Bt cotton crop infested by unusual pest, scientist warns / Record farmer suicides / Big business for lobbyists (20/7/2006)

1.Bt cotton crop infested by unusual pest

1.Bt cotton crop infested by unusual pest

19th July 2006
To: The Honorable Minister for Agriculture
Department of Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh

Respected Sir,

Sub: Cotton crop in AP infested by unusual pest during this Kharif

I Abdul Qayum, formerly Joint Director – Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh has been working as a researcher on Bt Cotton for the last four years with regular and extensive visits to the cotton farms in the districts of Warangal, Adilabad and Nalgonda.

Right now I am witnessing an unusual pest, which is rapidly infesting the cotton crop sown in early and middle of June 2006. It may be virus alone or virus and other pest complex. This is a matter of great urgency and I wish to bring it to your kind notice for whatever action you deem fit.

During my study visit on 11th July to the village cholleru (about 10 km northeast of Bhongir), and to Devunupallygudem village of Podur mandal, Rangareddy District on 15th July, I have noticed that the pest infests from the mid-point between two adjacent lobes of cotton leaf, which later turns necrotic [dies]. Leaves are getting mutilated. Several farmers opined that this disease spread is across their villages, which have largely sown Rasi-Bt 2 hybrid. Farmers are increasingly getting worried at the future of their crop. This disease coming on top of the severe drought like conditions experienced at the very seeding stage has come as a big blow to the farmers.

This infestation immediately needs a thorough investigation on its future impact on cotton production, variable status of soil borne pathogens, its mode of spread, source and preferred host varieties/hybrids.

I therefore request you to kindly address all the concerned to take up the investigation at the earliest.

Thanking you
M.Abdul Qayum
Agricultural Scientist and Consultant, APCID.


There have been a record number of suicides in Maharashtra's cotton growing belt of Vidarbha in the last fornight than for any comparable period in the last decade.

The local campaigning group on behalf of distressed farmers in the area - VIDARBHA JAN ANDOLAN SAMITI - has consistently reported that Bt cotton - much hyped by Monsanto and elements in both local and national government - has directly contributed to the farmer distress and endebtedness that is fuelling the suicides. They have also reported that the majority of farmers taking their own lives over the past year - now around 680 - have been farmers who grew Bt cotton.

The Prime Minister of India's recent visit to the area and the relief package he announced do not appear to have helped. They have been dismissed by VIDARBHA JAN ANDOLAN SAMITI as mere "distress tourism" with none of the money going directly to relieve farmer distress. (MAXIMUM SUICIDE IN A FORTNIGHT AFTER PRIME MINISTER'S FUTILE PACKAGE ANNOUNCEMENT, VJAS, NAGPUR-20TH JULY-2006)

There are, however, those making money out of the current India-US nukes & biotech push (see below), which includes the US-India agriculture initiative, which Monsanto is helping to guide.

AKI, Italy, 20 July 2006

New Delhi, 20 July (AKI/Asian Age) - The US-India civilian nuclear energy deal has generated big business in the United States, with lobbyists earning a fortune from the Manmohan Singh government and the Indian-American community to push the deal through Congress. A Washington Post report, quoting filings with the US justice department, has pointed out that former US ambassador to India Robert D. Blackwill went to work for Barbour Griffith Rogers LLC, which was hired last August by the Indian government for an annual fee of $700,000. The controversial deal will give India access to US nuclear technology.

Blackwill has emerged as a strong lobbyist for India and the nuclear deal and during his stint with the company has written several articles on US-India relations which have appeared in newspapers around the world. He has written on the "US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement" for an Indian newspaper, on "US-India Ties" for a Gulf newspaper and, more recently, on "The Transformation of US-India Relations" for Politique Americaine. Barbour Griffith, according to the Washington Post report, also received $520,000 from the Confederation of Indian Industry last September.

Two powerful lobbying groups for the nuclear deal are the US-India Business Council and the US Indian Political Action Committee. These have been patronised by the top echelons of the Indian government, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, finance minister P. Chidambaram, petroleum minister Murli Deora and commerce minister Kamal Nath among the list of invitees and speakers.

The US-India Business Council, which was formed in 1975 and consists of 180 companies, now describes itself as "the principal interlocutor for American industry operating in India." It includes the lobbyists Vickery International and Barbour Griffith; as well as Monsanto, the seeds giant now involved in the US-India agriculture initiative; Lockheed Martin, which is now vying for defence contracts with India; Wal-Mart, which is poised to enter the Indian agriculture sector along with Coca-Cola, IBM, Sony, Microsoft and a host of other multinationals.

The Washington-based US Indian Political Action Committee has in turn been organising fund-raising events for specific US legislators, with the list including Tom Lantos and Richard G. Lugar.

The meeting with Tom Lantos was organised on May 18 just before the House International Relations Committee was getting ready to discuss the bill on the nuclear deal. The committee describes him as "one of the influential Democrats who could help to win the (US) Congress over to support the nuclear deal."

The committee accepts members who have contributed a minimum of $5,000 a year and claims to generate exclusive invitations for events such as power breakfasts and lunches around Capitol Hill.

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