Mental health leading cause of farmer suicide in India, not indebtedness from buying GMO seeds

For over a decade, farmer suicides in India has been a serious public policy concern. More recently, this has led to a shrill media outcry and much politicking. The government response to the crisis of farmer suicide has mostly been simplistic and sometimes aggravating. We study the data from the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) of India and disaggregate across demographics and leading causes of suicides.

We begin with farmer suicides and the state of Maharashtra, which had the largest number of farmer suicides for decades. We find that 76 per cent of all suicides there are concentrated within six districts, and nearly 60 per cent of the farmers who committed suicide own more than four acres of land. Indebtedness has been highlighted as the prime cause and leading public intellectuals have called for an end to the “debt deaths”. The National Sample Survey data suggests that the debt burden, measured as the debt-to-asset ratio, declines with increase in asset-holding. So poorer households have a higher debt burden. However, the suicide data reported by the state government indicates that the incidence of suicide is much higher for households with larger land holdings. Nearly 86 percent of all farmer suicides in Maharashtra are committed by those with more than two acres of land.

Most policy interventions have been limited to forgiving institutional debt, so we study the leading causes for suicides. Approximately 30 percent of all suicides in Andhra-Maharashtra are farmer suicides, while only 5 percent of all suicides are due to debt or bankruptcy. In stark contrast, poor health (mental and physical) accounted for approximately 30 percent of all suicides in these states. It is worth noting that even for the country as a whole, poor health leads to more than seven times as many suicides as compared to debt or bankruptcy. So health reform, particularly in rural areas, is likely to have far greater impact on distress and suicides than forgiving institutional loans.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: India’s suicide problem

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend