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7-Business: GMO cotton boosts yields in India says Monsanto study



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TITLE:  GMO Cotton Boosts Yields in India - Monsanto
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   7 Apr 2005

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GMO Cotton Boosts Yields in India - Monsanto

NEW DELHI - Yields from genetically modified (GMO) cotton hybrids were 58
percent higher than conventional seeds in India last year, a survey
commissioned by a Monsanto joint venture said on Wednesday.

The study of the cotton-growing southern and central regions conducted by
market researcher IMRB International said GMO cotton yielded 802 kg per
acre, compared with 507 kg from traditional crops.

The survey was commissioned by Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Ltd -- a
joint venture between India's Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. (Mahyco) and
US biotech giant Monsanto Co.

The worth of biotech grains is debated worldwide, with advocates saying
they could lead to a more secure future for food while critics say they
could produce new toxins and allergens.

India opened the door to GMO technology in 2002 after years of trials.
Mahyco, 26 percent owned by Monsanto, was allowed to sell GMO cotton for
sowing in southern and central states.

Last month, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the main
regulatory body, approved new varieties of transgenic cotton for the
northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

India's cotton production in 2004/05 (Oct-Sept) is estimated to have
risen to more than 21 million bales from 17.7 million a year ago, mainly
because of the use of transgenic cotton in large areas, government
officials and traders say.

"We have been getting a good response from farmers and we expect the area
to increase three-fold in the coming season," Bipin Solanki, deputy
managing director of the joint venture firm, said.

He said Bt cotton was sown on 1.3 million acres last year.

Bt cotton, widely grown around the world, contains a gene from Bacillus
thuringiensis, a bacterium species. When ingested by bollworm, a pest, it
causes lethal paralysis in the digestive tract.

Net profit of farmers who grew GMO cotton was 163 percent more than those
with non-GMO varieties, the survey said.

Cotton sowing in India begins in April and harvesting is done in October.




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