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2-Plants: India to destroy illegally grown Bt cotton



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TITLE:  India to destroy illegally grown GM crops
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   November 23, 2001

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India to destroy illegally grown GM crops

AHMEDABAD, India - Authorities in India's western Gujarat state have begun 
procurement of illegally grown gene-engineered cotton from farmers to 
prevent replanting of the seeds, officials said yesterday. "We have asked 
all district collectors to take steps to procure BT cotton reaching 
markets. We plan to procure BT cotton to the extent possible," P.K Ghosh, 
principal secretary Forests and Environment in Gujarat, told Reuters. The 
government has already procured about 120 tonnes of bacillus thuringiensis 
(BT) cotton, he said.

Earlier this month, several hundred farmers in Gujarat, the country's 
largest cotton growing state, were ordered to hand over genetically 
modified (GM) cotton crops to the government because commercial production 
of GM crops is illegal. The discovery of illegal growing of BT cotton had 
triggered a nation-wide debate among environmentalists and pro-farmer 
lobbies about the government's stand on commercialisation of GM crops. 
India does not allow commercial production of genetically modified crops, 
but has allowed a few companies to carry out field trials under government 
supervision.

While green activists have called for a 10-year moratorium on introduction 
of GM crops, pro-farmer lobbies have questioned the delay in giving a green 
signal for gene-engineered crops that could multiply yields and reduce 
input costs. Farmers in Gujarat planted BT cotton, sold by a private firm, 
on an estimated 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres). Ghosh said the cotton 
procured by the government would be ginned and seeds separated and 
destroyed. "The objective behind the exercise is to prevent farmers from 
using the seeds for sowing next year," he said.

Though India is a leading cotton growing country, the per-hectare yield is 
only around 300 kg compared with the world average of around 650 kg. 
Officials said the government would launch a campaign among the farmers to 
warn them against possible hazards of planting GM seeds on health and 
environment. "We have nothing against GM crops, but as long as it is not 
legally permitted we have to caution farmers against planting them," Ghosh 
said.

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