For about one year in the early 90s I lived in an ashram near a small village in the heart of Madhya Pradesh in India. As the sun went down in the evening we would sit in meditation on a raised platform overlooking the river which provided the water supply for the village.
Many nights we would have to flee from our meditations as literally clouds of poisonous gas would engulf the whole ashram. The farmers in their fields nearby were spraying pesticides and the winds were, unfortunately, in the wrong direction.
You have to live in countries where the control of pollution is virtually ignored to know what it is really like. In the ashram we also had to grow crops to sustain our lifestyle, but we were using organic deterrents like neem (the very bitter plant margosa).
This is a short documentary made by The Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi, with reports on the effects of pesticide use from around the country. The results are, I think, unambiguous and telling.
The increased yields that pesticides bring soon turn down as the land degenerates; pesticides are poisonous to both pests and man, and we see some of the terrible results uncontrolled spraying has; pesticides are expensive and need to be increased as pests become resistant, leading to debt which has led to an almost epidemic of suicides in the farming communities of India.
However, there is certainly hope in the report, as we see more and more people returning to organic farming which regenerates the land, producing a better yield in the long run; has no toxic effects; and is of course less expensive than its chemical alternatives.
There are some good lessons for us all in this film: the only real benefactors of the chemical revolution in farming have been the companies and corporations; the people, both farmers and consumers have – in a very short time – lost out. It’s time to return to living with nature, not fighting against her.
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