ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
30 December 2002


1.Bt Cotton dashes hopes of ryots
2.HYDERABAD: Ban on import of GM cottonseed demanded


1.Bt Cotton dashes hopes of ryots

By K. Venkateshwarlu
The hindu

MALLAPUR (MAHABUBNAGAR DT.) DEC. 29. It is a double shock for the cotton farmers of this small dusty village of the perennially drought-hit district. First it was drought that cut into their earnings and now it is the failure of Bt Cotton.

Influenced by the high-decibel campaign by Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech and with a lot of hope, Akki Ramulu raised the Bt Cotton hybrid buying the seed at Rs. 1,600 a packet (Bt Mech 162), about four times higher than the usual hybrid variety Bunny (Rs. 450) on an acre of his land. But after six months, he is a shattered man.

After months of hard work, he may just be able to get a quintal of cotton, against the promised yield of 10-12 quintals per acre.

The remaining crop is either stunted or shrivelled up and full of insects. He had spent Rs. 1,600 on seed, Rs. 4,000 on eight pesticide sprays and Rs. 1,200 on fertilizers. "I should not have believed them. I have learnt a bitter lesson. I will never raise this Bt Cotton,'' rued Ramulu.

Another farmer, Venkat Reddy, switched over to Bt from the regular Bunny and raised it on three acres, hoping to wipe out his debts. Victim of a confidence trick played by the seed dealer who promised to pay him Rs. 30,000 if the Bt crop failed, Reddy raised it, only to get dejected in four months time. Two cotton pickings later, he says there were not many buyers for Bt cotton, as the lint was less, seeds were more and the staple length was a clear 10 mm less than the Bunny variety.  "While the Bt cotton fetched Rs. 1,300 a quintal, the Bunny still commanded a price of Rs. 2,600,'' he said making rounds of the dealer, in vain.

Considering himself a progressive farmer, P. Ranga Reddy, went the whole hog, with liberal help directly from the "company'' representative.

Bt cotton was raised all over his 11 acres and he spent Rs. 1 lakhs on seed, pesticide sprays and fertilizers.  The Bt Cotton was much better here compared to the other farms but he is nowhere near recovering his cost.

Three factors might have helped him in minimising the loss - direct supervision by the company man, a switchover from mirchi to cotton and heavy use of pesticides.

Farmers of nearby villages such as Fatimapur, Gudur, Reddypalem, Cheguru and Narsappagudem in Kothur mandal, who have raised Bt cotton on hundreds of acres are also on the verge of incurring huge losses.

But the question is who will pay the compensation for the loss, the company or the Government, which has approved its commercialisation. At a meeting at Fatimapur, organised by the Telangana Natural Resource Management Group (TNRMG) a network of 12 NGOs, cotton farmers from these villages and from Ranga Reddy and Adilabad poured out their anger at the crop failure, explained the way they were deceived and vowed not to go in for Bt Cotton in future.

"It is clear that the Bt Cotton has failed on all counts and the claims made by the company have been proved wrong. It has neither improved the yield through better plant protection nor reduced the pesticide usage.

In fact, the Bt cotton crop raised by P. Ranga Reddy of Mallapur showed that expensive pesticides like tracers, cypermethrin, confidor and avant were used defeating the very objective.

The returns were not as promised as the pod itself was small, seeds were more, lint and the staple length were less,'' said the farm scientists team, comprising K.V.R. Chowdary, Prasada Rao and S. Jeevananda Reddy, after the field visit.

"In the light of these ground realities,'' they demanded immediate withdrawal of the approval granted by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee to Monsanto-Mahyco and payment of compensation to farmers.


2.HYDERABAD: Ban on import of GM cottonseed demanded
Bureau Report

HYDERABAD, Dec 23: Hundreds of farmers and haris took out a procession here on Sunday to protest against harmful effects of genetically modified (GM) cottonseed.

The procession started from Bhit Shah and terminated at the Hyderabad Press Club.

The protesters, including activists of the Bhandar Hari Sanghat, Hyderabad, Roshan Khayal Zamindar Tanzim, Kachho Foundation and the Green Rural Development Organization, raised slogans against the multinational companies producing the poisonous seed.

Talking to the protesters outside the press club, political leader and human rights activist Jam Saqi said the government had not banned import of the Australian genetically modified cottonseed which could render the rich agricultural land of the province barren.

He said the motive behind this apathy of the government was to dispose of the land to multinational companies at throw-away rates.

Saqi also criticized irrigation staff for creating artificial shortage of water in Sindh.

He deplored the government had taken no action against owners of sugar mills for not starting the crushing season, adding mills in the other provinces had already started the crushing of sugarcane.

Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan Kishan Ittihad central coordinator Ghulam Sarwar Roonjho said the agriculture sector in the country was in crisis.

He stressed the need for launching a joint struggle by haris and farmers to save the agrarian economy.

Comrade Ramzan Memon demanded the government should ban the import of poisonous seeds and pesticides.

Roshan Khayal Tanzim president Mithu Khan Malookani said due to the use of poisonous cottonseed, thousands of acres of agricultural land had been destroyed.

He demanded farmers should be compensated for the loss.

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