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4-Patents: Indian Bt cotton struggle continues



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

TITLE:  Indian Cotton Farmers Betrayed
SOURCE: Institute of Science in Society, UK
        http://www.i-sis.org.uk/IndianCottonFarmersBetrayed.php
DATE:   02 Feb 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Indian Cotton Farmers Betrayed

Rhea Gala travels to Andhra Pradesh to find out why small farmers are
still planting GM Bt cotton when it has failed miserably since its
introduction four years ago

I have been following the increased planting of Bt cotton across India
for the last four years with disbelief. We have heard that the crop has
failed very badly, and yet farmers are still queuing to plant Bt cotton,
the only genetically modified (GM) crop with commercial approval in the
country. In November last year, I finally decided to travel to
Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh, to find out what's really going on.

Having arrived in Bangalore I hired an auto rickshaw and took the first
of many hectic rides through the tumultuous city traffic to meet Divya
Raghunandan of Greenpeace at their head office. She told me how things
had been developing.

Monsanto's three Bt cotton hybrids, Mech-12 Bt, Mech-162 Bt and Mech-184
Bt were banned in May 2005 in Andhra Pradesh (though simultaneously
approved for commercial production in other states!). This was the
result of three years of poor performance and Monsanto refusing to pay
compensation of Rs450m to the farmers ("India's Bt cotton fraud" SiS
26); and finally, the AP Minister of Agriculture Mr Raghuveera Reddy
taking a strong stand after being pressed by civil society
organisations, such as Oxfam and the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture
(CSA), that had been monitoring the crop.

Though seeds for the banned hybrids are still available this year; the
seeds of choice for the farmers have been the legally approved RCH-2 Bt
(Rasi seeds) and Bunny-Bt (Nuziveedu Seeds) with royalties of Rs1250 per
packet going to Monsanto who owns the patent for the Bt gene. A plethora
of cheaper unauthorised and unauthenticated Bt seed of dubious origin
have also been popular; many sold openly in the market place.


Bt cotton has miraculous powers?

Divya Raghunandan of Greenpeace, Kavitha Kuruganti of the CSA, Kiran
Sakkhari of the Permaculture Association of India and others, all
stressed to me at different times, how inappropriate the Bt technology
is for Indian farmers.

More than 85 percent of Indian farmers own less than five acres of land,
63 percent of farms are less than three acres, and many landless people
will lease land to grow a crop. The average farmer is illiterate and
ignorant of the implications of planting a GM crop, but lives in the
hope that money borrowed to produce a cash crop will be more than repaid
after a good harvest. Farmers are also desperate to avoid the spiralling
cost of pesticide, and have been taken in by Bt cotton advertising and
Monsanto's extravagant claims.

Monsanto claims that yield on its Bollgard Bt cotton will be up by 30 to
40 percent on conventional hybrids, and that pesticide use will be 70
percent down because Bollgard kills 90 percent of bollworms. Bollywood
personalities such as Nana Patekar attribute almost miraculous powers to
the product on TV. Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh has personally
endorsed the Bollgard brand. There were posters promoting Bt hybrids
displayed on the walls of all villages I visited. Local opinion leaders
such as larger landowners get seed and pesticide discounted or free, and
'poor farmers' who extol the virtues of Bt cotton locally have turned
out not to be farmers at all.

Family livelihoods depend entirely on good decisions being made; such as
which seeds to plant, and a poor farmer will seek advice or take a lead
from someone who she/he thinks knows best. It seems that many people at
all levels of Indian society, some knowingly, have exhorted marginal
farmers to purchase a product already proven to be unsound and
unsuitable and that had already caused the downfall and death of many.


Bt cotton in the 'Pesticide capital of the world'

Having taken the overnight train to Hyderabad from Bangalore, I
travelled with Kavitha Kuruganti, development consultant, and Ram
Prasad, entomologist, from the CSA to look at Bt cotton in Guntur
District, known as "the pesticide capital of the world". We ascertained
that around 70 percent of cotton grown in the villages was Bt cotton,
including many spurious cotton hybrids sold as Bt.

Kavitha explained that in the absence of government regulation, a
monitoring and evaluation committee comprising civil society
organisations such as the CSA had taken on the responsibility of
recording events and informing the public and government of the social
and environmental tragedy unfolding.

She said that farmers had been influenced by pervasive but utterly
misleading advertising emanating from Monsanto and its licensees, and
endorsed by celebrities, government officials, journalists, agricultural
and corporate scientists, larger landowners and seed dealers who had
either jumped on a media bandwagon or had vested interests in Bt cotton
sales. For example, at the point of sale, when farmers are vulnerable,
seed dealers will hype up the yield of a hypothetical farmer's Bt cotton
because their profit is four times greater per drum than for non Bt seed.

We went to speak to seed dealers who told us that sucking pests were low
on Bt, costs were high on non Bt, due to more pesticide sprayed, and
predicted a higher yield for Bt. They said no problems had been reported
for the Bt crop. When questioned on the poor condition of the Bt crop
they said it was due to excess rain. But what we saw was quite different.

We found Bt cotton looking stunted and wilted with dry red leaves
resulting from damage due to jassids, a sucking pest. These have caused
50 to 60 percent damage to Bt cotton, but much less on non-Bt cotton. We
found a variety of pests including tobacco caterpillar in large numbers
only on the Bt plants, and counted an average of only 15 to 20 bolls per
plant on Bt cotton compared to 40 to 50 bolls on non-Bt cotton.

The popular legal Bt cotton hybrids RCH-2 Bt and Bunny-Bt were worst hit
by jassids and secondary pests like Spodoptera and Sylapta ; and are
expected to give very low yields as well as a new pest crisis due to Bt
technology. We questioned farmers extensively about the performance of
these hybrids, Kavitha acting as translator. They were eager to share
details of costs such as seed, fertiliser and pesticide, and expressed
an apparently stoical acceptance that while their inputs, including
pesticide costs, had been very high, their yield would be very low.

One farmer, Mr T Prasanna Kumar, who had so far harvested only two
quintals of Bunny-Bt (one quintal = 100 kg), had been advertised in the
paper as having harvested 15 quintals! Farmers suggested a number of
different options for the next season; including other Bt hybrids. As
Kavitha pointed out, without a comprehensive and independent review of
the facts, this situation can only get worse.


Black is white for Bt cotton

Mr G Raja Shekar of the CSA and Mr MD Amzad Ali of Sarvodaya Youth
Organisation introduced me to big and small Bt farmers in the Warangal
area. Raja Shekar had found from experience that only five to ten
percent of the authorised Bt cotton delivers a competitive crop, while
90 percent looks very poor and is failing badly. This matched my
observation that a stunted, wilted, thin and pink-tinged crop was
predictably Bt, while a tall healthy, boll heavy and verdant crop almost
invariably turned out to be non-Bt.

So powerful was the belief system manipulated by Monsanto's propaganda
that many farmers we spoke to tended to blame the problem on external
factors, like flooding, disease, or sucking pests; though some observed
that the non-Bt crop had not been similarly afflicted. In some areas,
unfortunately, there were few non-Bt crops to compare.

We spoke to farmer Ravinder Reddy and his brothers, who had a larger
holding that was hosting a Monsanto trial for a new Bt hybrid, with Bt
and non-Bt control hybrids for comparison. The trial crop was in a very
poor state with diseased bolls and dry wilted leaves. The control Bt was
better but not as good as the non-Bt hybrid, which was tall, green,
bollful and lush. The farmer nevertheless praised the trial crop,
explaining that it did not attract insects while the non-Bt healthy
plants did. "The Bt technology is superior," he said, "it is all a
question of management; the village farmers will follow my lead." This
statement, in full view of contradictory evidence, later made more sense
to me when one of the bystanders turned out to be a Monsanto representative.


Bt cotton kills thousands

On the evening of my fifth day out in the cotton fields of AP, Raja
Shekar, Amzad Ali and I visited the widow of a local farmer and her two
young children. The farmer, Mr Rami Reddy, had killed himself early in
November when it became obvious that his Bt crop would fail and he would
be unable to repay his debts. Many hundreds in AP and thousands around
India have come to similar grief, as the economics of Bt cotton simply
do not add up.

A landless farmer will start the growing season in debt, having borrowed
Rs 6 000 per acre to rent the land and Rs1 700-1 900 per acre for
approved Bt seed, totalling around Rs18 000 per acre by the end of the
season, after adding pesticide and fertiliser cost. The market rate for
cotton ranges from Rs1 200 to 1 700 per quintal; therefore a yield of
10.5 quintals per acre sold at the best price is needed just to break
even, and before including interest on the loan of between 36 and 48
percent to local loan sharks.

Seventy percent of Indian farmers are marginal and simply cannot afford
expensive Bt management practises that require high pesticide and
fertiliser inputs. This year, Bt cotton yields are again the lowest
compared to non-Bt cotton varieties. Non pesticide management and
organic cotton are performing best this year, probably because they are
less prone to pests and bred to be reliable in conditions of stress
("Return to organic cotton & avoid the Bt-cotton trap", this series).


Science finds against Bt cotton

Agricultural scientists Dr Abdul Qayum and Kiran Sakkhari conducted the
first independent study on Bt cotton and released their report Bt cotton
in Andhra Pradesh: A three year assessment in 2005. The study involved a
season-long investigation in 87 villages of the major cotton growing
districts - Warangal, Nalgonda, Adilabad and Kurnool. It found against
Bt cotton on all counts and was vital in getting the hybrids involved
banned in AP:

It failed miserably for small farmers in terms of yield; non-Bt cotton
surpassed Bt by nearly 30 percent and at 10 percent less expense

It did not significantly reduce pesticide use; over the three years, Bt
farmers used Rs2 571 worth of pesticide on average while the non-Bt
farmers used Rs2 766 worth of pesticide

It did not bring profit to farmers; over the three years, the non-Bt
farmer earned on average 60 percent more than the Bt farmer

It did not reduce the cost of cultivation; on average, the Bt farmer had
to pay 12 percent more than the non-Bt farmer

It did not result in a healthier environment; researchers found a
special kind of root rot spread by Bollgard cotton infecting the soil,
so that other crops would not grow.

Co-author of the study, Kiran Sakkhari, told me that farmers buy the Bt
cotton because of the extreme hype. "Farmers have been cheated before by
being sold dud pesticide that looked like the real thing, and now they
are trying to avoid pesticide altogether by using Bt. But the Bt gene is
only partially effective against bollworm and ineffective against the
dozens of other pests that routinely attack cotton, so pesticide use
will continue to increase with Bt cotton. For example, the tobacco
caterpillar ( Spodoptera litura) , which has caused havoc on the Bt
cotton this year; though not on the non-Bt cotton, has done as much
damage as any primary cotton pest."

He also reiterated that Bt plants are intolerant of biotic and abiotic
stress. "Wilt, a physiological disorder prevalent this year, is found
only on the Bt crop, and tobacco streak virus, spread by the sucking
pest, thrips, is a big problem; and while the non Bt cotton recovered
well from excessive rain this season, the Bt crop is a shambles." He
thinks that the Bt cotton may give a good yield in laboratory
conditions; but that cannot be extrapolated to larger areas. He admits
this is a most generous assessment of the situation; and that many
people, including himself, think that there is something basically wrong
with the parent lines or the Bt technology per se .


And the Indian Government knew all along

In spite of all the evidence of its failure, the Indian Government has
given Monsanto's Bt cotton the nod all around the country. A report from
the Government's Central Institute for Cotton Research, Nagpur, showed
that the government itself had been sitting on a study describing the
faulty technology since 2003, while farmers had been going under.

The Bt cotton is genetically engineered to produce the Cry1Ac toxin that
kills the main cotton pests in the US, the tobacco budworm ( Heliothis
virescens ) and the pink bollworm ( Pectinophora gossypiella ), but is
not particularly toxic to the Indian pests, cotton bollworms
( Helicoverpa zea and Helicoverpa armigera ) .

Government scientist and main author of the study, Keshav Kranthi,
showed that the toxin is not always strong enough to kill pests; and is
extremely variable across hybrids and between plant parts. The cotton
boll, where the pest does most damage, is especially lacking in toxin
strength, and the toxin also loses strength later in the growing season.
Bt cotton showed up to 67-fold variability in toxin strength; being
extremely unpredictable and unreliable, as testified by farmers
countrywide for the past four years.

Nevertheless, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently stated: "I
am very happy to say that US President George Bush and I have decided to
launch a second generation of India-US collaboration in agriculture."

Scientists from the CSA fear that Monsanto's Bollgard II stacked Bt
hybrid, with two Bt genes, currently undergoing field trials, and said
to be "ten times better" than Bollgard I, will be offered as a
"solution" to the current Bt problem, even though the National
Government has now formally admitted that Bt cotton has failed in a
number of states, including AP.


Bt crops break all biosafety rules

Kavitha Kuruganti pointed out many violations of biosafety regulations
at all the test sites that we visited, as well as among the commercial
plantations. Nobody is addressing the problem of gene transfer to
conventional plants; and a general disregard of separation distances
between the Bt and non-Bt crop makes contamination a fait acompli .
Similarly, there is a general lack of enforcement of 20 percent non-Bt
refugia, designed to slow the evolution of pest resistance. The several
generations of bollworm that live annually on a crop can lead to 60
percent resistance in a single year.

With no regulation of GM cotton, GM produce is entering the food and
feed chain as cottonseed oil and cake. This problem will continue to
grow as fourteen new GM varieties of India's staple crops have been
approved for field trials that began in 2005. Since my return to the UK,
a Bt okra (ladies' finger) from a Mahyco (Monsanto's Indian partner)
field trial was recently harvested in Guntur and sold in the local
market, instead of being burned as required by law. This only came to
light due to the monitoring by the civil society groups. The farmer
involved did not know that the crop was transgenic and his family were
eating the vegetable. The plants were seen to be in very poor state with
many pests; and the person hired by Mahyco to care for and monitor the
crop had no agricultural background. He was selling the crop to make
extra cash. Mahyco had not informed the state government of the trial,
and has since abandoned the standing crop.


Return to organic agriculture is the real solution

The Green Revolution cotton monoculture in AP has eradicated the
traditional local crop varieties, depleted natural resources and created
serious pest communities that require spiralling amounts of pesticide;
many carcinogenic and banned in the west. This pre-existing pesticide
problem, and the hype of Bt cotton advertising, seem to be the main
reasons why farmers have turned to Bt cotton.

But Bt cotton has proven to be a failure. Bt technology is set to
exacerbate the pesticide problem (see also "Scientists confirm failures
of Bt-crops", SiS 28), impacting further on biodiversity while
continuing to cause suffering and suicide. Bt food crops, if and when
they get approved for commercial production, will be a catastrophe for
Indian agriculture and the nation as a whole.

The government needs only to promote organic production for all crops to
stop this nightmare, instead of putting vested interests above the needs
of the people. This betrayal over GM crops, like pesticides, poisons
everything in its path, especially the farmers that feed the nation.

A return to sustainable organic methods is especially suitable for small
farmers, and puts the skill and creativity of the farmers back at the
centre of agriculture, where they can really regain control of their
destiny. ("Return to organic cotton & avoid the Bt-cotton trap", and
"Poor women farmers and the crops of truth" this series).


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

TITLE:  Failure of 'improved' technology
        The harvest that never was
SOURCE: Deccan Herald, India, by Devinder Sharma
        http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/jan282006/
editpage1913372006127.as
DATE:   28 Jan 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Failure of 'improved' technology
The harvest that never was

Farmers should be compensated for the failure of technology just like
any other consumer in a city

One of the main reasons behind the growing agrarian crisis is the
failure of "improved" technology. Instead of bringing a cheer to the
farmer by propping up the declining farm productivity or improving
efficiency, recurring failure of the new technologies is not only making
agriculture unviable but is also increasingly forcing farmers into
indebtedness and distress.

Whether it is hybrids or the high-yielding varieties of crops; whether
it is cross-breeding of cattle or more recently, the introduction of the
genetically modified seeds, the fact remains that those who provide the
technology are not held responsible if the technology they sell to
farmers fails to deliver. Nor are they held accountable if the
technology turns into a polluter.

For urban centres, the marketing approach is different. If you buy a
car, refrigerator or a hi-fi system, the manufacturer not only provides
a guarantee but often orders the withdrawal of a particular batch of
faulty product line. During the guarantee period, the defective part of
the product is replaced free of cost and if the complaint persists, the
malfunctioning item is replaced. In other words, it is the duty of the
technology provider or manufacturer to ensure that the technology being
sold adds up to the claims made.

Speaking in Parliament, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar accepted that
genetically modified BT cotton had failed in Andhra Pradesh and
Rajasthan. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) therefore
had not renewed permission for the cultivation of the three Mahyco-
Monsanto BT cotton varieties. But despite the Andhra Pradesh government
demanding a compensation of Rs 1,496 per acre to the affected farmers,
which totals Rs 3.84 crore, the seed company found it appropriate to
appeal before the State-level Memorandum of Understanding Committee and
the High Court.

BT cotton was cultivated in an area exceeding 13 lakh acres in the
2004-05 cropping season. This means that the seed companies had sold an
equal number of BT seed packets (each packet is enough for an acre)
priced at a minimum of Rs 1,600, including a hefty ''technology fee''.
With Rs 1,200 per seed packet as "technology fee", the seed companies
had very conveniently collected over Rs 150 crore in the name of
improved technology. In the urban centres, such a large failure of any
technology would have forced the company to withdraw its product from
the market. Not in the rural areas and for obvious reasons.


Reports from other states

Reports of BT cotton failure continues to pour in from other states too.
Up to 75 per cent of the BT cotton seeds in 35 per cent of the area sown
in parts of Salem and Namakkal districts of Tamil Nadu is reported to
have failed to germinate this season. In western Madhya Pradesh, BT
cotton crops in over two lakh acre area in Nirmar region suffered
partial or complete wilting. But again, the seed companies are not even
remotely concerned.

The seed business is certainly lucrative and tension-free. Aided and
abetted by a supportive Ministry of Agriculture, the thrust of the seed
trade appears to be on how to draw out money from the village
hinterland. As the village economy dips, farmers' indebtedness grows.
Unable to bear the economic downslide, thousands of them have taken the
fatal route. Even those growing BT cotton are now resorting to suicide.
Six farmers in Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh have committed
suicide this year. The suicide tally from Vidharba region in Maharashtra
is higher.

Chemical fertilisers were considered essential for increasing crop
productivity. Over the 40 years of the Green Revolution, chemical
fertilisers not only acted as a shot-in-the-arm for enhancing
productivity but also resulted in second-generation environmental
effects by rendering the cultivated lands sick and infertile. While the
signs of an environmental collapse were visible, fertiliser companies
continued to pump in more fertiliser as the solution to deteriorating
soil fertility. Added to it is the growing public health crisis from the
leaching and accumulation of nitrates in the groundwater.

Studies show that farmers are using on an average twice the quantity of
chemical fertilisers to produce the same crop yield that was harvested
10 years ago. This means that while the input prices have multiplied,
the output prices are not keeping pace thereby adding to farm
indebtedness. The technology provider, fertiliser companies in this
case, were never asked to maintain an adequate soil nutrition balance in
a manner that the chemical input use does not increase manifold.

The rural technology provider -- manufacturer of improved and new
technologies -- has therefore added to farmers' woes. This is clearly
evident from the prevailing dichotomy in the delivery of technology in
the rural and urban areas. Unless the technology provider is made
accountable, is made liable to ensure that the technology works at the
farmer's level, and thereby ensure the after sales performance of the
technology delivered, the rural crisis will show no signs of ebbing.
Failure of technology weaves in an indebtedness cycle that eventually
turns into a vicious circle.


                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Gujarat to take up Bt cotton seed prices with Monsanto
SOURCE: Economic Times, India
        http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1389994.cms
DATE:   28 Jan 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Gujarat to take up Bt cotton seed prices with Monsanto

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government, after taking a cue from the Andhra
Pradesh government, is set to lock horns with Monsanto, the US-based
agriculture products major for alledgedly selling cotton seeds to
farmers in Gujarat at a higher-than-normal premium.

The state, which is one of the biggest cotton producing state in the
country, is seeking legal advise on the matter. The MNC, on the other
hand, has raised issues such as unauthorised distribution of seeds in
the state and infringement upon their intellectual property rights.

The state agriculture department will hold a meeting next week to
discuss the price issue on Bt cotton seeds. "We have called a meeting
next week to discuss the issue of high price being charged by Monsanto
in the Indian market.

I completely agree with the questions raised by the Andhra government on
the high royalty of around Rs 1,200 which is being charged by the
company here. The seeds are sold at abnormally high price -- nearly Rs
1,600," Gujarat agriculture minister, Bhupendra Chudasama said. The
minister told ET, "the state government is planning a scientific study
done on Bt cotton in Gujarat to get to the depth of the matter.

Monsanto's chief executive officer Hugh Grant is at present on a visit
to India with a core team of the company. But while officials in the
state said they were keen to set up meetings with Mr Grant during this
visit, company executives termed the visit as nothing having to do with
the pricing controversy.

"The petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government is not on the
agenda of the discussion. The visit of the team is to understand the
country and its agriculture system," said Ranjana Smetacek, director,
Corporate Affairs at Monsanto India.

Monsanto, also feels that their pricing is just and fair. "Our products
give value to the farmers and they seize to spend the money spent on
pesticides. We would not like to comment on the market speculation on
higher royalty charged by us in India when compared to the US. We would
follow the orders issued by the board on the matter," she said. Industry
sources claim that the company charges only Rs 100 as royalty in the US.

"Unfortunately, over the last four years, the illegal distribution of
cotton seeds incorporating Bt technology in India has also steadily
increased. On average, in '04 and '05, the estimated sales of Bt cotton
which has been illegally obtained and marketed has reportedly been
equivalent or even eclipsed the sales of approved bollgard cotton.

We have been delivering the following message to the Indian government
and other interested stakeholders in an attempt to demonstrate that the
problem is one that affects India generally and not just Monsanto. Due
to this public and private sector developers of biotechnology products
for India may lose confidence in the market, and delay or even decline
to introduce new products," the company said in a statement.

So far, the Gujarat government is following the Andhra government's
decision on this issue. But if required, it may also file a suit against
Monsanto very soon. Monsanto, claims that the research conducted by them
on around 3,000 farmers in six states revealed that it reduced the
insecticides by 60%. The farmers also earned additional revenue of Rs
5,000 per acre.

"The Monsanto Bt cotton seeds are priced at Rs 1,600 which is four times
higher than the unofficially sold. Most of the farmers prefer Navbharat,
the low-priced seeds as they give the same quality and are also
cheaper," says a cotton trader. Around 70-80% farmers in Gujarat are
said to be using Navbharat.

Despite the claim of better yield by Monsanto, the farmers mostly using
Navbharat produced nearly 73.4 bales in '04-'05, more than four times
higher than the production in '02-03 that was around 17 lakh bales.


                                 PART IV
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Expert meet to review Bt cotton field trials tomorrow
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B. Sharma
        http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=114211
DATE:   11 Jan 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Expert meet to review Bt cotton field trials tomorrow

NEW DELHI, JAN 11: The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (Geac) for
transgenic crops and products which was scheduled to meet on Wednesday
has deferred it to January 13.

According to sources, the agenda for discussion will include a review of
field trials of several varieties of Bt cotton and other genetically
modified (GM) crops.

The meeting is crucial as a network 20 local and national NGOs and
farmers' groups have protested against conducting of a field trial
called 'under secrecy'. The Andhra Pradesh government has written to the
Centre for an explanation for not informing it about the Bt Okra field
trials in village Narokoduru in Guntur district.

The Secunderabad based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) was
first to detect the Bt Okra field trials by Mahyco in village Narokoduru
and bring it to the notice of the government. The local farmers later
uprooted the crop.

"Even the farmers on whose fields GM crops are being trial tested are
not informed. The farmers are given seeds free of cost and asked to
cultivate and sell his produce later," said Nilesh Desai, a farmer from
Madhya Pradesh where some varieties of Bt cotton are under field trials.
Mr Desai is in Delhi alongwith his other two farmer colleagues,
Brijbhushan Singh Rathore and Ranchod Lal Anjana who echoed the same view.

The network of 20 NGOs and farmer groups have formed a body which they
call monitoring and evaluation committee (MEC). When asked as to why
they call themselves as such when there is already a monitoring and
evaluation committee under Geac's supervision, Ms Divya Raghunandan of
Greenpeace India said, "As the government's MEC has failed to do their
work and keep everthing under secrecy, we tookup this onus in public
interest." This NGO team is camping in Delhi and is waiting the results
of GEAC deliberations on January 13.

Kavitha Kuruganti of CSA alleged that the team has brought to the notice
violations of biosafety norms in field trials, pollen contamination of
non-GM fields. The trials have caused health and environental hazards.
She also said the double stacked genes Cry 1 Ac and Cry 2 Ab called
Bollgard II Bt cotton are under field trials at several places.


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