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REGULATION: Indian Supreme Court convenes hearing on GM crop ban



                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  SC hearing on GM crops ban today
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India
AUTHOR: Ashok B. Sharma
URL:    http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=163374
DATE:   07.05.2007
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SC hearing on GM crops ban today

NEW DELHI, MAY 6: The biotech industry has appealed to the Supreme Court
to vacate its ban order on fresh approval of genetically modified (GM)
crops. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan is
slated to hear the industry's petition on May 8.

The apex court, in the course of its hearing of a public interest
litigation filed by Aruna Rodrigues, PV Satheesh and others on September
22, 2006, had directed the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC)
not to clear any GM crop for fresh field trials. Earlier on May 1, 2006,
it had also said the GEAC and not the Review Committee for Genetic
Manipulation (RCGM) under the department of biotechnology should be
responsible for field trials and approval of GM crops.

"We have filed an impleadment application in the Supreme Court for
vacation of the ban order," said RK Sinha, executive director of All
India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA). Sinha is also the
executive director of National Seeds Association of India, a body formed
with the merger of AICBA and three seed industry bodies.

Sinha said, "There is no other options before the country, but to adopt
transgenic technology in agriculture. Agriculture land is shrinking and
we need to grow more as the population is rising. Transgenic technology
will help bail us out of this situation."

He said Bt cotton had benefited farmers by raising their levels of
income and reducing their costs of farming.

Sinha said apart from AICBA, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University,
University of Delhi and Dharwad University had also sought vacation of
the ban order. On the other side, farmers' organisations led by Bharat
Krishak Samaj have filed an impleadment supporting the PIL for a
moratorium on GM crops. The All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA)
has filed an impleadment expressing concerns over the possibility of
export prospects being damaged on account of genetic contamination due
to GM crops. AIREA has urged that a tough regulatory regime and adequate
biosafety measures are put in place before final approval.

Speaking to FE, Prashant Bhushan, who is the advocate for the
petitioner, Aruna Rodgrigues, said, "The government has not yet
disclosed the locations of trials relating to 91 applicants. It has not
also complied with the court's order of February, 2007 which called for
bio-safety reports of field trials. The department of bio-technology has
not given us toxicity data on transgenic rice, okra, brinjal and
mustard, despite the verdict of the Central Information Commission."

In reply, the government has claimed that "it has put in place a
stringent regulatory regime" for ensuring health and environment safety,
and has appealed for either removal or modification of the ban order.

On the safety aspect, the government said in its reply, "It is pertinent
to mention that no scientific technological development may be attained
in any country, developed or under developed, without taking calculated
risks and chances. As a matter of routine, tests are conducted, many of
them fail, some leave behind adverse effects, but still such tests
continue to be conducted in the interest of development. It is
impossible to eliminate all hazards connected with technological
development. However, all precautions are taken to minimise the adverse
effects which may follow."


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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  AP govt holds introduction of Bollgard II cottonseed
SOURCE: Bharat Textile, India
AUTHOR: 
URL:    http://www.bharattextile.com/newsitems/2003838
DATE:   03.05.2007
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AP govt holds introduction of Bollgard II cottonseed

HYDERABAD: The State Government at a high-level meeting held here in the
city has directed the Agriculture Department to hold the introduction of
Bollgard-II variety of cottonseed in Andhra Pradesh, industry sources
said here on May 02.

Mr N. Raghuveera Reddy, Minister for Agriculture who attend the meet
commented that the introduction of Bollgard cottonseed at a higher rate
at this juncture would only create confusion among farmers.

However, the decision to hold the introduction has hit a roadblock to
the hopes of cottonseed companies to introduce Bollgard-II in Andhra
Pradesh as the Agriculture Department officials has been directed not to
be in a hurry to allow it.

Despite a high price of Rs 1850 for a packet of 450 gm, the Bt cotton
acreage has gone up significantly in the last two years in the State;
whereas on the other hand, seed manufacturers in the last year had
agreed to reduce the price to Rs 750, following a legal conflict between
the Andhra Pradesh Government and Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL).

Further, MMBL announced introduction of Bollgard II technology even the
companies agreed to sell Bollgard I seeds at Rs 750.

The price of Bollgard II cottonseed has been fixed at Rs 975, the price
variation could trigger confusion as most of the farmers, who are not
literate, don't distinguish between Bollgard I and Bolgard II.

The Bollgard I variety protects the cotton plant only from bollworm,
while the Bollgard II offers a two-way protection against bollworm and
heliothis.


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