ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

5 March 2003


1.It's Official Now - Bt Cotton 95% Failure.
2.Bt cotton proves a failure in Andhra Pradesh -- Star TV
3.Govt to re-evaluate GM food imports, cotton crop


1.It's Official Now - Bt Cotton 95% Failure

Greenpeace calls for the Central Government to Acknowledge the Truth.

Warangal/New Delhi, 04 February 2003: The official verdict is out - V S Rao, Minister for Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh has declared that Bt Cotton farmers have not experienced very positive and encouraging results. Raja Mouli, a farmer of Nagaram Village, Warangal District, now curses the temptation that led him to experiment with Bt Cotton, "The official report has only confirmed what I knew all along. I have experienced the failure of the crop first-hand. Now that the truth is out, I want other farmers to be saved from this disaster - the government should stop these criminal companies at least in time for the next season."

In personal interviews with Greenpeace, Agricultural Officers from Warangal district have confirmed that Bt Cotton has been a near complete failure. In Parakala, for instance, a whopping 95 percent of Bt Cotton farmers have reported losses, similarly in Chityal. Ironically, Bt Cotton was promoted as an alternative in Warangal which was showcased as one of the hotbeds for excessive usage of pesticides and farmer suicides. The picture that is now emerging proves otherwise.

P Damoder, Secretary of Sarvodaya Youth Organisation, Warangal, adds, "The government must force the company to pay compensation. The farmers in this district cannot take these setbacks - any further deceit at the hands of companies like Mahyco-Monsanto is sure to instigate a fresh spate of farmer suicides. It is very urgent that the government steps in to stop the ongoing 'bookings' for Bollguard (Bt Cotton seeds) and prevent the aggressive false publicity that the company is indulging in. They may have more money,but it is upto us, and our government, to see that the farmers know the truth about Bt Cotton failures."

Greenpeace has been campaigning at the state, national and international level to call for a complete rejection of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Bt Cotton prime amongst the crops that are crippling the farmers agronomically, and putting the ecology at risk too. Earlier this year, they sought to bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr. T.R. Baalu. They confronted him with evidence that his statement to the Parliament, stating that Bt Cotton had shown a 'satisfactory' performance, was a complete lie - and offered him video testimonies directly from farmers.

"At that time, the Hon'ble Minister's preposterous response was that farmers 'tend to lie.' He brushed aside the testimonies we presented. Now that the truth is official, the Central Government has no choice but to pay heed to the farmers, or to the state government officials now corroborating ourstand," says Divya Raghunandan, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace India. "If the Hon'ble Minister remains unconvinced even after the Andhra Pradesh government's acknowledgement of the truth, we will have to question his motives."

Greenpeace India and Sarvodaya Youth Organisation today held the first in a series of village-level workshops to facilitate informed discussions amongst farmers on GE technologies, the hazards therein, and the alternatives available. Today's workshop, in Kapulakanaparthy village, Warangal District, was attended by more than 70 farmers from four villages, who shared disturbingly similar experiences of Bt Cotton failure.

Kavitha Kuruganti, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace India, says, "It is high time that the government supported well-established, safer non-GE or non-pesticide alternatives to cotton farming. We demand that Mr. T.R. Baalu withdraw his statement and accept the all-round failure of Bt Cotton. Greenpeace also calls upon Members of Parliament to question the government on this, so that the truth is publicly known." [via AgBioIndia:]


2.Bt cotton proves a failure in Andhra Pradesh -- Star TV
March 3, 2003 [via AgBioIndia:]

The NDTV, which beams the Star TV news in India, has the news story on video on its website. If you want to view the news report that was carried by Star TV, click on the URL above.


3.Govt to re-evaluate GM food imports, cotton crop


The Times of India[ TUESDAY, MARCH 04, 2003 11:16:28 PM ]

NEW DELHI: For advocates and detractors of genetically-modified (GM) crops, there's good news and bad. The government is set to give a fresh hearing to aid agencies keen to import food which may contain GM ingredients.

But it is also considering setting aside its own "satisfaction" with the performance of transgenic Bt cotton, to set up a small group to re-evaluate the results.

When the government's genetic engineering approval committee (GEAC) meets Thursday after a gap of four months, the doors will be opened to a presentation from two aid agencies, CARE and Catholic Relief Services. "They have been pursuing the matter....why unnecessarily get into a controversy?" says an official. What the official doesn't say is that US officials, and the agency USAID, have been pursuing the case as well.

In a country which is yet to decide whether to permit GM food, CARE and CRS had initially applied for permission to import a total of 23,000 metric tonnes of corn-soya blend, to be channelled into government aid programmes.

The Indian Council of Medical Research, among others, had reservations and verification and certification were recommended.

GEAC refused permission for the import, to be channelled into government aid programmes, last November. Officials said the US had many varieties of corn, for both animal and human consumption, and were concerned about banned or obsolete varieties slipping in.

Experts, in fact, sound a note of caution. K R Koundal, project director at the National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology here, is all for the science but against blindly aping the Americans or compromising systems. "Whatever the product, it must be tested and monitored," he says.

Opening another front, the government is also wondering how best to tackle the good Bt-bad  Bt contest still on between the firm stewarding Bt cotton on farms and the activists who so mistrust it. The government, presumably an umpire, has declared the first harvest of Bt cotton satisfactory.

But the view that this crop has failed keeps popping up. Greenpeace and some others have approached the Union environment ministry. Various possibilities on a relook are being examined: States could be asked for reports, a small group could be set up, perhaps with GEAC members in it ^ but monitoring guidelines would be needed.

"I have no opinion on this," says C D Mayee of the Nagpur-based Central Institute of Cotton Research. Koundal, agreeing product performance is important and will influence different areas of activity, cautions that some of the existing committees supposed to do the job should not be undermined.

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