GENET archive


BUSINESS: BT seeds to gain half of India's cotton area

                                  PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  BT seeds to gain half of India's cotton area - trade body
SOURCE: Reuters, India
AUTHOR: Rajendra Jadhav
DATE:   22.05.2007

BT seeds to gain half of India's cotton area - trade body

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The total area under cotton in India, the world's  
third largest producer, may see little change in 2007/08, but  
genetically modified varieties would account for half of it, a trade  
body official said on Tuesday.

Kishorilal Jhunjhunwala, president of the East India Cotton  
Association, told Reuters the crop had covered 9.1 million hectares in  
2006/07, with good yield and prices. Thus, farmers would have little  
incentive to shift to any other crop now.

,,Any kind of change in area will not be more than 5 percent down," he  
told Reuters over the telephone.

The last year was marked by a sharp rise in productivity, with cotton  
yield rising to 500 kg per hectare, largely aided by adoption of BT  
cotton, Jhunjhunwala said. Bio-engineered cotton covered 35 percent of  
total area.

Based on technology from seed giant Monsanto Co., BT cotton helps  
fight boll worms, a major worry for Indian farmers. However, it has  
faced stiff opposition from environmental groups who claim such  
products deplete bio-diversity.

,,Whether people like or dislike, the BT system is accepted by Indian  
farmers," Jhunjhunwala said predicting BT cotton could cover as much  
as 80 percent of area within two years.

Jhunjhunwala said, ,,farmers are very happy with cotton prices and  
productivity. But I don't think farmers will shift towards cotton from  
other crops or towards other crops from cotton."

An official with the government in Maharashtra, which accounts for the  
nation's largest area under the crop, concurred with that view.

,,Farmers are aggressively buying BT cotton seeds, certainly there  
will be increase in area under BT," the official, who declined to be  
named, said.

But a farmer activist in Maharashtra, where 1,448 impoverished farmers  
killed themselves in 2006 to escape the burden of debt, said the  
growth in BT cotton area resulted from intense marketing and shortage  
of normal hybrid seeds.

,,When seed distributors say they don't have hybrid seeds, farmers  
have no option but to buy BT cotton," Kishore Tiwari, president of  
farmer group Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, said.

Indian trade officials estimate the country's cotton production will  
go up to 27 million bales in year to September 2007, up 11 percent  
from year ago.

Jhunjhunwala said cotton farmers would not be distracted by the high  
prices for oilseeds and pulses. ,,I don't think farmers will shift  
towards cotton from other crops or towards other crops from cotton."

Jhunjhunwala said India's total cotton export in the cotton year  
ending September would cross 4 million bales but would be below  
earlier expectations, due to the rupee's strength against the U.S.  

-------------------- archived at --------------------

                                  PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Mahyco office vandalised for suspected GM crop trials
SOURCE: Business Standard, India
DATE:   22.05.2007

Mahyco office vandalised for suspected GM crop trials

The office of Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), a subsidiary  
of Monsanto was vandalised and ransacked by unidentified miscreants.

The attack was due to a mistaken belief that Mahyco was conducting  
trials for insect-tolerant crops in West Bengal, Mahendra Sharma,  
general manager of Mahyco, said.

Mahyco is currently engaged in trials of regular hybrids of paddy and  
bhindi (lady's finger) that have nothing to do with  
genetically-improved crops, Sharma said, adding, these trials are part  
of regular research to develop new hybrids and test their efficacy.

Mahyco had conducted trials of insect-tolerant paddy and bhindi in  
West Bengal in 2006 in strict conformity with the regulations laid  
down by the Centre and with the permission and knowledge of the West  
Bengal Agriculture Department, Sharma said.

,,Those are long over and no such trials are on at the moment," he added.

,,Scientists around the world, including China, many parts of Europe  
and Latin America, are working on new technologies in agriculture to  
help farmers meet the challenge of sustainable agriculture using less  
land, water and pesticides. Some of these new technologies pertain to  
hybrids, which have nothing to do with biotechnology or genetically  
modified crops," Sharma said.

He said recent reports in a section of the media over the past few  
days alleging surreptitious trials of insect-tolerant crops in the  
state led to the incident.

-------------------- archived at --------------------