Agri-biotechnology Bt technology

GEAC Heard About Illegal HT Cotton Cultivation For First Time Recently, says Chairperson Amita Prasad, Monsanto Says Informing Since 2008

The illegal cultivation of herbicide-tolerant (HT)  cotton seems to have become as unwieldy a problem as the broom which Amita Prasad, Chairperson of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), is awkwardly wielding in the photo  above, taken on the occasion of Swachhata Diwas. In response to a question from Vivian  Fernandes whether the representation by South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) in September was the first time that GEAC was learning about the illegal cultivation of HT cotton in the country, Prasad said, “Yes, information related to cultivation of herbicide-tolerant cotton was brought to the notice of GEAC very recently.”

Prasad seems to have been misled by her ministry officials because  the spokesperson of Monsanto said in response to the Andhra Pradesh government forming a committee on 5 October to study the “efficacy” of illegal HT cotton in the state that, “As early as September 2008, Monsanto had informed the country’s regulatory body – Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) about seeds being illegally produced and sold by spurious and dubious seed producers to farmers without any approvals from Central or State regulatory agencies, in complete violation of applicable laws.” The Monsanto spokesperson was referring to its Roundup Ready Flex Bt cotton which was being pirated. “Over the years, we have kept the regulators and key stakeholders apprised of the illegal usage of unapproved technology. Even as late as August 2017, we have sought their intervention on the gross misuse of patented and regulated technologies which may pose numerous other challenges to India’s cotton ecosystem.”

In response to the question about what GEAC proposed to do about the cultivation of illegal HT cotton, Prasad said: “As soon as GEAC received such information, it acted immediately and requested Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and State Governments to take appropriate action and investigate the matter further.”

Prasad said GEAC had not received the February report of the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Nagpur, about six of nine cottonseed hybrids it had tested flashing positive for herbicide tolerance, not was it appraised by the Telangana government about a variety of Bt cottonseed called Kamadhenu being found with the HT gene. She said the Telangana government had not informed it of meetings held by its agriculture ministry on the issue of HT cotton cultivation in the state.



Leave a Comment

Hit Counter provided by technology news
Web Design MymensinghPremium WordPress ThemesWeb Development

I Do Not Understand Bt Cotton technology; I Know It Works

Y Kallanagouda Patil, 46, of Uppinbetegeri village in Dharwad taluk  owns 52 acres jointly with his three brothers. He holds a diploma in agriculture from a school in Raichur. Patil grows cotton on ten acres, apart from sugarcane, potato, Bengal gram, jowar, tur,moong and vegetables. He uses groundwater to irrigate his fields. The water is drawn from a depth of 280 feet. Electricity is free so he flood irrigates the fields, except the one under banana  where he uses drip irrigation. He does not micro-irrigate cotton because it is closely planted and has to make way for another crop after eight months. This farmer has his cost all worked out. Making quick mental calculations, he estimates the cost of cotton crop at Rs 22,500 an acre and the realization from 17 quintals an acre at Rs 68,000. He had planted Bayer seed. ‘I do not understand technology, he says, all I know is if I use Bt seed there will be no

Pests Snack on Chilly But Not Cotton

F Basavaraj Rudagi, 48, did not grow cotton before 2008. This farmer from Saundhi village in Dharwad district’s Kundogol taluk made a partial switch to Bt cotton as chilly was susceptible to pest attack and yield was declining. From five acres in 2009, Rudagi had fifteen of a forty acre joint farm under cotton this year, when smartindianagriculture  caught up with him in February. He tried out Bayer in a change from Mahyco and Raasi seed. Rudagi says he got 11.5 quintals (100 kg) an acre from his rain-fed crop and at Rs 4,050 a quintal, his realization was a little over Rs 46,000. The cost, he says, is Rs 26,000 an acre, excluding rental earnings had he leased out the land. This does not mesh with the profit he claims he makes, but then he admits to not keeping crop-wise accounts. Rudagi also grows peanuts, coriander, gram, safflower and jowar. There is safety in diversity. And yes he plants pigeon pea or tur around the cotton crop for bollworms to feed on so they are not forced by the survival instinct to develop resistance to Bt protein.  In this sense he is quite a cut apart. Low cotton prices are worrying but what is the alternative?