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7-Business: Bt cotton seeds in the eye of political storm in India



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

TITLE:  'GM crops up farmers' income'
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashok B. Sharma
        http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=118451
DATE:   23 Feb 2006

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'GM crops up farmers' income'

NEW DELHI, FEB 22:  A study conducted by UK-based PG Economics has
claimed that farmers' income has increased by $124.2 million (Rs 558
crore) on cumulative basis in India with the adoption of insect-
resistant Bt cotton.

The authors of the study, Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot claimed, "The
main impact of using GM insect resistant cotton (Bt cotton) has been
major increases in yield. With respect to cost of production, the
average cost of the technology (about $54/ha) has been greater than the
average insecticide cost savings of $38/ha to $42/ha, resulting in a net
increase in cost of production. However, the yield gains have resulted
in important net gains to levels of profitability of $139/ha, $324/ha
and $171/ha, respectively in 2002, 2003 and 2004. At the national level,
these farm income gains amounted to $6.1 million in 2002, $32.4 million
in 2003 and $85.7 million in 2004 (cumulative total of $124.2 million)."

However, contrary to PG Economics study, there are evidences of farmers
placed in heavy losses on account of growing Bt cotton. A network of
over 20 NGOs and farmers' organisations has documented such case
studies. Some farmers have also claimed compensation for failure of Mech
12, Mech 184 and Mech 162 varieties of Bt cotton. The Genetic
Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had to ban all these three
varieties in Andhra Pradesh with effect from 2005 season. Mech 12 is
banned in entire South India. According to some reports the use of
pesticides, fertilisers and water has also increased.

The PG Economics study called 'GM Crops: The Global Socio-economic and
Environmental Impact & The First Nine Years 1996-2004', has claimed that
after almost a decade of commercialisation, biotech crops have made a
significant impact on the global economy and environment, decreasing the
reliance on pesticides and reducing the environmental footprint
associated with pesticide use by 14%.

The study claimed that biotech crops have helped in reducing greenhouse
gas emissions from farm practices.


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

TITLE:  Bt cotton seeds in the eye of political storm
SOURCE: Business Standard, India, by Shashikant Trivedi
        http://www.business-standard.com/search/storypage_new.php?
leftnm=lmnu6&leftindx=6&lselect=11&autono=215660
DATE:   17 Feb 2006

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Bt cotton seeds in the eye of political storm

At a time when Mahyco Monsanto is in the process of launching the new
version of Bt Cotton (Bacillus thuringiensis), cotton prices have
crashed to Rs 2200-2700 per quintal, against Rs 4,300 to 4,500 per quintal.
 
The issue rocked the State Assembly yesterday when members of opposition
parties, including the Congress, today staged a walkout in the Madhya
Pradesh Assembly, alleging heavy losses suffered by farmers due to the
low yield from Bt cotton. They also accused the ruling BJP of promoting
multi-national companies.
 
Raising the issue through a calling attention motion, Samajwadi Party
leaders Suneelam, Govind Singh, and Arif Aqeel of Congress claimed that
thousands of farmers in Malwa and Nimar region were growing Bt Cotton on
an area of 6.34 lakh hectares, the average yield of cotton had been
reduced from 15 quintals to only 4 quintals.
 
Demanding compensation for the affected farmers, the opposition members
claimed that Bt cotton had proved to be a failure in terms of cost
effectiveness, germination, productivity and quality.
 
Replying to the opposition, agriculture minister Chandrabhan Singh
refuted their allegations and said production had increased by using Bt
cotton seeds. The state government had permitted farmers to grow Bt
cotton after getting necessary formalities and permissions from the Centre.
 
"An enquiry had been initiated in some cases, and the matter has been
probed. Reports will be sent to the Central government," he said.
 
Bt cotton's allergic reactions in Madhya Pradesh, in which farmer-turned
state Governor Balram Jakhar has reportedly ordered a probe, came to
light during the month of November last year.
 
During a public hearing organised by Dhar district's Krishi Upaj Mandi
presented during the hearing, at least 14 animals had died and several
fell reportedly ill. It had also been alleged during the hearing that
use of the seeds had led to a rise in cases of skin diseases.
 
Monsanto India Ltd had claimed that results of Bt cotton in Madhya
Pradesh were encouraging. The national manager of the company, P Rath,
claimed to have come up with an improved version of Bt cotton named as
Bollgard-2.
 
The approval for Bt-2 was in the last stage of trial in November.
Genetically modified Bt Cotton is allegedly causing allergic ailments
among people.
 
According to Monsanto figures released in November, the sales of Bt
cottonseeds had swelled from 2002-03 to 2005-06. Bt cotton crops covered
an area of 1470.40 hectares though 3676 packets, which had increased to
1,34,638.80 hectares, with consumption touching 3,36,597 packets of Bt seeds.
 
More and more firms joined the Bt cotton race Mahyco sold 1,97,390
packets to cover 78,956 hectares, Rasi Seeds sold 1,02,150 packets to
cover 40,860 hectares, Ankur Seeds sold 576 packets to cover 230. 40
hectares and Nuziveedu Seeds sold 36,481 packets to cover 14,592.40
hectares of land in Madhya Pradesh.


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

TITLE:  Consumer Forum orders compensation to cotton farmers 
SOURCE: Zeenews, India
        http://www.zeenews.com/znnew/articles.asp?
aid=273259&archisec=REG&archisubsec=
DATE:   03 Feb 2006

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Consumer Forum orders compensation to cotton farmers    

Guntur (Andhra Pradesh), Feb 03: The Guntur district consumer forum has
directed a multinational company (MNC) to pay compensation of Rs four
lakhs to farmers for supplying sub-standard BT cotton seeds resulting in
poor yield. About 20 farmers from Kommuru and Jggapuram villages in the
district purchased BT cotton seeds from the MNC at an exorbitant price
of Rs 1600 per acre and had carried out sowing operation on 40 acres.
However, the yield was one quintal less than claimed by the company. The
court found that seeds were of sub-standard nature and directed the
company to pay compensation. 

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