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2-Plants: Gujarat farmers seek approval for local Bt cotton



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TITLE:  Farmers In Gujarat Seeks Approval For Local Bt Cotton
SOURCE: BharatTextile.com, India
        http://www.bharattextile.com/newsitems/1984284
DATE:   Jul 15, 2003

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INDIA: Farmers In Gujarat Seeks Approval For Local Bt Cotton

Farmers in Gujarat is demanding for the approval local BT cotton
Navbharat-151 seeds, farmers complaints that government is favouring
genetically modified (GM) cotton seed of a multinational company.

About Navbharat-151 farmers says that in the recent years it has shown a
good results. Farmers say they prefer a cheaper variety called
"Navbharat-151", developed by Ahmedabad-based Navbharat Seeds Company.
GEAC had ordered last year the destruction of this illegal BT cotton. The
state government, however, did not implement the decision.

President of the Gujarat Khedut Samaj, or Gujarat Farmers' Society, Bipin
Desai said that "Mahyco's BT cotton has failed everywhere and yet the
government has not withdrawn its approval, On the other hand, the non-
approved variety Navbharat-151 seeds have shown very encouraging results
in Gujarat, yet it has not received official approval. Isn't this strange?"

Samaj vice-president Labhshankar Upadhyay said "The (ruling) BJP
(Bharatiya Janata Party) talked about Swadeshi (self-reliance). But it
promotes a foreign company at the cost of an Indian firm. And we stand to
lose,".

"The government-approved variety has failed, and farmers should be
compensated by the government. Isn't it surprising that the approved
variety failed, and the unofficial variety gave better results?" Upadhyay
alleged.

BT cottonseeds have been genetically engineered to produce a toxin that
can kill the bollworm that harms crops and is a major headache for cotton
farmers.

The farmers have demanded that Navbharat-151 seeds should be officially
approved at the earliest, as they have given higher yields, compared to
the officially approved variety.

"And even if no permission is granted to Navbharat-151, farmers are not
going to stop sowing the same as it has been more effective in fighting
bollworms," said Upadhyay.

The Samaj has estimated that farmers have benefited to the tune of
Rs.6,000 to Rs.8,000 per acre with the use of Navbharat-151 seeds.

"As the Navbharat crop requires less time, some farmers were able to take
a second crop and earn Rs.8,000 to Rs.10,000 more at the end of the
year," said Upadhyay.

The two leaders also cited a report prepared by a committee of experts
appointed by the state government to study the BT cotton scenario.

The committee recommended in November 2002 that the approval granted to
the Mahyco variety be reviewed and the case of Navbharat-151 and similar
varieties be reconsidered "in the interest of farmers".

"Navbharat-151 BT cottonseeds have been planted by farmers in large
areas. As they have given good yields this year, there is a possibility
of increase in the area under cultivation for Navbharat seeds.

"Therefore, the government should recognise the seeds and let farmers
increase production, increase quality and benefit economically," the
committee noted.




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