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2-Plants: Indonesian Bt cotton trials contaminate surrounding fields

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TITLE:  Local cotton affected by genetically modified crop
SOURCE: The Jakarta Post, Indonesia
DATE:   Nov 21, 2002

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Local cotton affected by genetically modified crop

A study by a post-graduate student from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture 
(IPB) has shown that genetically modified cotton grown experimentally in 
South Sulawesi has contaminated areas around the plantation. Maharmah 
Nadir, the researcher, said on Tuesday that the contamination could be 
detected through molecular observation only. Maharmah conducted her study 
from September 2001 through August 2002, at a South Sulawesi genetically 
modified cotton plantation owned and funded by American firm PT Monagro 

"Local cotton farmers will only find out that their cotton has been 
polluted by the modified cotton at harvest time. With their crops being 
similar to the genetically modified cotton, they could face legal charges 
of growing genetically modified cotton without the permission of Monsanto 
(the firm that holds the patent for the modified cotton)," she told The 
Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Dadang Gusyana, spokesman for Monagro Kimia, said on Wednesday that his 
company doubted the methodology of the latest study, and therefore could 
not yet accept its findings. "We have been conducting research for three 
years and we have not yet found any adverse impact (from the genetically 
modified cotton)," he said. He also claimed that Maharmah had conducted her 
study in Monagro Kimia's fields without obtaining permission from the 

Maharmah carried out her research in Bajeng subdistrict, South Sulawesi, 
where the Bolgar strain of genetically modified cotton is being cultivated 
close by local cotton of the Kanesia 7 variety.

She said that if the contaminated local cotton was used as raw material for 
oil, the oil could not be exported to countries that banned unlabeled 
genetically modified agricultural and food products. Therefore, she 
suggested that local cotton farmers and Monagro Kimia should stagger their 
crops so that they would be harvested at different times. "Another 
alternative would be for the genetically modified cotton and cotton plants 
to be quarantined," she said.


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