Ag in Parliament Agri-biotechnology Agriculture Policy Briefing Bt technology GM Crops

No Ban on GM Crop Field Trials, Govt Policy is Case-by-Case Approvals, Ministers Tell Lok Sabha

* The government policy is to allow GM crops after full scientific evaluation of their bio-safety and impact, impact on the environment and on consumers, Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, MoS for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries told the Lok Sabha on 22 July, 2014 in response to unstarred question No. 1738. He said the government follows a policy of ‘case by case’ approvals for GM crops.

* On 23 July, 2014, Minister for Environment and Forests, Prakash Javadekar told Sultanpur (UP) MP Varun Gandhi that there ‘is no proposal for a complete ban’ on release of GM organisms either for commercial cultivation or for experiments. Before any GM plant is approved for commercial cultivation, ‘extensive evaluation and regulatory  approval process takes place’ he said in reply to unstarred question No. 1932 in the Lok Sabha.
* ‘There is no credible scientific evidence proving that GM crops have an adverse impact on the environment, human health and livestock,’ MoS agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan told the Lok Sabha in response to unstarred question No 3627 on 5 August, 2014. Twenty seven countries including the US, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada and China were cultivating twenty five GM crops including soyabean, cotton, maize, canola (rapeseed), papaya and tomato on a 175.2 million ha in 2013, he added.
* MoEF Prakash Javadekar told the Lok Sabha on 26 November, 2014 (unstarred question No. 596) that the central government had filed its objections in the Supreme Court against the ban on GM crop trials recommended by five of six members of the Technical Expert Committee which the apex court had set up in May 2012 to examine the strength of India’s regulatory mechanism. The government is of the view that ‘research in GM and confined field trials for generating bio-safety data with all due precautions should be allowed to continue in the national interest,’ Javadekar stated.

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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?