The success of the GM-critical film, The Future of Food, has galvanised the biotech industry's PR machine into subsequently giving us:
* America's Heartland - the pending PBS TV series funded by the American Farm Bureau and Monsanto;
* Voices from Africa - a video supposedly produced by the African-American civil-rights (turned-corporate-rights) group CORE but, in fact, funded by its "corporate partner" - Monsanto - and directed and scripted by a film-maker who has worked on other Monsanto projects
And now: The Story of Bt Cotton in India.
This new documentary comes courtesy of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA). ISAAA's funders include Monsanto and just about every other major GM corporation.
ISAAA's multi-million dollar budget is matched by high-profile board members, past and present, such as Monsanto's Robert Fraley, Wally Beversdorf of Syngenta, and Gabrielle Persley, Executive Director of AusBiotech Alliance and advisor to the World Bank.
The article below informs us how, according to the new film, "Rapid strides made by India in cotton production in the last three years are nothing short of a dream run for any agrarian economy". The film implies that this is no accident as this period "also coincides with the adoption of Bt cotton".
Curious then that just last week the Indian government admitted that Bt cotton had failed in parts of India, and asked state governments in all cotton growing regions to institute enquiries.
In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, 3 types of Mahyco-Monsanto Bt cotton seeds have actually been banned because their performance has been so bad. In Madhya Pradesh, the Governor has asked the state government to look into the causes of the failure of Bt cotton in large parts of the State and has called for compensation for farmers.
Dogged by such adverse publicity, the industry is conducting an info-war against the "misconceptions and disinformation" which "continue to constrict the growth potential of this technology".
This documentary, which "clearly captures the way in which adoption of technology has transformed the outlook for growers", will be "translated into seven Indian languages for the benefit of those interested and shown widely in the cotton-growing belt across the country."
It thus forms part of an aggressive and deceptive promotion campaign for Bt cotton which has included everything from Bollywood stars to dancing girls, and which has even attracted the critical notice of India's National Commission on Farmers (NCF), which is headed by a long-time GM promoter - MS Swaminathan.
For the details of this PR campaign see the report - THE MARKETING OF BT COTTON IN INDIA: AGGRESSIVE, UNSCRUPULOUS AND FALSE
Documentary on Bt cotton busts myths
Business Line, 05 December 2005
Mumbai: Rapid strides made by India in cotton production in the last three years are nothing short of a dream run for any agrarian economy.
The period also coincides with the adoption of Bt cotton, the country's first genetically-modified (GM) crop. Yet, misconceptions and disinformation continue to constrict the growth potential of this technology.
A documentary film "The Story of Bt. Cotton in India" aimed primarily at placing the technology and policy context in perspective and produced by a team of experts headed by Bhagirath Choudhary of International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application was released at a national seminar on resurgence of cotton here recently.
While leading scientists, including Dr M.S. Swaminathan, are on record supporting adoption of GM technology, views elicited from cotton growers in several States, including Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, highlight their optimism about crop prospects and cost reduction.
On the regulatory regime, the documentary clearly brings out the position that as Bt cotton was the first biotech crop in the country, the Government followed strict monitoring and that various bio-safety tests were rigorously conducted prior to release.
Calculations show a profit of anything between Rs 7,000 and Rs 11,000 a hectare resulting from planting of Bt cotton, which demands less number of agro-chemical sprays.
The documentary clearly captures the way in which adoption of technology has transformed the outlook for growers.
According to Choudhary, the project took almost one year to complete and involved extensive travel (5,000 km) across the country to obtain first-hand impressions and views from stakeholders.
The documentary will be translated into seven Indian languages for the benefit of those interested and shown widely in the cotton-growing belt across the country.
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