GENET archive


2-Plants: Only 1 out of 13 Bt cotton applications approved in India

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  GEAC approval for only one Bt cotton variety
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B. Sharma
DATE:   13 Apr 2005

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GEAC approval for only one Bt cotton variety

 NEW DELHI, APRIL 13: The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has
approved only one variety of Bt cotton hybrid out of the 13 listed for
commercial cultivation in 2005 season in central India. It has also okayed
large-scale field trials for three transgenic cotton varieties in north

The decision on extension of the period of approval for three Bt cotton
hybrids of Mahyco was deferred on account of adverse reports from Andhra
Pradesh government. These Mahyco varieties, namely Mech-12 Bt, Mech-162 Bt
and Mech-184 Bt, were approved for sowing in central and southern parts of
the country. The approval period ends in 2004 season. GEAC has asked
reports from other state governments about the performance of these three
varieties. The next meeting of GEAC is scheduled on May 11.

RCH-138 variety of Bt cotton hybrid developed by Rasi Seed Ltd was approved
for commercial cultivation in central India. Other three varieties of Rasi
Seed, which were listed in the agenda, were not approved in absence of
adequate reports from the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM),
and Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC). Similar is the case with the
four Bt cotton hybrids of Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, three of Mahyco and two of
Ankur Seeds.

The three transgenic cotton seeds approved for largescale field trials in
north India are JKCH-1947 of JK Agri, NEC-ER Bt of Nath Seeds and 02-50 VIP
of Syngenta Seeds India. The cotton seed developed by Syngenta does not
contain Bt technology, but a transgenic technology of a different kind
called VIP technology.

Dr Suman Sahai of the Gene Campaign, who made her presentations before the
GEAC about the failure of Bt cotton, alleged that only five minutes were
allowed to her. She accused GEAC chairman Suresh Chandra of saying that the
government is not answerable to the NGOs. Dr Sahai demanded that GEAC,
before taking final decision, should consult the NGOs and not just take
inputs from the NGOs.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  End to Monsanto's Bt Cotton Monopoly?
SOURCE: Sify, India, by Harish Damodaran
DATE:   13 Apr 2005

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India: End to Monsanto's Bt Cotton Monopoly?

New Delhi - There is seemingly good news for domestic cotton growers, who
are now wholly dependent on Monsanto for transgenic Bt technology to combat
the dreaded American bollworm insect pest.

The US life sciences giant's monopoly is set to be broken, with at least
three companies - JK Agri Genetics, Syngenta Seeds India and Nath Seeds -
in the process of introducing genetically modified (GM) cotton hybrids
incorporating alternative gene constructs or `operating systems,' in common
man's parlance.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) is scheduled to meet here
on Wednesday to consider giving permission to the three companies to
undertake large-scale trials and seed production of their hybrids for the
Central and North zones. If things go as per plan, these hybrids would be
ready for commercial cultivation by 2007.

The Bt cotton hybrids - currently being marketed by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds
Company (Mahyco), Rasi Seeds and Ankur Seeds - incorporate a `foreign' gene
called cry1Ac, derived from a soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis. The
technology for incorporation of the gene, in turn, is based on Bollgard,
the specific gene construct patented by Monsanto.

Monsanto has so far inked sub-licensing agreements for Bollgard with 21
domestic companies, which, critics argue, gives it a power similar to what
Microsoft enjoys on its Windows operating system. While a 450-gram packet
of Bt cotton is now sold at Rs 1,600 to the farmer, against Rs 450-500 for
non-Bt hybrids, it is estimated that up to 70 per cent of the price
difference is constituted by the technology fee that the seed companies pay
to Monsanto.

But the emergence of alternative sources of Bt technology could well change
the picture, doing to Monsanto "what Linux has done to Microsoft." JK Agri,
for one, claims that its Bt cotton hybrids are developed from a `modified
cry1Ac gene' technology developed by Prof S.K. Sen's team at the Indian
Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

Nath Seeds has sourced its technology from China, having secured rights for
a `fusion' cry1Ac/cry1Ab Bt gene, developed by the Chinese Academy of
Agricultural Sciences.

Syngenta's Bt cotton, on the other hand is based on a completely different
set of genes called Vip or vegetative insecticidal protein. The genes are
isolated from the same Bt and they too synthesise proteins that `bind'
themselves to the mid-gut of the insect inhibiting their metabolic

Industry sources say that once the new hybrids hit the market, Bt cotton
prices may drop to about Rs 1,000 per packet. As a response to the
impending competition perhaps, Monsanto is now planning to launch Bollgard
II, an improved version of Bollgard.

                                  PART III
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TITLE:  13 Bt cotton varieties to get cultivation approval
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B. Sharma
DATE:   12 Apr 2005

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13 Bt cotton varieties to get cultivation approval

 NEW DELHI, APRIL 12: Even as the three-year performance of three varieties
of Bt cotton of Mahyco remains under controversy, the country’s regulatory
authority is slated to approve at least 13 new Bt cotton hybrids for
commercial cultivation in central India.

The regulatory body, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), is
meeting on Wednesday to give its nod for commercial cultivation of four Bt
cotton hybrids each developed by Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd and Rassi Seed Ltd,
three such varieties developed by Mahyco and two such varieties developed
by Ankur Seeds Ltd. Nuziveedu Seeds and Rasi Seed are sub-licencees of
Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech, which holds the technology from the seed
multinational, Monsanto.

The GEAC will also review the three-year performance of Mech-12 Bt, Mech-162
Bt and Mech-184 Bt of Mahyco, before extending the period of approval for
another three-year period. Already four studies done by Centre for
Sustainable Agriculture, Gene Campaign, Research Foundation for Science,
Technology and Ecology, Deccan Development Society and Greenpeace
International have shown failure of Bt cotton. Eminent scientist and Padma
Bhushan awardee Dr Pushpa M Bhargava has also said that Bt cotton failed to
perform. Only the survey conducted by the ad and market research agency,
IMRB, has shown success of Bt cotton cultivation.

In its March 4 meeting, the GEAC had approved six Bt cotton hybrids -- two
each developed by Rassi Seed, Mahyco and Ankur Seeds -- for commercial
cultivation in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Bt cotton hybrids developed by Nuziveedu Seeds, which are likely to be
approved on Wednesday for commercial cultivation in central India, are:
NCS-145, Bunny Bt, NCS-207 and Malika Bt. Incidentally, a study report
prepared by the the Delhi-based Gene Campaign shows illegal cultivation of
Bunny Bt and Malika Bt in south India in 2004. The Gene Campaign study has
shown that approved Bt cotton varieties failed to perform in south India.

Bt cotton hybrids of Rasi Seed which are likely to get the approval on
Wednesday for commercial cultivation in central India, are: RCH-138 Bt,
RCH-144 Bt, RCH-118 Bt and RCH-359 Bt. The Bt cotton hybrids of Mahyco,
which are likely to be approved for central India, are: MRC-6160 Bt,
MRC-6301 Bt and MRC-6304 Bt. The two Bt cotton hybrids likely to be
approved for central India are Ankur-651 and Ankur-09.

GEAC is set to give its nod for a number of Bt cotton hybrids developed by
several companies for large-scale field trials in north and central India.
The seed firms which are seeking permission for field trials of tansgenic
hybrid cotton are Vikki Agrotech, Ganga Kaveri, Paravardhan Seeds, Prabhat
Agri Biotech, Rasi Seed, Ajeet Seed, Tulsi Seeds, Emergent Genetics,
Nuziveedu Seed, etc.

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinaeckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
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