GENET archive


2-Plants: Indian farm bodies seek ban on Bt cotton cultivation

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

TITLE:  Farm bodies seek ban on Bt cotton cultivation
SOURCE: The Financial Express, by Ashok B. Sharma
DATE:   23 Sep 2005

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Farm bodies seek ban on Bt cotton cultivation

NEW DELHI, SEPT 23: Leading farmers' organisations have demanded a ban on
Bt cotton and a moratorium on any further approval of genetically
modified (GM) crops for commercial cultivation.

They cautioned the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) not to do
anything that would put the livelihood of millions of farmers in
jeopardy. The NCF, headed by Dr MS Swaminathan, had convened a meeting of
farmers' organisations and some individual farmers from across the
country on Thursday to discuus formulation of a separate National
Biotechnology Policy.

Among the leading farmers' organisation to call for a ban on Bt cotton
was the ruling Congress Party's outfit, Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS). Dr
Krishan Bir Chaudhary, executive chairman, BKS, said: "Bt cotton
cultivation has placed farmers into heavy losses in the past three years.
Three varieties of Monsanto's Bt cotton failed miserably in Andhra
Pradesh. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had to ban its
cultivation in Andhra Pradesh on receiving adverse reports from the state
government and farmers. The GEAC also banned the cultivation of
Monsanto's Mech-12 Bt in entire South India."

He said that based on the experiences of Bt cotton cultivation in the
past three years, the GEAC should not have approved any new transgenic
varieties as demanded by the farmers. But unfortunately, bowing to the
pressures from the industry, GEAC approved 13 new Bt cotton varieties for
the current season, he said and added that these new varieties are also
not performing well.

P Chengal Reddy of Industry-Farmers Alliance, however, said that GM crops
hold out better prospects for farmers. He called for setting up of an
autonomous regulator for GM crops, greater allocation for research on GM
crops in public sector and public-private partnership.

Vijay Javandhia of Shetkari Sangathan said that the government should
encourage development and improvement of tradtional varieties of crops
instead of introducing GM crops. Mahender Singh Tikait, president of
Bharatiya Kisan Union, said that the farmers are not in a position to buy
hybrid seed each year at high price and the seed companies should not be
allowed to produce hybrid seeds.

The BKS leader, Dr Chaudhary called for immediate compensation to Bt
cotton growers. He alleged that Monsanto is reluctant to pay the minimum
level of compensation determined by the Andhra Pradesh government. He
said in future the the extent of losses should be determined jointly by
the farmers and panchayat leaders at the farm level and the compensation
so determined should be paid at the farm level. He alleged there are
reports that GM crops have caused pollen flow to other crops in different
countries. It has also created health and environmental hazards.

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

TITLE:  CSOs report foul practices in Bt cotton sales
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India
DATE:   21 Sep 2005

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CSOs report foul practices in Bt cotton sales

NEW DELHI, SEPT 21: A report released by Monitoring and Evaluation
Committee (MEC) set up by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has alleged
that transgenic seed companies have resorted to false and misleading
claims and unethical practices to sell Bt cotton to farmers.

The CSOs namely Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Greenpeace India,
Adivasi Ekta Sangathan, AKRSP, Dead, Grameen Vikas, Jan Saahas, Kheti
Virasat Mission, Krishnadevaraya Rythu Sankshema Sangam, Krushi, Mari,
Navajyoti, Pasumai Tayagam, Prasun, Rashtriya Satyagrah Dal, Sampark,
Sarvodaya Youth Organisation, Secure, Vasps and Yuva had jointly set up a
MEC on Bt cotton. This MEC was coordinated by Greenpeace India and Centre
for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) and the study was undertaken in Punjab,
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The study compiled evidences to show numerous unethical practices for its
products and then claiming it as "the willingness of Indian farmers". The
MEC has called for accountability mechanisms to be put in place, to
ensure that aggressive and unethical practices used by the Bt Cotton seed
corporations to gain market share are put under check.

"The aggressive and misleading selling techniques adopted by the Bt
Cotton companies show utter disregard for the farmers' choice to buy
seed. This also severely limits the options available for promoting safer
alternatives like organic farming," alleged Dr GV Ramanjaneyulu,
executive director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.

According to Ms Thangamma Monnappa of Greenpeace India "Agriculture is a
state subject and most states have failed utterly to evaluate the
frightening scale of this Bt Cotton disaster.

The agricultural department needs to take a firm stand to ensure that the
regulatory regime is strengthened for the protection of the farmer." A
researcher in CSA, Ms Kavitha Kuruganti said, "The Bt cotton industry
would like us to believe that their sales are an indication of farmers'
acceptance of the technology and that it is a science-based industry. We
have a different story to tell.

This compilation of various marketing practices, including stories of
outright lies on the Bollgard posters, misleading advertisements of
farmers with exaggerated claims to lure other farmers, of using a variety
of incentives and even questionable means to attract and entrap farmers
makes us question the claims of the company.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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