Agri-biotechnology Bt technology GM Crops

We Reacted With ‘Hubris and Naivety’ to Consumer Backlash: Monsanto CEO

Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto says the company did cool science and worked within regulatory parameters, but was ‘abstract’ in conversations with consumers about GM technology.

Hugh Grant, the President and CEO of Monsanto has admitted that the American seed company did not anticipate the consumer backlash against genetically-modified technology when introduced nearly 20 years ago and had responded to it with ‘hubris and naivety’.

Grant was speaking to UK’s The Independent newspaper which is doing a series on the crops. He hoped that crop science companies and anti-GM activists would find a middle ground and that the debate around the technology would be nuanced rather than ‘intellectually interesting’ but ‘practically ridiculous.’

A lack of public trust in big corporations, particularly American ones, helped activists discredit the technology, he said.

He said those opposed to the technology had no alternatives to offer about producing food for a world population that was estimated to rise to nine billion from seven billion now. Since new land could not be brought under cultivation (without massive deforestation), Monsanto and GM technology would have to be very much part of the food chain.

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(Photo of Hugh Grant, courtesy Monsanto) 

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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?