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2-Plants: Bt cotton lets down Andhra Pradesh farmers



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

TITLE:  Bt cotton lets down AP farmers: Study
SOURCE: Business Line, India
        http://www.blonnet.com/2002/12/09/stories/2002120900760700.htm
DATE:   Dec 9, 2002

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Bt cotton lets down AP farmers: Study

HYDERABAD, Dec. 8 - BT Cotton, introduced by Mahyco-Monsanto company in 
Andhra Pradesh, has failed to fulfil its promise, says a study made by 
agricultural scientists Dr Abdul Qayoom, former Joint Director of 
Agriculture in the State and Mr Sakkari Kiran of Permaculture Institute of 
India.

The study report was released to the press here on Saturday by Mr P. V. 
Sateesh, Convenor of Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity, a 
non-government organisation.

The study, conducted in 11 villages of Warangal district in AP, states that 
in economic terms, Bt cotton has proved a total failure. The current yields 
for both Bt and non-Bt cotton are same at 4-5 quintals per acre. But non-Bt 
plants have a life of 2-3 months more and are expected to yield another 3-4 
quintals. Therefore, non-Bt cotton will produce at least 30 per cent more 
cotton.

Besides, the pesticides use has shown only a marginal difference. While 
farmers have sprayed pesticides 4-6 times, they have sprayed 5-7 times on 
non-Bt cotton crop.

On the whole, the study states, Bt cotton farmers have spent a total of Rs 
8,000 per acre while non- Bt farmers spent Rs 7,100 till date. Bt farmers 
paid Rs 1,600 for seeds per acre while non-Bt farmers paid only Rs 450 per 
acre. However, Bt farmers had one spray of pesticides less than the non-Bt 
farmers resulting in a saving of Rs 400. Despite this, Bt farmer had to end 
up spending Rs 900 more per acre than non-Bt farmer as had to pay Rs 1,150 
more towards the purchase of seed. Besides, the labour charges are stated 
to be about Rs 150 more for picking Bt cotton.

This apart, the price of Bt cotton is 10 per cent less than the non-Bt 
cotton in the local market as the size of its bolls and staple length is 
smaller than the conventional cotton hybrids under cultivation. As a 
result, in terms of total earning at the end of the cotton season, a non-Bt 
farmer is estimated to earn around Rs 6,000 more per acre than a Bt farmer, 
the study says.

Mr Sateesh told newspersons that the findings completely belie the 
expectations and hype raised by the Bt cotton industry. Bt cotton was 
expected to reduce pesticide usage, increase the crop yields and enhance 
the earnings of the farmers. However, it had failed on all three counts and 
the cotton farmers of Warangal district were saying they would not 
cultivate Bt cotton hereafter.


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

TITLE:  Economists' Report Card On Bt Cotton
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B Sharma
        http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=23412
DATE:   Dec 9, 2002

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Economists' Report Card On Bt Cotton

The commercial sowing of legally approved Bt cotton seeds for one complete 
season in India is over. The harvesting of cotton in the country has almost 
come to a close. This is the time to assess the impact of largescale sowing 
of Bt cotton in the country.

Reports have already come in citing some success stories of Bt cotton 
cultivation at some places. There are reports of cases where Bt cotton has 
not fared well in terms of the expected yield and returns to the farmers 
due to high cost of seeds and more application of fertilisers and water. 
Some reports say that the seeds 'illegally' distributed by Navbharat have 
given more promising results in terms of yield and more returns than the 
legally approved seeds of Mahyco.

In this context, Dr Sudarshan Iyengar, director of Gujarat Institute of 
Development Research (GIDR), Ahmedabad and Dr N Lalitha, assistant 
professor of GIDR wrote in the current edition of the prestigious 'Indian 
Journal of Agricultural Economic' published by the Indian Society of 
Agricultural Economics, Mumbai castigating the regulatory authority in the 
country for unnecessarily rushing the approval of Mech 12, Mech 162 and 
Mech 184 Bt cotton hybrid seeds developed by Mahyco in collaboration with 
Monsanto.

The experts duo also clarified "the purpose of this paper is not to suggest 
that we should shun this technology, but to tread cautiously especially in 
the context of lack of transparency, co-ordination and monitoring by the 
certifying authorities in adapting a new technology like the transgenic 
seeds, which has definite implication for India. In future, if it is 
possible that since the Bt cotton seeds have the government certification 
to go for commercialisation, there could be a tremendous demand, which 
could pave for hike in prices and adulterated seeds. There should be an 
undertaking by the company for eventual compensation of the farmers if the 
seeds fail. A very strong institution mechanism should be built to prevent 
the sale of 'truthful' and adulterated varieties of Bt seeds."

Dr Iyengar and Dr Lalitha questioned "when a country like the US had taken 
more than 10 years to conduct the trials and subsequent commercialisation, 
it is unclear why the Indian government is in a hurry to release the 
transgenic crop. Where developed countries like the US, Australia and even 
China have so far not allowed the transgenic products to enter the food 
chain, India has taken a very bold decision to do so, in spite of the 
reports on allergic impact on humans caused by transgenic corn in Mexico.

In all the countries, so far the produce of the transgenic crops is 
restricted to industrial applicability alone and has not entered the food 
chain."

Quoting the regulatory authority in India, the writers duo said "more 
interestingly, GEAC has said that there is no harm in using the transgenic 
cotton in food products and no labelling is required for the domestic 
market, while labelling will be essential for the export market."

The two experts also said that there has been mixed results with farmers in 
US regarding Bt cotton. They said, "Harvest time reported mixed results 
with farmers from the West to the East coast reporting of bollworm damage 
of varying degrees and there was no change in the behaviour of the pest 
attack but a substantial reduction in the pesticide use." They said also 
quoted Shiva et al saying, "the returns from the Bt and non-Bt cotton were 
the same for the US farmers" and further adding, "interestingly, North 
California State University's research study reported that one in 350 
tobacco bud worms carried resistance to the Bt toxin......Bt cotton could 
remain effective against tobacco budworm for 10 years."

Dr Iyengar and Dr Lalitha said, "Since the concerned State Government's 
Biotechnology Coordination Committees were not consulted in Mahyco's trials 
it raises a fundamental question whether the required permission came from 
GEAC or the RCGM?"

They alleged that field trials were not conducted on a step-by-step basis 
and the field trial results have not yet been made public.

They said, "ICAR trials have also been carried out only for one season, 
sometime between June 2001 and March 2002. For identifying the possible 
pest attack and GMOs impact on the soil diversity and environment, the 
field trials should have been ideally carried out for a minimum of three to 
four seasons."



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