EXCERPT: Among the leading farmers' organisation to call for a ban on Bt cotton was the ruling Congress Partys outfit, Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS). Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary, executive chairman, BKS, said: "Bt cotton cultivation has placed farmers into heavy losses in the past three years."
Farm bodies seek ban on Bt cotton cultivation
ASHOK B SHARMA
Financial Express, September 24, 2005
NEW DELHI, SEPT 23: Leading farmers' organisations have demanded a ban on Bt cotton and a moratorium on any further approval of genetically modified (GM) crops for commercial cultivation.
They cautioned the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) not to do anything that would put the livelihood of millions of farmers in jeopardy. The NCF, headed by Dr MS Swaminathan, had convened a meeting of farmers' organisations and some individual farmers from across the country on Thursday to discuus formulation of a separate National Biotechnology Policy.
Among the leading farmers' organisation to call for a ban on Bt cotton was the ruling Congress Partys outfit, Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS). Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary, executive chairman, BKS, said: "Bt cotton cultivation has placed farmers into heavy losses in the past three years. Three varieties of Monsanto's Bt cotton failed miserably in Andhra Pradesh. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had to ban its cultivation in Andhra Pradesh on receiving adverse reports from the state government and farmers. The GEAC also banned the cultivation of Monsanto's Mech-12 Bt in entire South India."
He said that based on the experiences of Bt cotton cultivation in the past three years, the GEAC should not have approved any new transgenic varieties as demanded by the farmers. But unfortunately, bowing to the pressures from the industry, GEAC approved 13 new Bt cotton varieties for the current season, he said and added that these new varieties are also not performing well.
P Chengal Reddy of Industry-Farmers Alliance, however, said that GM crops hold out better prospects for farmers. He called for setting up of an autonomous regulator for GM crops, greater allocation for research on GM crops in public sector and public-private partnership. [for more on reddy see http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=108 ]
Vijay Javandhia of Shetkari Sangathan said that the government should encourage development and improvement of tradtional varieties of crops instead of introducing GM crops. Mahender Singh Tikait, president of Bharatiya Kisan Union, said that the farmers are not in a position to buy hybrid seed each year at high price and the seed companies should not be allowed to produce hybrid seeds.
The BKS leader, Dr Chaudhary called for immediate compensation to Bt cotton growers. He alleged that Monsanto is reluctant to pay the minimum level of compensation determined by the Andhra Pradesh government. He said in future the the extent of losses should be determined jointly by the farmers and panchayat leaders at the farm level and the compensation so determined should be paid at the farm level. He alleged there are reports that GM crops have caused pollen flow to other crops in different countries. It has also created health and environmental hazards.
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