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6 September 2002


AgBioIndia Mailing List
06 September 2002

Subject: Bt cotton fails in Maharashtra

First it was Madhya Pradesh in central India, and now it is the turn of Vidarbha cotton belt in adjoining state of Maharashtra. Bt cotton crop has failed miserably. Maharashtra farmers, who till recently were being projected to be lining up before the seed companies for the seeds of genetically modified cotton, are now a dejected lot. The standing Bt crop in over 30,000 hectares in Maharashtra has been damaged.

Farmers are demanding a compensatory package of Rs 5,000 million. They have threatened to take a legal recourse if the companies fail to meet the economic loss. While the farmers are completely justified in their demand, the entire responsibility for the Bt cotton debacle rests with the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment & Forests. The GEAC is solely responsible for hastily pushing in the untested technology despite being warned time and again of the scandal in the name of science. The chairman of GEAC must be held accountable for this serious scientific lapse. This should act as a deterrent to the large-scale experimentation that goes on unchecked in this country in the name of improving farmers' lot. After all, how many more farmers need to be sacrificed at the altar of agricultural development?

We bring you the first report (a news report) from central India's major newspaper The Hitvada. Also appended below is a letter from a scientist on the failure of Bt cotton to Mr Krishan Bir Chowdhary, Executive Secretary of the Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS),  one of the country's biggest farmers' organisation.
A). "Bt cotton failed to give results in Vidarbha"
The Hitavada, Nagpur.
Sep.4, 2002:

The seeds of BT cotton supplied by Mahyco-Monsanto company completely failed to give the suitable results. The crops in 30,000 hectares in all over Vidarbha has been spoiled completely because of " ROOT ROT", a disease of roots.

The disease is caused due to wrong selection of Bt genes developed in America and brought to India. The farmers in Vidarbha will incur a financial loss worth Rs 500 crore (Rs 5,000 million) due to wrong policies of Government. Kishore Tiwari, President Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti gave a legal notice to Ministry of Agriculture demanding the recovery of loss of Rs 500 crore incurred by the farmers due to sowing of Bt cotton seeds.

If the Government will not take any cognisance to the legal notice, Public Interest Litigation will be filled in the Mumbai High Court, said Kishore Tiwari in a press release.

Similar news appeared in the Marathi language newspapers. We bring you the headlines from these large selling dailies:

1. "30,000 hectares BT-Cotton crops damaged and over Rs. 500-crore losses are reported"; in Deshonnati Sep.2, 2002.

2. "In Umrked Taluka over 70 per cent Bt cotton crop is attacked by root rot", in Navrashtra Sep 1, 2002.

3. "1800 Acres BT- Cotton crop burnt due to wilt"  in Lokmat, August 29, 2002.


B). An edited copy of the letter:

My dear Dr KrishnaBir Chaudharyji
Very kind regards,

The Bt-cotton seed use and misuse has created lots of problems for farmers in Vidarbha area. The farmers, I am keeping contact with are now complaining about its plantings on their farms. Many have recorded only up to 50 per cent germination and many others had poor germination, which may be both due to dry spell and poor seed quality in the region.

I very strongly support your views on Bt-cotton use and whenever farmers organization and group call me to talk on the Bt-cotton technology I give them similar advise as you give in your speeches. I feel that Bt cotton will make Vidarbha farmers poor due to its high cost and poor quality. On the Bt cotton in Vidarbha, I was not happy [initially] with the remarks of newly appointed Vice Chancellor of the Agriculture University at Akola but after my letter to him, now he has changed [his stand] and said that the Bt cotton is not a solution for the Vidarbha farmers. He also said that the seed companies are the one who quoted him wrongly in the news papers recently. I and some others in the region are watching the progress and problems caused due to Bt-cotton plantings on the farmers farm, and we shall keep you in touch
Sincerely yours,
(name withheld on request)

In another letter, he writes:
"Despite Bharat Krishak Samaj's repeated warnings to farmers all over India, before the plantings (including Maharashtra) yet several farmers have planted the controversial Bt- cotton seed, in June/July 2002 sowings. Since the controversial Bt cotton seed was not tested enough nationwide, we had expected some problems at the several places in Vidarbha region, and this what has happened this season. The Bt- seed crop is affected all over in the Vidarbha region due to root rot and over 70% crop areas are affected."
Earlier report on failure of Bt Cotton crop in Madhya Pradesh:

Bt Cotton -- The Bitter Harvest

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