ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

18 October 2002


1. Bollworm eats into Bt cotton's pride


1. Bollworm eats into Bt cotton's pride

The Hitavada, Oct 10, 2002.
by Abhiram Ghadyal Patil
Warora, Oct 9 [via]

Whosever said that the genetically engineered Bt cotton is built to fight the pest attack needs to eat his words. Here is proof. ( Photo shows American bollworm insects sucking a Bt cotton boll grown at the Anandwan farm. Pic by Moonlight ).

A three acre farm in humanist Baba Amte's Anandwan, 110 km from Nagpur, sown with the Bt cotton seed merits a closer look by the Bt lobby, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) and the Union Agricultural Ministry. American bollworms have eaten more than 80% of the yield on this farm.

When the GEAC cleared Bt cotton seed early this year, it was called the ultimate answer to American bollworms, considered the biggest enemy of cotton crop in India.

But at the Anandwan farm, the dreaded bollworm has emerged triumphant, deracinating what was projected to be its nemesis. Ironically, just beside the ruined Bt cotton crop stands a successful crop of Nanded 44 cotton, a domestically developed breed of cotton.

This is no ordinary farm. It belongs to Anandwan College of Agriculture, affiliated to Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Agricultural University. The person crying foul is none other than the Dean of the College Dr. M Y Palarpawar." Here, Bt cotton has proved to be a hoax.  If there is a genetic mechanism to resist the pest, it should not have attacked on such scale. This experiment has failed. But what about farmers who have fallen prey to the Bt humbug?" he told The Hitavada.

Indeed, the scale of pest attack clinches the debate against Bt cotton. Workers here collected more than 3,000 worms which had infested 80 per cent of bolls.

In September end, the college staff had to clear the farm of 10,000 bolls left completely parched by the worms. " The scale of attack forced us to spray  insecticides. When Bt seed was introduced, its advocates said it would render pesticides obsolete," Dr Palarpawar said.

In Bt cotton, insecticide crystal protein (ICP) is genetically transferred into the seed that works against bollworms. When pest attack. It suck the ICP also along with the bolls. " The ICP is suppose to paralyse the worms," said Dr. Palarpawar. Apparently this theory has not worked. " Mahyco officials I talked to asked us to use insecticide but could not explain what went wrong the genetic mechanism.  Farmers went for Bt as they were unable to bear the cost of insecticides. What's the point in purchasing expensive Bt seed and also using equally expensive insecticides? he asked.

US agro-major Monsanto, the commercial brain behind Bt, has chosen Maharashtra Hybrid Cotton Seed Company (Mahyco) as its Indian partner for sale of Bt cotton. The GEAC had allowed its use subject to success of experiments to be conducted by the various cotton research institutes including the Nagpur-based Central Institute for Cotton Resarch ( CICR). But Mahyco started selling the seed in Maharashtra even before the experiments were over.

As compared to the price of domestically developed varieties of cotton seeds ranging between Rs 400 to 500 per pack of 400 gram seeds, the cost of Bt seed is Rs 1600. "Government should have asked agriculture colleges to conduct experiments before release. This care was not taken and farmers who went for Bt with high hopes are now cursing it," Dr. Palarpawar said.

[We are grateful to Dr R B Thakare for keeping us posted of the developments in central India]



International Protest to be held in the Philippines Against CGIAR, IRRI
October 18, 2002
REFERENCE: Rafael V. Mariano, KMP National Chairperson

The biggest farmers organization in the country announced the launching of an international protest in the Philippines against the Annual General Meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), together with the Resistance and Solidarity Against Agrochem TNCs (RESIST), the La Via Campesina (International Peasant Movement), the International Alliance Against Agrochemical TNCs (IAAATNCs) will lead the affair with an opening protest at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Laguna on October 29.  The groups will also launch a People's Street Conference carrying the theme "Uphold People's Control on Agriculture! Assert Farmer-centered Agricultural Research and Centers!" on October 30.

"The CGIAR - the mother ship and giant piggy bank of all anti-people, anti-peasant researches and technologies is not welcome in the Philippines and in the world.  The 'best of science for poor farmers' they are flaunting to be committed to is nothing but a worn-out rhetoric to cover up the super profits they accrue at the expense of poor farmers of Third World and developing countries."  Rafael Mariano, KMP chairperson and IAAATNCs Co-Coordinator said.

The CGIAR is an association of public and private members supporting a system of 16 centers around the world and is sponsored bu the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank and the UN Development Programme.  This is the first time the CGIAR-AGM will be held outside Washington upon the Philippine's invitation.

"From the Green Revolution to the Gene Revolution, we farmers have been made to believe that IRRI and other CGIAR agencies and institutions' researches and technologies were meant to increase crop yields, increase production and solve hunger.  But instead, it has worsened the monopoly of imperialist globalization on food and agriculture. "

"Macapagal-Arroyo's invitation to the CGIAR-AGM is another spread-eagle surrender not only of our local agriculture and economy but also of our sovereignty.  She has proven not only the mouthpiece and puppet of US imperialism in Southeast Asia but the US' and agrochemical TNC's own Genetically Modified Android serving their own profit-centered interests."  Mariano concluded.

The People's Street Conference will be attended to by more than 20 foreign delegates and guests from people's organizations,  farmers coalitions, non-government organizations and mass organizations worldwide.

ngin bulletin archive