScience pay restitutions of more than $1 million.

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Image: james.pratley