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9-Misc: Indian scientists follow GE industry's PR arguments

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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Biotechnology key to agrarian economy problems
SOURCE: The Times of India, edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   February 10, 2001

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Biotechnology key to agrarian economy problems

LUDHIANA: Rajan Kayshap, principal secretary, science, technology and 
environment, was cited as telling the Fourth Punjab Science Congress at PAU 
here on Friday that biotechnology is the solution to the lag faced by 
Punjab in the agricultural sector, and that while there is no doubt that 
wheat and rice were in abundance at present, and Punjab's share in the 
central pool was declining, but this much hyped problem of abundance was 
illusionary and misleading.

Kayshap was further cited as saying that it was not the government alone 
which had not been able to keep pace with the farmers, most of the 
educational institutions and universities, including PAU, had also not been 
able to make a drastic enough shift towards modernisation, science, 
technology and mechanisation, not to the extent as was required by the 
farmers in Punjab.

Kayshap informed that astounding facts were presented by scientists in 
Isreal, who have claimed that the present yield could be increased 34 times 
with greater mechanisation of the farms with higher technology machines. 
Production could be increased as much as 300 times, if farming was done in 
controlled conditions with green house effect.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Seeds of godlike power
SOURCE: The Times of India, edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   February 11, 2001

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Seeds of godlike power

According to this story, farmers love genetically engineered seeds because 
they don't have to spend on costly pesticides and they raise yields and 
income by 30 to 50 per cent. Consumers like them because the food is less 
toxic and more nutritious. The story says that in the past five years, 
genetically -improved crops have grown 25 fold in acreage -- a dramatic 
rate of adoption for any new technology. Tragically, India's farmers have 
not been allowed to experience this miracle. China, our rival, has beaten 
us in this race as well.

The new cottonseed, called Bt cotton, is especially popular because it is 
resistant to the dreaded bollworm, which attacks 70 per cent of India's 
cotton crop and destroys 35 to 50 per cent of it every year. Hence, 36 per 
cent of the US and 10 per cent of Chinese cotton crop is planted with Bt 
cotton seed. The story says that if Andhra farmers had used it, their crop 
would have survived and we might have prevented suicides. Bt cotton is not 
available to Indian farmers because our regulators have not approved it 
despite six years of successful trials by Maharashtra Hybrid Seed 
Corporation (Mayco), the seed company. Similarly, Proagro's mustard seeds 
have been tested to death for seven years and they have not been yet been 

The story says that Chinese bureaucrats, in contrast, take a more practical 
approach. They saw that Bt cotton was being extensively used in America and 
a dozen countries, and it had cleared the rigorous requirements of the US 
FDA. So, they decided not to re-invent the wheel, but to merely check Bt 
cotton's bio-safety in their soil and climates. Hence, 18 months after 
trials, Chinese farmers had begun to enjoy its fruits while Indian farmers 
were committing suicides.

As with any breakthrough, genetically -improved seeds have plenty of 
critics. The story says that European NGOs have funded Indian NGOs in order 
to stop transgenic seeds here and they are spreading plenty of 
disinformation. They have even taken the Indian government to court for 
approving the Bt cotton trials. Meanwhile, Professor Nanjundaswamy 
instigated 3,000 farmers in Karnataka on January 3, 2001 and they uprooted 
Mayco's trials in two locations. According to scientists, the European 
stand is emotional and based on unknown future risks and not on data. But 
these vocal critics have slowed our bureaucrats and made them timid.

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