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TITLE:  PAN AP summary of Bt cotton developments in Indonesia
SOURCE: Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, Malaysia
DATE:   October 2001

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PAN AP summary of Bt cotton developments in Indonesia

Compiled by: Sarah Hindmarsh (GE Campaign Programme Officer)
Reviewed by: KONPHALINDO (National Consortium For Nature and Forest 
Conservation In Indonesia) and Riza Tjahadi (PAN Indonesia)

Latest News:
The NGO Coalition for Biosafety and Food Safety (representing six NGOs and 
supported by another 72) lost its court case on September 27, 2001 against 
the Indonesian government and PT Monagro Kimia over the planting of Bt 
cotton in South Sulawesi. The coalition is taking the case to a higher 
court.

The government will extend the permit to PT Monagro Kimia to continue 
planting Bt cotton in South Sulawesi next year when the current permit 
expires. At the beginning of September the Agriculture Minister declared Bt 
cotton would be planted on a larger scale, and in two more provinces - East 
and Central Java.

The Bt cotton has succumbed to drought and pest infestations. Farmers have 
complained about the claims of superior agronomic advantage and performance 
of the GE cotton crop. On September 13 farmers burnt down their plantations 
destroying at least three hectares of Bt cotton.

Background: PT Monagro Kimia, a Monsanto subsidiary, started variety trials 
in 1996 to find a cotton variety for cultivation in Indonesia, specifically 
in South Sulawesi. In 1998, as part of the regulatory process for the 
commercialisation of GE crops, glasshouse trials and limited field trials 
were conducted. In 1999, Bt cotton was approved by the Indonesian 
government and declared as environmentally safe to be planted in 
Indonesia.(1) However, PT Monagro Kimia had been distributing Bt 
cottonseeds since 1998 . The company has been conducting field trials since 
1998 (2). This is reportedly, the first GMO 'field trial' in Indonesia. The 
amount of land planted to Bt cotton in 2000 was at least 500 hectares.

On February 7, 2001 the Ministry of Agriculture issued Decree No. 107/2001 
allowing the limited release of the cottonseed variety Bt DP 5690B as 
quality seed under the trade name NuCOTN 35B (Bollgard) on plantations in 
seven regencies (districts) in South Sulawesi (Takalar, Gowa, Bantaeng, 
Bulukumba, Bone, Soppeng and Wajo).

In 2001 the total area planted to Bt cotton was approximately 4,400 
hectares (involving approximately 6,500 farmers)(3).

The use of Bt cotton in South Sulawesi is also being promoted by local 
government officials. As reported by NGOs, the Bupati (regent or district 
head) of Bulukumba said he would "instruct" all his colleagues down to 
village heads on the benefits of Bt cotton for farmers.(4)

The NGO Coalition for Biosafety and Food Safety (representing six NGOs and 
supported by another 72)(5) took legal action against the degree. The 
coalition claims the degree was issued hastily, without consideration of 
the potential implications of using transgenic products; it violated 
Indonesia's environmental law (23/1997) because no environmental impact 
assessment was conducted; and the public's right to information and to be 
involved in decision-making was not upheld. In addition the decree allows 
for "limited" sales of the cotton yet no restriction on the cultivatable 
area was outlined. The coalition asserts the Ministry of Agriculture was 
merely seeking to legitimize past violations by PT Monagro Kimia.(6)

On September 27 the court case was lost by the NGO coalition. The 
government will extend the permit to PT Monagro Kimia to continue planting 
Bt cotton in South Sulawesi next year when the current permit expires(7). 
At the beginning of September the Agriculture Minister declared Bt cotton 
would be planted on a larger scale, and in two more provinces - East and 
Central Java(8).

The NGO coalition is taking the case to a higher court (the previous 
hearing was heard at the district court).

The Bt cotton has succumbed to drought and pest infestations(9). Many 
farmers have complained about the claims of superior agronomic advantage 
and performance of the GE cotton crop. Even the government revealed that 
more than 70 per cent of all the Bt crop locations didn't produce the 
promised expected yields(10).

On September 13 farmers in the village of Kajang in the Bulukumba regency, 
about 230 km south of Makassar burnt down their plantations in a show of 
discontent towards PT Monagro Kimia. At least three hectares were 
destroyed.(11)

The farmers also demanded an explanation from the South Sulawesi governor 
as to why he allowed South Sulawesi to become the testing ground for the 
controversial technology, which they claim turned out to be a failure(12).

In March 2001 a total of 40 tonnes of Bt cottonseed was brought into 
Indonesia from South Africa. Bt cottonseed has also been brought in from 
Australia(13).

On April 5 2001 UNISON, an international public sector trade union 
supported by 1.3 million members expressed their solidarity with the 
Indonesian Organic Farmers Network in their opposition to the importation 
of the Bt cottonseed(14).

On April 17, 2001 some 500 farmers and other anti-GE advocates from all 
over Indonesia rallied on the International Day of Farmer's Struggles 
Against GMOs, in front of Monsanto and the Ministry of Agriculture in 
Jakarta. Farmers called for the destruction of the Bt cotton field trial 
and other GE products in the country, no further releases of Bt cottonseeds 
by the government and the eviction of Monsanto from the country.

In South Africa a petition by SAFeAGE (South African Freeze Alliance on 
Genetic Engineering), signed by 110 local and international groups and 
individuals, says the trade in GMOs remains largely unregulated in the 
developing world - something that should have been addressed by the 
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.(15)

------------------------------------

For further information contact:
Secretariat for The NGO Coalition for Biosafety and Food Safety
Tel/ Fax: (62-21) 787 3169
E-mail: konphal@rad.net.id

Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP)
Tel: (604) 657 0271/ 656 0381
Fax (604) 657 7445
E-mail: panap@panap.po.my
pcaravan@tm.net.my
Web site: http:www//poptel.org.uk/panap/

(1) Indonesia now into GM crop production, Philippine Star, August 5, 2001.
(2) Legal battle over biotech products kicks off, The Jakarta Post National 
News, June 22, 2001, http://www.thejakartapost.com.
(3) Buoyed Monsanto says cotton project to continue, The Jakarta Post 
National News, September 21, 2001, http://www.thejakartapost.com.
(4) Angry Farmer Burnt Bollgard Cotton: Monsanto' Sponsored Cultivated Area 
in South Sulawesi, YLKSS Press Release, September 2001.
(5) Some of the NGOs include the National Consortium for Nature and Forest 
Conservation (Konphalindo), the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Indonesia, 
the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI), the South Sulawesi Consumers 
Foundation (YLK Sulawesi Selatan) and the Indonesian Centre for 
Environmental Law (ICEL).
(6) Angry Farmer Burnt Bollgard Cotton: Monsanto' Sponsored Cultivated Area 
in South Sulawesi, YLKSS Press Release, September 2001.
(7) Indonesian Govt To Extend Permit For GMO Cotton Planting, Dow Jones 
Newswires, September 18, 2001.
(8) Buoyed Monsanto says cotton project to continue, The Jakarta Post 
National News, September 21, 2001, http://www.thejakartapost.com; 
Konphalindo Press Release, September 27, 2001; Pers com, Riza V. Tjahjadi, 
October 17, 2001.
(9) Pests attack genetically modified cotton, The Jakarta Post, June 29, 
2001, http://www.thejakartapost.com/yesterdaydetail.asp?fileid=
20010629.A06; Pros and cons of transgenic cotton continue in S. Sulawesi, 
The Jakarta Post Features, July 17, 2001; Transgenic cotton irks farmers, 
The Jakarta Post: National News, September 15, 2001, http://
www.thejakartapost.com.
(10) Konphalindo Press Release, September 27, 2001.
(11) Transgenic cotton irks farmers, The Jakarta Post: National News, 
September 15, 2001, http://www.thejakartapost.com.
(12) Ibid
(13) Ibid
(14) Pers com. Riza V. Tjahjadi, April 11, 2001.
(15) GM seed export to East slammed, The Mail and Guardian, April 12, 2001. 



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