Monday, June 18, 2007

Graze on BT Cotton Fields - Drop Dead

If you are reading this news item in English, chances are that you are lucky not to be grazing sheep and cattle on Indian BT cotton fields of Andhra Pradesh. However, if you are a non vegetarian, be ready for taking risk assessments for your health if you eat meat from sheep grazed on Indian farms.
Indian sheep have been dying of mysterious reasons, totally unexamined by Indian agricultural and scientific establishment. Maybe Indian agricultural research establishment is composed of only of scientists who are totally vegetarians.'Bt+cotton+fields+can+kill+farm+animals'

The Andhra Pradesh government has advised farmers not to allow animals to graze on Bt cotton fields after four institutes reported the presence of toxins in them.

Goats and sheep grazing on post-harvest Bt cotton fields were found dead in Warangal and Adilabad districts in 2006 and in the first two months of 2007.

The Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory, the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, the Western Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the department of agriculture, NG Ranga Agriculture University found the presence of nitrates and nitrites, and residues of organophosphates in Bt cotton plants.

Dr L Mohan, director, Andhra Pradesh animal husbandry department, said: “The deaths have resulted in huge economic losses for farmers.”

Andhra Pradesh, which had earlier moved the Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices tribunal against the high price of Bt seeds, said no bio-safety studies of Bt cotton seeds had yet been conducted.

MK Sharma, managing director, Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech India Ltd, makers of the genetically modified Bt cotton, said: “Bt cotton is being grown in nine states, and no such complaint has come except from a few villages in Andhra. We conducted safety studies before the trials and all Bt seeds were found to be safe.”

The Andhra government has informed the union ministry of environment and forests about its findings. The ministry has ordered a probe.

Email :

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Maharashtra Government Bt Cotton Equations

Warnings aside, more Bt cotton seeds arrive farm woes - DNA Reports
Experts warn of impending disaster if monsoons fail " We don't know yet if these varieties will suit the agro-cli- matic and soil condi- tions. Releasing the second generation Bt for commercial use is surely disastrous." - A scientist - Jaideep Hardikar, Nagpur

Beleaguered cotton farmers in Vidarbha are staring at another disaster in the ensuing sowing season. Almost the entire belt would be cultivating Bt cotton, which have not yielded encouraging results in the past in the rain-fed region.
While cotton prices are crashing every year, a total shift to genetic cotton will spiral production cost phenomenally, leading to heavy losses, farm activists say An . estimate suggests that over 30 lakh packets of Bt cottonseeds would be sold this season, enough to cover well over ten lakh hectare farms in the region.

That's a rise of more than double in the acreage over the last year. A disaster of unforeseen and unmanageable proportions is on the cards, if there is any fluctuation in the arrival of monsoon, fears Kishor Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. "The government is selling a new disaster to the struggling farmers."
Interestingly, the Maharashtra Agri culture Minister, Balasaheb Thorat, recently admitted that Bt had failed in Vidarbha and cautioned farmers not to sow it.

Also, the state government has paid about Rs 400 crore to farmers in the last four years as compensation due to the failure of Bt cotton. Farm activists point out the government-run Mahabeej seeds corporation is marketing Bt cottonseeds to inputs dealers, while the minister advises caution.
Yet, what's concerning the activists is the permission granted to nearly 53 new genotypes of Bt cotton by the Genetic Engineer ing Approval Committee (GEAC). As many 35 of those varieties would be introduced in the central parts of India.
Over 60 Bt varieties are already in the market here and more will arrive soon. And there's hardly any study on the performance of new genotypes in Vidarbha.

"We don't know yet whether these varieties will suit the agro-climatic and soil conditions. Moreover, releasing the second generation Bt (Bollguard II) for a widespread commercial use is surely disastrous," admits a senior scientist.
He also warns that it is only a matter of time before the widespread emergence of resistance in bollworms will cause the Bt cotton technology to collapse.
Peasants' confusion would be compounded by the introduction of new varieties this season. As companies compete for a greater market share, their fierce and relentless promotional tactics will expose the farmers to far greater risks.

Farmers' leader Vijay Jawandhia argues, "Bt cotton has not brought about any increase in productivity. Also, it has not reduced the use of chemicals."
Various state government reports and statistics too suggest that Bt cotton has not brought about any rise in productivity or decline in the pesticide use.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Kharif Sowing Review - Minister admits Bt Cotton goof up

Bt cotton has failed in Vidarbha - Kharif Sowing - Inadequate and late advice to farmers : - Minister admits goof ups.
11 May, 2007 l 0354 hrs IST lTIMES NEWS NETWORK

SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates

NAGPUR: If any proof about failure of genetically modified Bt cotton in the main cotton growing area of Vidarbha was needed, it came on Wednesday from Maharashtra agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat.

After a meeting with agriculture experts, officials, people's representatives, for the coming Kharif season, Thorat admitted that the much-hyped, and high-priced Bt seeds were only adding to the burden of Vidarbha's farmers.

Thorat said the opening of Bt to more private companies was likely to bring down the prices and make it more affordable for farmers.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Falling Cotton Production

GM Cotton - Three Years - Three Failures - Falling Trend
Vidarbha rural areas have been devastated by falling income levels and rising debt levels.
GM Cotton crop fails in Vidarbha - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - Third year in Row :
As per Govt. Of Maharashtra (GOM) official figure total procurement of cotton in Maharashtra is around 10 million quintal as against tall claim of 35 million quintal.
Why is cotton procurement falling three years in a row in rural Vidarbha ?
Are GM scientists and global research laboratories coming forward to help the Vidarbha Cotton farmers with more Research and Development investments into raising production levels of Bt Cotton ?
If they are, Vidarbha farmers have not heard from them.
Cotton Procurement Breakdown :
1. Maharshtra state govt: Cotton Federation : 3.5. Million quintals at rate of Rs. 1,780/- Per Quintal. on an average.
2. Central government Agency CCI ( Cotton Corporation. Of India) : 1.5 million Quintal.
3. Private Traders : 5 million Quintal ( private traders purchased at less than state guaranteed price againsts farmer loans and debt at the throwaway prices).

Annual Cotton Procurement Figures in Maharashtra :
1. 2004-2005 - 18 million quintal
2. 2005-2006 - 14 million quintal
3. 2006-2007 - 10 million quintal

In the face of falling production levels, the very high cost repeat inputs, falling market prices, and high risk BT cotton farming, has made whole Vidarbha rural economy susceptible to predatory interventions by Indian cotton industry which has been registering rising profits and export figures to US and European markets against Chinese competition and riding the crest of booming exports under WTO regime.
See Indian Cotton Export Figures to US
It is estimated that 1.7 million cotton farmers have been exposed to market risk by Bt Cotton approvals by Indian government. There exist no safety mechanisms and official government methods for intervention mechanisms in arresting GM cotton crop failures and compensating farmers and Vidarbha rural economy.
The Relief commissioner Shri Sudhir Kumar Goyal, pressed into media firefighting, by Congress politicians, is shedding crocodile tears, and has been reported to have rhetorically claimed, that "no government on earth can subsidize 60% of its farmers".

But who is subsidizing whom, is the question not being asked.
Is rural India subsidizing urban India, or is urban Indian economy, subsidizing rural Indian economy ?