GENET archive


BUSINESS & SEEDS: Andhra (India) farmers cheer B-T cotton success

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Moneycontrol, India



DATE:   13.12.2008

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The Andhra Pradesh farmers has long been the symbol of distress in rural India. But this year, cotton farmers in the state have enjoyed the most productive season ever.

Here is a verbatim transcript of Vishwanath Pilla?s comments on CNBC-TV18. Also watch the accompanying video.

A new house, a shiny motor cycle and some buffalos, that?s the shopping list for cotton farmer Botla Kumaraswamy. Just a few years back, these would have been impossible for the 32 year-old who hails from the impoverished cotton belt in Warangal. Interestingly B-T cotton, which has been blamed for the farmer suicides in the state - may just have done the trick.

Botla Kumaraswamy, Warangal Farmer said, ?In non-BT we used to get 5-6 quintals. Pesticides and labour costs were high. The input costs were high but the yield was low. Now with Bollgard 1 and 2 we are able to reduce input costs significantly?

Over 90% of the 3.7 million cotton growing acres were cultivated under B-T cotton this kharif season. Last year, only a third of cotton cultivated was B-T cotton. Despite the controversy following the suicides, farmers find that their yield has enhanced by over 80% with the variant. It gives the farmer a profit of around 21,000 rupees per acre. Monsanto, which operates in India as Mahyco-Monsanto, sold 27 million packets of hybrid seeds worth Rs 2000 crore in the current season, in Andhra Pradesh alone it accounts to RS 300 crore.

Christopher Samuel, Sr Manager,Public Affairs, Monsanto said, ?We do lot of outreach programmes to farmers. About 70-75% of our team lives in rural areas. If farmer succeed we succeed. So, in India alone we do one million direct farmer contact programmes. We also work with seed companies, universities and the government to ensure that farmer gets better yield.?

Given the huge demand, the supply shortage had lead to farmer riots in several parts of state. Earlier, inadequate production sent farmers to the grave. This time they are fighting to buy the seeds.

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: Commodity Online, India



DATE:   15.12.2008

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NEW DELHI: GM is the word the world is embracing tightly now. It is not General Motors but Genetically Modified. Countries across the world are now rushing to embrace genetically modified crops to tackle their food crisis.

China is the best example for this now. In a mountainous place like Yunnan in China, and in many other parts of the developing world, research in GM crops is progressing. It can tip the balance between hunger and a decent living. China now is ready to tip that scale in favor of genetically modified crops.

Surging costs, population growth, drought and other setbacks linked to global climate change are pressuring world food supplies, while soaring prices on the street have triggered riots and raised the number of people going hungry to more than 923 million, according to UN estimates.

With food demand forecast to increase by half by 2030, the incentive to use genetic engineering to boost harvests and protect precious crops from insects and other damage has never been greater.

In Europe, Africa and Asia, governments that have resisted imports of genetically modified foods and banned growing such crops are watering down those restrictions. Meanwhile, they are pushing ahead faster with their own research, despite lingering questions over the safety of such technology.

Influential voices around the world are calling for a re-examination of the GM debate. Biotechnology provides such tools to help address food sustainability issues.

Genetic manipulation to insert desirable genes or accelerate changes traditionally achieved through crossbreeding can help make crops resistant to insects and disease or enable them to tolerate herbicides. Livestock similarly can be altered by inserting a gene from one animal into the DNA of another.

Many researchers think such methods are essential for a second green revolution, now that the gains from the first, in the mid-20th century, are tapering off.

Bioengineered crops are widely grown in Canada, Argentina and the United States, where nearly all soybeans, most cotton and a growing proportion of corn are designed for tolerance to herbicides or resistance to insects. A virus-resistant GM variety of papaya is commercially grown in Hawaii and China.

Beijing is on the verge of releasing an insect-resistant rice variety soon.

Vietnam is pushing ahead with an ambitious program to develop commercial GM crops to reduce reliance on imports. In May, South Korea, which already imports GM soybeans, began importing bioengineered corn to help bridge shortfalls of conventional corn after China began limiting its exports.

Brazil?s National Biosafety Commission recently approved two new varieties of genetically modified corn seeds, after giving the green light two years ago for GM varieties of soybeans. India has tripled acreage of GM cotton, the only bioengineered crop it allows.

In Africa, where governments sometimes have rejected food aid shipments containing GM grains, South African scientists have completed field tests of a potato developed to fend off tuber moths. They also recently approved trials of sorghum genetically enhanced to improve the digestibility and nutritional content of the coarse grain, which thrives in arid soils.



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