15 May 2002
INDONESIA: BT COTTON FAILS
Source: KONPHALINDO, Jl. Kelapa Hijau No.99, Jagakarsa Jakarta Selatan
Telp. (021-7888 0075 or 787 3169). <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jakarta, 27 March 2002
Bt Transgenic cotton a total failure
The data presented by the Head of the South Sulawesi Plantation Agency, Eng. Makkarasang, on Friday, 23/3/2002 in Makassar revealed that the bt transgenic cotton owned by MONSANTO (in Indonesia PT Monagro Kimia) failed because the agreement made by the company and the scientists who supports the transgenic cotton was not met, that is, about 3-4 tons per hectare. The 'agreement' attached to the Letter of Decision of the Minister of Agriculture No. 107/2001 (SK Mentan 107/2001) allowed the commercialization of the transgenic cotton in Indonesia by describing the production of Bt cotton at about 2,210 kg (2.21 ton) per hectare while the highest is 3,100 kg (3,1 ton) per hectare. According to Makkarasang, the productivity of 74 percent of the land planted with transgenic cotton is less than 1 (one) ton per hectare while the cotton produced by Bt transgenic was only about 1,121 kg/ha.
Out of the 4,364,20 ha. of land planted with transgenic cotton, about 522,43 ha. was a total failure, it was not able to produce anything. As a consequence of the Failure and the low harvest results, the farmers are indebted to the owner of the Bt transgenic cotton company. And although the farmers refused to plant cotton transgenik again, they are still obliged to plant cotton to pay their debts to the company. All these consequences must be shouldered by the farmers because their position in the contract with the company is weak.
As such, the Letter of Decision of the Minister of Agriculture Number 03/Kpts/KB430/1/200 (SK Menteri Pertanian No.03/Kpts/KB.430/1/2002) concerning the Follow-up Unlimited Release of Bt Transgenik Cotton DP5690B as a superior variety called NuCOTN 35B (Bollgard) as stipulated in Letter of Decision of the Minister of Agriculture No. 107/Kpts/KB.430/2/2001 should not be issued. This is because the stipulation in letter (a) stating that the result of the evaluation of the transgenik cotton during the planting season in 2001, that includes the result of the environment risk analysis (ARL), experiment result, its resistance against pests and its impact on the social economy, indicate that the development of the Bt transgenik cotton in South Sulawesi is environment safe, has high productivity, resistant against pests and beneficial for the cotton farmers in South Sulawesi is DOUBTFUL.
The two Letter of Decisions concerning the Unlimited Release of the said Transgenik cotton does not really regulate the planting of transgenik cotton. As expected by non-governmental organizations, there is proof that the Jeneponto and Sinjai districts that are excluded from the seven districts mentioned in the said Letter of Decisions will develop 500 hectares of transgenik cotton. The reason for this is to conduct social and economic experiments, like the previous reason, despite the fact there are no written official permits and complete information is not given to the farmer.
The tendency to build a monopoly that is detrimental to the farmers was already apparent. The initial agreement between the farmers and the company stated that the price of the seed is Rp.40.000/kg, however, this increased to Rp.80.000/kg. The farmers protested so the price was returned to its initial price. Meanwhile, at first, the price of cotton brought from the farmers was Rp.2.600/kg but it decreased to Rp.2.500. Almost none of the farmers knew that the price of the seed (without the subsidy from Monsanto) is actually Rp. 120,000. During the planting season in 2002, the company determined the price of the seed at Rp.100.000/kg.
Meanwhile, the other researches conducted by the Agricultural Technology Research Hall, South Sulawesi Agricultural Social Research Center (Balai Pengkajian Teknologi Pertanian, Pusat Penelitian Sosial Pertanian Sulsel) in the year 2002 that compared the Kanesia 3, Kanesia 7 and Bollgard cottons showed the following results:
The income of farmers from the Kanesia 3 cotton is Rp.7.299.900.
The income obtained from Kanesia 7 cotton is Rp.8.649.00.
The income obtained from Bollgard cotton is only Rp.5.909.00.
Unfortunately, it turned out the Kanesia Cotton developed by Indonesian scientists in the Cotton Research Hall and in Serat Malang for example was more superior. However, it was not given the opportunity to develop.
In terms of the economic aspect, the benefits in cultivating Bt cotton which is actually almost none is always said to be advantageous, the social impact in terms of the dependence of the farmers are neglected, and its negative impact on the environment are always denied. This is in spite of the fact that the result of the research conducted in Wajo and Soppeng by PPLH Universitas Hasanudin in 2002, indicated that the mortality (death) rate of silkworms (Bombyx mori) that are given bt cotton leaves are higher compared with silkworms that are given non-bt cotton leaves. This is an indication of its impact on non-target insects.
Research data and the condition of the field show that the transgenic product is not the answer to the agricultural and food problem of the Indonesian people.
Notes for the editor:
1. Indonesia is the first tropical country in the world that commercialized transgenic plants.
2. Several transgenic plants are being tested in Indonesia without having complete information on the area and its extent.
3. The society is not provided with an honest, complete, and correct information on transgenic products and its status.
4. The research conducted by YLKI shows that many transgenic food products are circulated in Indonesia without complete labels.
1. KONPHALINDO, Jl. Kelapa Hijau No.99, Jagakarsa Jakarta Selatan 12620.
Telp. (021-7888 0075 or 787 3169). <email@example.com>
2. Ida Ronauli (0812 839 4128)
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