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PLANTS: Genetically modified crops add new layer to Indian farming



                                  PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Genetically modified crops add new layer to Indian farming
SOURCE: Record, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
AUTHOR: Neil Schoenherr
URL:    http://record.wustl.edu/news/page/normal/8815.html
DATE:   26.02.2007
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...........................................................................
Stone argues that the previously undocumented pattern of fads, in which
each village moves from seed to seed, reflects a breakdown in
"environmental learning," leaving farmers to rely on "social learning."
Stone refers to this situation as "de-skilling." [...] "The bottom line
is that the spread of Bt cotton doesn't so much reflect that it works
for the farmers or that the farmers have tested it and found it to be a
good technology," Stone said. "The spread more reflects the complete
breakdown in the cotton cultivation system."
...........................................................................


Genetically modified crops add new layer to Indian farming

The arrival of genetically modified crops has added another level of
complexity to farming in the developing world.

Glenn D. Stone, Ph.D., professor of anthropology and of environmental
studies, both in Arts & Sciences, has completed the first detailed
anthropological fieldwork on these crops and the way they impact -- and
are impacted by -- local culture.

The study, published in the February issue of Current Anthropology,
focuses on cotton production in the Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh,
India, one of the nation's key cotton-growing areas. There, Stone found
several factors affecting farmers' ability to adjust to new developments
by practical methods. Among them are the speed of change, the
overwhelming number of choices in the seed market and the desire for
novelty -- all of which lead to lack of proper seed testing by farmers.

"There is a rapidity of change that the farmers just can't keep up
with," Stone said. "They aren't able to digest new technologies as they
come along. In Warangal, the pattern of change is dizzying. From 2003 to
2005, more than 125 different brands of cottonseed had been sold. But
the seeds come and go. In 2005, there were 78 kinds being sold, but only
24 of those were around in 2003."

Bt cottonseed, genetically modified to produce its own insecticide, was
introduced in India in 2002. Between 2003 and 2005, the market share of
Bt seed -- created through collaboration between Monsanto Co. and several
Indian companies -- rose to 62 percent from 12 percent.

Stone's research reveals that the increase resulted not from traditional
farming methods of testing seed for efficacy, but from a pattern of
"social learning" -- farmers relying on word of mouth to choose seeds.

"Very few farmers were doing experimental testing, they were just using
it because their neighbors were," Stone said. "There has been a
breakdown in the process of farmers evaluating new seed technologies."

While Bt seed exacerbates the problem by creating yet another option,
the farming troubles predate its introduction. In the late 1990s, there
was an epidemic of farmer suicide in the Warangal District. Many farmers
are deeply in debt and have been for generations.

Stone's study shows that a problem of recognition contributes to those
woes. The farmers' desire for novelty leads to rapid turnover in the
seed market. Seed firms frequently take seeds that have become less
popular, rename them and sell them with new marketing campaigns, Stone said.

"Many different brands are actually the same seed," he said. "Farmers
can't recognize what they are getting. As a result, the farmers can't
properly evaluate seeds. Instead, they ask their neighbors. Copying your
neighbor isn't necessarily a bad thing; but in this case, everyone is
copying everyone else, which results in fads, not testing."

Stone argues that the previously undocumented pattern of fads, in which
each village moves from seed to seed, reflects a breakdown in
"environmental learning," leaving farmers to rely on "social learning."
Stone refers to this situation as "de-skilling."

"The bottom line is that the spread of Bt cotton doesn't so much reflect
that it works for the farmers or that the farmers have tested it and
found it to be a good technology," Stone said. "The spread more reflects
the complete breakdown in the cotton cultivation system."


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                                  PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  AP to continue legal battle against Monsanto
SOURCE: The Economic Times, India
AUTHOR: Press Trust of India
URL:    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1727583.cms
DATE:   06.03.2007
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AP to continue legal battle against Monsanto

NEW DELHI: Andhra Pradesh would continue its legal battle against
Monsanto over the trait value of Bt cotton seeds even as the MNC has
sent "feelers" for an out of court settlement, State Agriculture
Minister N Raghuveera Reddy has said.

"They have sent feelers for an out of court settlement. But, we will
continue our fight both in the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade
Practices Commission (MRTPC) and in Supreme Court," he said.

The state government, which had filed a case against Monsanto in MRTPC
against the "astronomical" trait value of its BT cotton seeds, has
achieved a legal victory as it got a ruling in its favour.

Monsanto was asked to reduce the trait value to Rs 750 for a packet of
seeds from Rs 1,900.

Further more, the Supreme Court has refused to stay the MRTPC order of
May, 2006 directing the US-based MNC to reduce its price up to level of China.

Reddy said the company has sent a proposal for out of court settlement
saying it is ready to accept certain terms of the state government but
the trait value of Rs 750 be raised for both the BT 1 and BT 2 varieties.

Reddy made it clear that "there is no question of raising the price for
both the varieties".

Significantly, he said the proposal for out of court settlement is
beyond the purview of state government now as seven more state
governments, including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka,
Kerala, have also joined hands with it in the legal battle.

"But, in principle we have no problem having an out of court
settlement," he added.

"When we had gone to court, we were alone. But now other state
governments have also joined us. So, any decision on the issue would
have to be taken in consultation with them," the Minister said.

No consultations have taken place with other state governments.


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