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[genet-news] CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVITIES: United Coalition Against Genetic Engineering (India) plans awareness campaign



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  UNCAGE PLANS AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

SOURCE: Express Buzz, India

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=UNCAGE+plans+awareness+campaign&artid=MwIlM0mQ6dw=&SectionID=mvKkT3vj5ZA=&MainSectionID=fyV9T2jIa4A=&SectionName=nUFeEOBkuKw=&SEO=UNCAGE,%20IPM%20and%20NPM,genetically%20modified

DATE:   14.04.2009

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UNCAGE PLANS AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

BHUBANESWAR: As part of its efforts to stop the entry of genetically modified (GM) ?Bt? brinjal into Orissa, city-based United Coalition Against Genetic Engineering (UNCAGE) has chalked out an extensive plan to spread awareness on the ill-effects of GM foods and crops.

Though the basis of introduction of ?Bt? brinjal in the state ?as touted by some seed companies ? is to introduce the crop varieties without specific insect attacks through introduction of a ?Bt? gene into the crop genome, there are other alternatives like integrated pest management (IPM) and non-pesticidal management (NPM) which can be equally effective.

According to the core committee members of the coalition, which has met here, experiments by OUAT have also shown effectiveness of IPM and NPM during 2002 and 2005. Also an experiment at Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute has shown that with adoption of ?composite farming? a farmer can not only get multiple crop yield, but also fight the pest menace effectively.

They also said frequent cultivation of a single crop in a particular field, killing of useful insects with the harmful ones with excessive use of pesticides and not choosing the right variety of brinjal as the field crop could be behind more attacks of pests for the standing crop.

According to Jagannath Chatterjee of Living Farms ? one of the partners of the coalition ? the awareness campaign would include ?padayatras? from village to village, street plays, protests by housewives, ?no to GMO campaigns? and screening of the film ?Poison on the Platter? produced by Mahesh Bhatt for ?target audiences? like academicians, doctors, government officials, policy makers, teachers and student leaders in various leading colleges, schools and hospitals of the state.

?Even we will have tie-ups with film clubs at local level across the state to spread the message through the documentary,? he added.

However, the most attractive form of awareness generation would come from several ?brinjal food festivals? in Orissa to let the consumers know that one of their favourite vegetables is under threat from GM varieties, UNCAGE coalition members revealed.

?In this unique food festival various traditional dishes of brinjal and their indigenous varieties would be on display in collaboration with regional partners where housewives will be encouraged to prepare their dishes, share ideas in the form of ?cooking competitions?.

?Even ayurvedic doctors, traditional healers and nutritionists will be roped in to deal with the nutritional and medicinal values of the vegetable,? they added.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  MAHYCO TO GIVE BT BRINJAL TECH TO OTHER SEED COS

SOURCE: The Hindu Business Line, India

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2009/04/15/stories/2009041550121000.htm

DATE:   15.04.2009

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MAHYCO TO GIVE BT BRINJAL TECH TO OTHER SEED COS

Plans maximising coverage under the new variety.

The technology has been extended to Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and East West Seed, a private firm in Bangladesh,

Kolkata, April 14 The Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd (Mahyco) is to license to other seed-growing companies the technology for the pest-resistant genetically modified Bt brinjal, according to its Joint Director of Research, Ms Usha Barwale Zehr.

Clearance

The Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation has cleared the scientific data on the new crop and the commercial launch is expected after the final approval by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the Ministry of Environment and Forest by this year, she said.

?The idea is to maximise the coverage under the new variety,? Ms Zehr said on the sidelines of a press conference here on Tuesday.

Crop coverage

The licensees may account for over 50 per cent of the proposed acreage, she said adding the balance would be marketed through its own distribution and sales network.

Currently, brinjal is grown on a total of 5,50,000 hectares in the country, of which nearly 1,64,000 hectares are under cultivation in West Bengal, the highest brinjal-growing state.

The company is awaiting a patent for its event identification technology, the technique of injecting the Bt (bascillus thuringiensis) protein into the genome of the brinjal. It has already extended the technology to Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and East West Seed, a private seed growing company in Bangladesh, Ms Zehr said.

Extending cotton tech

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Pvt Ltd, the joint venture between Mahyco seeds and Monsanto Holdings Pvt Ltd of the US, has so far licensed a similar technology applied in Bt cotton to 23 seed growing companies and the licensees contribute 60 per cent of the total cultivated area under the genetically modified cotton.

Bt cotton, currently the only commercially marketed crop produced by Bt technology in the country, accounts for over 80 per cent of the total cotton cultivating area.

While consumer groups and certain NGOs have expressed concerns over the consumption of Bt brinjals, Ms Zehr said the vegetable had passed all the safety standards set by the Government and external private agencies.

Lower pesticide use

?With Bt brinjal, farmers need to use 70 per cent less insecticides,? she said adding that the new variety would also help in checking wastage. The wastage in Bt brinjal would be 4-10 per cent as against 40-65 per cent in the normal variety.

?The cost advantage would result in a 116 per cent increase in market yield, while the productivity would rise by 8-13 per cent over the current average yield of 30 tonnes a hectare,? she said.

The company is also working on using Bt technology in other vegetables such as tomato, cabbage, cauliflower and okra, she said.


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