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2-Plants: Indian Bt cotton an official writeoff

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Bt cotton an official writeoff
SOURCE: The Hindu, India, by S. Ramu
DATE:   Jan 25, 2003

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Bt cotton an official writeoff

NALGONDA JAN.25. Belying the claims of the Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech
(India), Agriculture Department officials have made it clear that Bt
cotton is a disappointment in the district. They have informed the same
to the State Government in a special report.

At a meeting at the Joint Director's office here on Saturday, Divisional
Assistant Directors of the department said that the cotton variety had
failed to yield desired results. Interestingly, some of them felt that
other hybrid varieties fared well than the Bt seed.

Taking to The Hindu, the JD, M. Laxman Rao, said: "The seed did not have
the impact as it was propagated. It has failed to show good results in
the yield as well as in pest control."

As many as 359 farmers of the district opted for the controversial cotton
variety to wipe out the debts at one go but the reality has proved
disastrous. In all, the seed was sown on nearly 250 acres mainly in
Halia, Kodad and Suryapet divisions, according to officials.

The Mahyco allocated 600 packets of MECH-162 variety to the district out
of which 140 were sold in Nakrekal and each 30 in Kodad and Nalgonda.

In tune with an order of the Commissioner and Director of Agriculture,
the ADAs prepared a report with farmer-wise details on the performance of
the Bt cotton and submitted it to the JD's office.

Summing up the report, the JD said that the feedback was not encouraging.
When asked if it was due to drought, he said that other local varieties
fared well in similar conditions. Surprisingly, some of the ADAs had
reportedly observed high pest incidence in the Bollguard seed than in
other varieties.

"Going by the hi-pitch propaganda, the Bt seed should have much
resistance but the ground reality is in contrary," said another ADA, who
has done the leg work and interacted with ryots to know the performance
of the Bt seed.

Another ADA, Murali, said that all the varieties had not shown any sign
of pest attack in first 90 days but later it was found that the Bt
variety too was susceptible to the bollworm. He opined that a thorough
research should be done to know the impact of the Bt cotton.

The farmers paid up to Rs.1,600 for a Bt cotton packet that fetches of an
acre as against Rs.450 to 500 of normal varieties. However the yield was
said to be below or on par, at times, with the local varieties.

The secretary of the district rythu sangham, Bontala Chandra Reddy, who
has studied the impact of the drought on farming community, said that it
had killing impact on the finances of farmers.

"Farmers were carried away by the high-decibel and hi-tech campaign of
the company as well as officials. Now farmers seek to know who pays the
heavy loss they incurred," he said.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Bt cotton 'success' a lie: Greenpeace
SOURCE: The Times of India
DATE:   Jan 24, 2003

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Bt cotton 'success' a lie: Greenpeace

HYDERABAD: Greenpeace India (GPI) refuted the findings of the Genetic
Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), appointed by the Centre, on the
performance of the Bt cotton variety. Greenpeace India said it had
undertaken a similar investigation as the one GEAC had done and visited
the same Bt cotton farmers in Warangal and Nalgonda. The government has
lied to the nation on the performance of Bt cotton. The design and
methodology of the GEAC was woefully inadequate to assess and evaluate
the performance of Bt cotton, the GPI said in a statement. Refuting the
claims of Union minister T R Baalu on the satisfactory performance of Bt
cotton based on the GEAC report, Greenpeace said the assessment was done
before the end of season. Further, the assessment did not take into
account parameters like environmental risks, market rates and labour
intensity and that the sample size was too small to come to any
conclusions. Greenpeace alleged that the expert team was misdirected in
its visits by the Monsanto-Mahyco representatives, who are marketing the
Bt cotton in the country. The GEAC experts had visited the "demonstration
plots" and had not visited farmers who had a bitter experience growing Bt
cotton. Greenpeace also carried the testimonies of farmers who
contradicted their statements given to the GEAC on the better performance
of Bt cotton. When contacted, agriculture commissioner Sutirtha
Battacharya said it was too early to comment on the performance of the Bt
cotton. Centre for Resource Education executive director D Narasimha
Reddy, part of the Greenpeace study team, said the voice of the farmers
was not being heard either by the government or the company promoting the