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40 years after ‘Green Revolution’, India’s Farmers Ride ‘The Cancer Train’

In Environment, Food/Drink, GM Crops, Health, Healthcare, India, Science on May 19, 2009 at 11:56 am

A must read chilling report from Daniel Zwerdling of NPR

Local 339, the train dubbed 'The Cancer Train' carrying cancer patients for treatment.

The Green Revolution swept across Punjab and much of Asia in the 1960s and ’70s. In the context of the times, “green” did not refer to what it means today — organic, pesticide-free farming methods. This Green Revolution was led by a loose network of politicians, scientists and philanthropists in the U.S. and other nations, driven by a combination of humanitarian zeal and Cold War-era politics.

They were convinced that if farmers in developing countries like India switched from traditional methods to the American way of farming — with pesticides, fertilizers and high-yield seeds — they could fight hunger and prevent the region from going communist.

People say they never used to see so many cancer patients in this farm region. Cancer was considered an urban disease, suffered by people who lived in cities choked with industry and pollution.

But research by one of the most respected medical institutes in India recently found that farming villages using large amounts of pesticides have significantly higher rates of cancer than villages that use less of the chemicals.

Researchers caution that the findings do not prove that pesticides are causing cancer. But they say the passengers crowding the cancer train are part of a medical mystery that could have repercussions around the world: Are the modern farming methods brought by the so-called Green Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s making people sick?



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