More on Monsanto's compensation of Bt cotton farmers in India (13/2/2007)

1.Minister gives compensation to farmers
2.Solatium given to ryots affected by 'BT' cotton

We recently noted that Monsanto had finally paid some compensation to farmers in India for the failure of Bt cotton.

Now Jai Krishna of Greenpeace India has sent us further comment on the pay outs in Tamil Nadu.

He points out that the compensation only came about "because of the animosity created during the destruction of the GE rice field trial in Coimbatore on November 10th and the subsequent failures of Bt cotton in the state of Tamil Nadu."

Jai Krishna also notes the way news coverage has been carefully spun:

"Note the fact that the news is underplayed: it does not contain the figure of Rs.63,58,000. This along with the previous news of compensation in salem, for 9.86 lakhs makes it the one of the highest compensation ever accepted by Mahyco (read Monsanto) for bt cotton losses since the first time it introduced bt cotton in 2002, a sum of Rs. 73,44,000 ( 7.3 million rupees)."

Jai Krishna also notes that "even the name Mahyco is not present" and there have also been attempts to blame the problems on the soil condition, "making the compensation from Mahyco appear like an act of philanthrophy".

1.Minister gives compensation to farmers
Staff Reporter The Hindu, 10 Feb 2007

Dharmapuri: Minister for Agriculture Veerapandi S. Arumugam on Thursday distributed compensation to 996 farmers whose crop was damaged after using transgenic seeds of a multinational company.

Participating in a function at Bommidi near here the Minister said 996 farmers who took up cotton cultivation on 1271.60 acres of land in Bommidi and Pappireddipatti areas suffered crop loss. Thanks to the initiative of the State Government the seed firm offered compensation of Rs. 5,000 per acre, Mr Arumugam said. The Minister asked agriculture officials to educate farmers on modern cultivation methods, proper utilisation of fertilizers and pest management while using transgenic seeds.

He asked farmers to make use of various government schemes. Collector Pankaj Kumar Bansal said the Government had allotted Rs. 19 crore to be provided as subsidy for drip irrigation to farmers.

He asked the farmers to adopt effective water management practices to increase their crop yield.

in tune with nature

2.Solatium given to ryots affected by 'BT' cotton
New India Express, January 29 2007

SALEM: Even as a debate over adoption of GE (Genetically Engineered) crops rages, Mahyco, one of the frontrunning BT cotton dealers in India, has given solatium to farmers affected by cultivation of BT cotton.

For the first time in the state, Mahyco distributed solatium to the tune of Rs 9.86 lakh to 88 of the 125 affected farmers of Omalur and Kadayampatty areas during a function held in Poosaripatty near Omalur on Sunday.

More than a month ago, about 125 farmers of Omalur and the adjoining Kadayampatty complained of huge loss due to the cultivation of BT cotton seeds, supplied by Mahyco, in over a 198 acres of field.

Subsequently, several NGOs and environmental groups conducted field studies there.

Following the farmers complaints, media reports and the instructions of State Agriculture Minister Veerapandy S Arumugam, TNAU scientists conducted studies to find the causes for the failure of Mahyco supplied BT cotton seeds in the region.

In the mean time, the State Government held negotiations with Mahyco and convinced them to pay Rs 5,000 per acre as solatium to the affected farmers.

Accordingly, Arumugam distributed Rs 9.86 lakh compensation to 88 ryots on Sunday.

The rest of the farmers would be paid within two days, officials assured.

Arumugam advised TNAU officials and Mahyco staff to extend necessary technical and intellectual support to the farmers before they started cultivation.

He also warned TNAU scientists and extension wing officials of stern action if they failed to allay the fears of the farmers about BT cotton seeds.

As regards the impact of BT seeds in Omalur and its surrounding areas, Arumugam, citing the TNAU report, said variation in soil condition was the main reason for failure of BT seeds, which were subjected to thorough research by the TNAU and subsequently approved by the State.

The minister also handed over five vehicles worth Rs 21.25 lakh to Seed Certification Officers of Salem, Coimbatore, Trichirapalli, Madurai and Vellore.

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