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BUSINESS & SEEDS: ASSOCHAM report on Bt cotton incredulous




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  ASSOCHAM REPORT ON BT COTTON INCREDULOUS

SOURCE: The Siasat Daily, India

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.siasat.com/english/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=197104&Itemid=79&cattitle=Hyderabad

DATE:   31.07.2007

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ASSOCHAM REPORT ON BT COTTON INCREDULOUS

Hyderabad, July 31: AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity (APCDD), representing civil society groups against genetically modified crops, has challenged the recent Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)’s survey report on Bt cotton farming and termed it ”incredulous.”

At a press conference here on Monday, P.V. Satheesh, convenor of the APCDD, said the survey was part of a huge campaign launched by the genetic engineering industry to bamboozle public opinion. The seed major, Monsanto has produced 29 short films to counter the APCDD’s film, ”A disaster in search of success: Bt cotton in global south”, he added.

 

Wrong priorities

”For Monsanto and the ASSOCHAM, foreign direct investment is far more important than the lives of the farmers lost in the pursuit of Bt cotton that left a trail of Bt-infected toxicity in the soils and plants leading to livestock morbidity.”

Releasing the findings of the APCDD’s own survey, he said the Bt cotton farmers earned just nine per cent more, a paltry difference of Rs. 380 per acre between Bt and non-Bt and not ”additional income of Rs. 7039 crore as claimed by ASSOCHAM.” Similarly cultivating Bt cotton was more expensive as farmers have to spend more on pest control than others.

 

New diseases

The raising of Bt cotton has brought to the fore diseases like ”root rot”, not seen by cotton farmers before, he said. ?The survey also found that genetically engineered seed industry was deliberately closing all non-Bt options to farmers, forcing them to go in for Bt cotton.

The APCDD wanted the Government to promulgate a law to ensure production and distribution of non-Bt seed up to 50 per cent of their trade volume and to ask National Institute of Nutrition to investigate death of cattle after grazing in areas where Bt cotton was grown.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  APCIDD ASKS GOVT TO BAN BT COTTON SEED SALE

SOURCE: newKerala.com, India

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.newkerala.com/july.php?action=fullnews&id=50370

DATE:   30.07.2007

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APCIDD ASKS GOVT TO BAN BT COTTON SEED SALE

Hyderabad, July 30 : Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity (APCIDD) Convenor P V Satheesh today asked the Andhra Pradesh Government to ban the sale of Bt Cotton seeds and promulgate an ordinance to ensure all cotton seed companies produced and distribute non-Bt seeds comprising at least 50 per cent of their total trade volume. Addressing the press here, Mr Reddy said recent research revealed that more than 40 per cent of the area under Bt Cotton was infested with root rot disease. It would spread to all the cultivable area if the disease was not controlled, he contended. Pointing out the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) was not conducting any investigation on the toxicity impact of Bt Cotton leaves and stalks on animals which graze in the area, he said the government must also take steps to promote millet farming in the areas where Bt cotton was being grown.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  FARMYARD TRUTHS AND INDUSTRY LIES

SOURCE: GMWatch, UK

AUTHOR: Press Release, by AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity, India

URL:    http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8153

DATE:   30.07.2007

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FARMYARD TRUTHS AND INDUSTRY LIES

Spin doctors are bent upon distorting the Bt cotton facts

The Genetic Engineering industry has started a huge campaign on the so called success of Bt cotton to bamboozle public opinion in the country. In the wake of a series of setbacks suffered as a consequence of a spate of refusals by the apex regulatory body Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of the Government of India, the biotech industry had to go for an overdrive for its survival. And it has predictably done so.

Against this backdrop, it is essential for us to consider the realities on the ground both in Andhra Pradesh, which is closest to us, as well as the reality in the Global South where Bt cotton has tasted a string of reversals: It has been kicked out of many countries; it has been prevented from entering into others; has been losing in popularity in some others and is making an illegal business in some others.

The film A Disaster in Search of Success: Bt Cotton in Global South, an incredible production by a group of peasant women from the Community Media Trust of Medak District, Andhra Pradesh, presents these realities from South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Mali in West Africa and of course from India.

This truth has hit Monsanto so badly between the eyes that it has produced 29 short films of its own and has hosted them on its website to counter these realities. While Monsanto can have testimonies from manipulated farmers and paid scientists, the AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity and the Deccan Development Society will soon come out with its own web videos representing the experiences of farmer-victims of Genetic Engineering from different parts of the world and from independent, free thinking, respected scientists who have refused the corporate traps and have been cautioning the humanity about the negative impacts of GMOs.

Within AP itself, evidences are glaringly different from the fools’ paradise that Mahyco-Monsanto is creating with its cohorts from the Assocham and Chamber of Commerce and Industries, for whom the foreign direct investment is far more important than the lives of farmers lost in the pursuit of Bt cotton or the Bt-infected toxicity in our soils and plants because of which thousands of animals have died over the last two years.

Many NGOs including the Deccan Development Society and the APCID have presented irrefutable evidence of animal deaths as a result of feeding on Bt Cotton plants This prompted the Government of Andhra Pradesh to start its own investigations. As a result, the Director of Animal Husbandry, Government of Andhra Pradesh wrote a letter to the Chairman, GEAC to arrange for Biosafety studies on the impact of Bt cotton on sheep and goats. But the GEAC has done nothing of the sort.

This leads us to the question of direct or indirect complicity of responsible government institutions who refuse to get out of the trap laid for them by the industry. The AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity, in spite of repeated appeals to National Institute of Nutrition, the apex body of the Government of India on the issues of nutrition and food toxicity has not succeeded in persuading the institute to start the toxicity study of Bt plants on animals. This is in spite of our offer to meet the costs of the study. So is the case with GEAC, which refuses to pro actively study the Biosafety aspects of GM crops and save the citizens and soils of this country from the toxic crops. The only option left to us is to use the RTI Act and force these institutions to take up their constitutional responsibility.

While the public sector institutions are cocooned in their reluctance to explore the truth, the industry spin doctors have started crying from the housetops about the phenomenal success of Bt cotton in India ”because of which cotton farmers of India earned an additional income of Rs.7,039 crores after an increase of 50% in yield”.[Press Release from ASSOCHAM, July 11, 2007] That such an incredulous lie goes unchallenged by the public sector is extremely tragic.

On July 27th, ASSOCHAM which claims to have done a survey on Bt Cotton farmers came up with a series of embarrassingly false claims. Look at some of them below:

Those who had grown Bt cotton earned higher incomes and their household income and family conditions had improved substantially. Increased maternal care services like anti-natal checkups, access to services by trained paramedical and nursing personnel, larger school enrolment and other such improvements in quality of life were found among the Bt cotton growers as compared to those growing non-Bt cotton.

Children in the Bt cotton growers’ families had been vaccinated for polio and received complete immunisation. Villages where Bt cotton was being grown had benefited due to increased access to services such as telephone systems, electricity, drinking water, better internet connectivity, banking, and markets and shopping. [from a report in The Hindu, July 27, 2007]

Short of saying that people were breathing air in and out because they grew Bt Cotton, the ASSOCHAM publicists gave credit to Bt cotton for everything else.

Then what is the reality from the field? Let us bring a few for your consideration:

 

Truth No.1: Bt COTTON FARMERS EARNED JUST 9% MORE

In AP, across various hybrids and varieties, the Bt cotton growers earned in 2006-7 just about 9% more than non Bt farmers who followed Non Pesticide Management practices [NPM].

The non Bt farmers did not have access to good non Bt hybrids such as Tulsi, Raasi and Banni since all of them had converted into Bt. Those who were able to access a good hybrid such as Banni in its non Bt version, had yieds upto 590 kgs per acre while Bt Banni farmers had a yield of only 615 kgs per acre. A slight difference of 25 kgs per acre.

However the farmers using non Bt seeds of Banni had earned Rs.100 more per acre than Bt Banni farmers thus nailing the lies of Bt spin doctors.

However, across all range of hybrids and varieties the income of Bt farmers was around Rs.4408 per acre while the NPM farmers earned Rs.4026 per acre. This is in spite of the fact that the NPM farmers had unnecessarily spent 23% more on fertilizers than Bt farmers and had to make do with inferior variety of seeds since non Bt seeds have disappeared from the market! If they had access to good non Bt seeds as before and if they had not spent so much on fertilisers they would have reaped a greater income than Bt farmers.

This paltry difference of Rs.380 between Bt and Non Bt farmers is the basis for the laughable ASSOCHAM hype and its series of embarrassing lies. How vulgar can publicity get?

 

Truth No.2: CULTIVATING Bt COTTON WAS MORE EXPENSIVE

In spite of the fact that NPM farmers spent more on fertilizers than Bt farmers, their total Cost of Cultivation was still 11% less than the cost borne by Bt farmers. Since we trace all the agrarian crisis to higher cost of cultivation, see how Bt cotton is contributing to this crisis.

 

Truth No.3: Bt FARMERS SPENT MORE ON PEST CONTROL THAN NPM FARMERS

Biotech industry constantly boasts that Bt Cotton Reduces Pest Management Costs SIGNIFICANTLY. But in reality, in 2006-2007, NPM farmers SPENT 41% LESS ON PEST MANAGEMENT THAN Bt FARMERS. While Bt farmers spent Rs.1051 per acre, the NPM farmers needed to spend just about Rs.625 per acre to save their crops from pests. Thus the very raison detre for the existence of Bt Cotton has been proved false.

 

Truth No.4: NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN DISEASES TRAIL BT COTTON

Bt Cotton has brought never-before-seen diseases for cotton farmers. ROOT ROT, a disease which cotton farmers of AP had never seen before in their life, is slowly spreading like a silent fire. In 2002-03 the year when Bt cotton was introduced and harvested for the first time in AP, this disease made its maiden appearance and was reported in just 2-3% of the cultivated area. Year after year it has been spreading and this year, it has reached an alarming proportion of 40% of area. See the following graph for the rising incidence of wilt in cotton from the time Bt cotton arrived on the scene in 2002-03.

Some serious outbreaks of this disease occurred in Nalgonda district. The desperate farmers were forced to uproot their own crops in more than 500 acres.

In fact, even the Government was aware of this problem. Addressing a press conference in Hyderabad in the second week of April, 2007, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Government of AP had said that ”the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops, engineered for a specific trait, was also resulting in new pest problems. This called for a regular monitoring and surveillance system to know the status of pests, which was a pre-requisite for effective implementation of integrated pest management.

”To counter this, the department had cautioned the GM companies to indicate the problems on the labels of their products while they were also cautioned against spurious seed”.

But till today, no Bt Seed manufacturer has indicated such problems on their seed packets. This is a flagrant violation of the law of the land

 

Truth No.5 : SEED INDUSTRY DELIBERATELY CLOSES ALL NON-BT OPTIONS FOR FARMERS

After experiencing all the above effects of Bt cotton, thousands of cotton farmers who are scared of sowing Bt cotton. But they are deprived of all other options in AP. All the good cotton hybrids have miraculously been made to disappear through a sleight of hand by the seed industry.

Thus, Bt cotton which came to AP with a slogan that ”WE ARE OFFERING MORE OPTIONS” has, in reality ”CLOSED ALL OPTIONS” for farmers. In other words, they are telling farmers: You grow Bt or else there is no seed for you.

THIS IS THE MOST DANGEROUS IMPLICATION OF Bt COTTON FOR US. Several years ago, we had read in Toronto Star of Canada a statement from a senior Monsanto executive which said: ”We will flood the market with our products. You will have no option but to surrender”. Now we are seeing this being played out in AP.

In her April press conference, the Commissioner-Agriculture had also said that ”The department had also cautioned farmers against opting for Bt cotton crops in rain-fed areas”. Since the farmers have been shut out of all other options by the manipulative, profit-hungry seed industry, what should the government do?

 

OUR DEMANDS

Therefore we demand:

1. Government immediately promulgate a law that all cotton seed companies produce and distribute non Bt seeds constituting at least 50% of their total trade volumes

2. NIN must be ordered by the Government of India to start a thorough investigation of the toxicity impact of Bt cotton leaves and stalks on animals who graze them.

3. The Government of AP must be pro active in demanding that GEAC take their findings seriously and ban Bt Cotton from Andhra Pradesh. Otherwise the State Government should be allowed to use its own discretion to ban these crops from its soils.

4. Consistently we have seen that cotton farmers in general and Bt farmers in particular have not earned more than Rs.5000 per acre on an average over the last five years. In comparison, the millet farmers of Southern Medak have shown that they can earn around Rs.7500 acre on good soils under totally unirrigated conditions. Therefore government must pro actively encourage farmers to grow the low external input millet crops on rainfed farms by providing good markets for millet crops and making it attractive for farmers to grow.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:  TWO STUDIES SHOW BENEFITS OF BT COTTON IN INDIA

SOURCE: Monsanto, USA

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://monsanto.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=508

DATE:   11.07.2007

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TWO STUDIES SHOW BENEFITS OF BT COTTON IN INDIA

Households have more income and cost savings, and higher access to maternal care services, child education and immunization

News Release from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM):

MUMBAI, India (July 11) -- With adoption of BT cotton technology, farmers engaged in cotton cultivation earned additional income of Rs. 7039 crores in 2006; saved Rs.1600 on pesticides use in their one hectare of farm land compared to farmers growing conventional cotton hybrids; and had higher access to social services important for family health and welfare, according to two studies on ”BT Cotton Farming in India” released today by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

”The Socio-Economic Appraisal of BT Cotton Cultivation in India” was undertaken byIndicus Analytics,an economics research group in New Delhi that has been providing research inputs to Central and State ministries, World Bank, UNICEF, USAID, and many other national and international organizations.The study on ”Economic Benefits of BT Cotton Cultivation in India”wasconducted by IMRB International.

The Indicus Analytics study covered more than 9000 farmers across 467 villages and 28 districts of the eight cotton growing states. It focused on the social benefits realized by farm families as a result of higher incomes resulting from BT cotton cultivation.

The IMRB International study on economic benefits covered nearly 6000 farmers from 111 Taluks of 37 districts, including 4188 BT and BT II cotton farmers and 1793 other conventional cotton farmers in nine cotton growing states.

Anil K. Agarwal, ASSOCHAM Immediate Past President, said that both the studies have established the tremendous socio-economic benefits that have accrued to the cotton farmers as a result of the introduction of this technology.

Some of the major findings of the Indicus study include increased maternal care services, higher levels of immunizations and larger school enrollment for the children of BT farmers as compared to non-BT farmers.

”This study proves that the average Indian cotton farmer who has adopted BT cotton is leading a much better lifestyle over his non-BT counterpart,” said Dr. Laveesh Bhandari, Director of Indicus Analystics. ”The impact of BT farming was found to be positive on the women and children in the BT households. The increased use of BT cotton cultivation has also had a positive impact on the farming community.”

Women from BT households had a higher access to maternal care services and children from BT households were found to have a higher level of immunization as compared to children from non-BT households. Children belonging to BT farming households showed significantly higher school enrollment compared to their non-BT counterparts in 5 out of 8 states surveyed.

BT cotton growing villages benefited greatly with an increased access to services such as telephone systems, electricity, drinking water, better internet connectivity, banking services, and better access to markets with a corresponding increase in shops and goods.

The Indicus study found that non-BT cotton farming households tend to be worse off across a range of socio-economic indicators. It was also observed that those who have taken up BT recently are not as well off socio-economically as those who took it up two or more years earlier. These results strongly links BT cotton farming to overall socio-economic progress, not merely linked to increase in income.

”The study indicates a strong relationship between the decision to adopt new technology, including new seeds, changing attitudes within a household and many opportunities for development that come with adopting BT cotton,” said Dr. Bhandari.

The IMRB study also reports that pesticides consumption by BT farmers in their one hectare of farm land is estimated at Rs.1300 compared to Rs.2900 per hectare by farmers growing conventional hybrids in nine cotton growing states of Andhra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Incremental benefits of BT over conventional cotton in 2006 include that net revenue per acre being Rs.7757 higher. Percentage of gross revenue benefit was up by 162 percent.

”It is also clearly evident that a BT farmer has higher level of income when compared to non-BT farmers,” said Nikhil Rawal, Senior Vice President & Executive Director, IMRB International. ”Increased earnings are also seen in the reduced amount of pesticide sprays required, amounting to 4.6 sprays less over conventional hybrid seeds resulting in an average savings of Rs. 934 per acre for BT. farmers.”

Farmers who planted BT cotton in 2006 earned an additional Rs. 7039 crores in income, based on 8.77 million acreage penetration achieved during this crop season. This increase in acreage and number of farmers adopting BT is a testament to the continuing success and acceptance of the technology in India, Rawal said. The survey also indicates that there has been approximately 50 percent higher yield increase in BT fields in 2006, when compared with conventional cotton fields

 

SOCIO-ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF BT COTTON FARMING IN INDIA

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

- In terms of economic infrastructure and economic activity, BT villages are clearly ahead when compared with NonBT areas in terms of presence of permanent markets (44 percent in BT villages vs. 35 percent in non-BT villages), greater penetration of shops (24 percent vs. 18 percent), banking (34 percent vs. 28 percent), and other areas.

- BT farming households are found to be faring well on the socio-economic front across a broad range of parameters. Similarly, it is found that non-BT cotton farming households tend to be worse off across a range of socio-economic indictors.

- A farmer who predominately grew BT cotton, compared to cotton farmer not growing BT cotton, was more likely to adopt better farming practices. Such practices include cropping rotation, etc

- The impacts of BT farming on members of a BT household were found to have been positive in many areas, especially for women and children.

- The women belonging to BT households availed of maternal services like antenatal checkups in larger percentages than the corresponding women from non-BT households. The same was true for the case trained assistance at birth when the birth took place at the husband’s home (the most common location of deliveries)

- Clear progress was visible on the immunization front among the BT predominant households. The children from BT predominant households (67 percent) were found to have higher levels of immunization compared to children belonging to non-BT households (62 percent).

- As regards education, children belonging to BT farming households show significantly higher enrollment compared to their non-BT counterparts in 5 out of 8 states surveyed.

 

ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF BT COTTON FARMING IN INDIA

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

- Farmers who planted BT cotton in 2006 earned an additional Rs. 7039 crores in income, based on 8.77 million acreage penetration achieved during this crop season. This increase in acreage and number of farmers adopting BT is a testament to the continuing success and acceptance of the technology in India.

- The survey confirms that there has been approximately 50 percent higher yield increase in BT fields in 2006, when compared with conventional cotton fields

- The number of sprays was about five sprays less per acre for bollworms in BT plants.

- The net profit to farmers from BT cultivation increased significantly to 162 percent / Rs.7757 per acre. The reduction in bollworm pesticide sprays translated into an average savings of Rs.934 per acre for BT farmers. This transforms into a benefit of Rs. 11.60/- for every Rs. 1/- spent for cultivating BT and Rs. 10.80/- for cultivating BT II cotton.

- The perception of an average farmer on the future of BT farming in the country seemed to be positive. At an average 93 percent of the BT users were satisfied with BT performance.

Farmers who have been growing BT for the past few years also agreed to BT cotton cultivation having impacted their farming incomes positively


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