Blanket ban on GM cotton seeds urged (16/6/2007)

1.Maharashtra: President hears woes of Bt cotton farmers' wives
2.Andhra Pradesh: Bt Cotton-2 not allowed
3.Punjab: Costly Bt cotton wilts in heat wave

EXTRACTS: The memorandum urged the President to... stop the trials and sale of the Bt cotton seeds in dry land. (item 1)

A number of farmers have suffered losses as they had spent a significant amount on Bt cotton seeds and fertilisers. (item 2)

The Minister also clarified that there was no permission for any company to sell Bt Cotton-2 varieties in the State. He urged the farmers not to fall prey to the marketing tactics of seed companies. (item 3)


1.Kalam hears woes of ryots' wives
Arunkumar Bhatt
The Hindu, June 16 2007

*Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti presents memorandum *Memorandum seeks blanket ban on BT cottonseeds

YAVATMAL: It was a poignant scene at the airport here on Friday.

A delegation of the wives of farmers who committed suicide in distress, met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Friday.

The women wept while narrating their plight. A sympathetic Mr. Kalam enquired if they had benefited from the government packages. They replied in the negative.

Mr. Kalam delayed his departure to interact with the wives and activists of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti who have been working hard to salvage Vidarbha's sinking agrarian economy, particularly that of the cotton growers, who are committing suicide by hundreds every year.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his Cabinet colleagues were not present during the interaction, according to a spokesperson of the Samiti.

"Contrary to our fears, the President was well aware of the situation and questioned the women while reading the memorandum presented to him," Samiti leader Kishore Tiwari told The Hindu .

The President even chided officials who tried to hurry him up.

Mr. Kalam spent nearly 25 minutes with the women, who told him that their condition had further deteriorated and they were unemployed. They even blamed the BT Cotton for their plight. "We told him that the yield of the BT cotton was as low as 50 kg per acre and pointed out how claims about its usefulness were false," Mr. Tiwari said.

"I am disturbed"

He quoted Mr. Kalam as saying, "I am disturbed and will raise the matter with the officers concerned at the Centre and the State." Among other issues, the memorandum blamed "uncontrolled and unrestricted sale of spurious seeds" for the distress and sought a blanket ban on BT cottonseeds in the dry land farming areas. It also demanded a ban on misleading advertisements the BT cottonseeds.

The memorandum urged the President to invoke the constitutional provisions and seek an explanation from the Government on the hopeless situation of the farmers and direct it to provide food and healthcare to the families besides implementing the provisions of the Seeds Control Order, 1983, for immediate quality control of seeds input and stop the trials and sale of the BT cotton seeds in dry land.


2.Govt plans to enact law to control cotton seed prices: Minister
New India Express, June 12 2007


WARANGAL: Agriculture Minister N Raghuveera Reddy has said that the State Government is contemplating to enact a law for controlling cotton seed prices in the state.

Participating in a rytu sadassu at Jangaon in the district, the minister warned the dealers of stern action if they continue to sell the cotton seed packet for more than Rs 750.

The Minister also clarified that there was no permission for any company to sell Bt Cotton-2 varieties in the State. He urged the farmers not to fell prey to the marketing tactics of seed companies.

Raghuveera Reddy clarified that there was no scarcity of cotton seeds in the State and the available stock was sufficient for about 37 lakh acres.

Major Irrigation Minister P Laksmaiah, ZP chairperson L Dhanwanthi, MLAs and MLCs also participated in the rytu sadassu.


3.Punjab cotton crop wilts in heat wave
Yarns and Fibers Exchange, 12 Jun 2007 - India

The cotton crop in Punjab is being severely affected by the intense heat wave in the north of India. After a good blooming period, reports of cotton crop drying up in Mansa and Bathinda districts have begun to trickle in.

A number of farmers have suffered losses as they had spent a significant amount on Bt cotton seeds and fertilisers. They would not be able to sow it again because it is too late now.

The state agriculture department is yet to start a survey to find the area of cotton crop hit by the heat wave. According to reports, cotton plants had been damaged on hundreds of acres in the past four days due to unprecedented rise in mercury.

Lack of canal water supply coupled with unfit underground water for agriculture use in certain pockets of this belt have left the farmers with no other option but leave things to destiny. Moreover, with the irrigation department having begun repair of canals, which is a usual practice during this time of the year, water supply to the tail districts of the state has also been hit.

A farmer said even the canals in the area have been running dry for the past few days despite the fact that cotton growers needed water urgently to irrigate their fields. "Even power supply was erratic and sometime the voltage was too low to run tube wells."

Farmers of Talwandi Sabo area in Bathinda district had also lodged a complaint with the authorities about irregular water supply in canals.

Balwinder Singh Sidhu, director, agriculture, said that the government is worried about the cotton crop. "We have asked the farmers to give light irrigation but there is no water in some areas. At the same time, paddy cultivation, which begins from today, will also be hit as the demand for water will go up tremendously."

He added that the department had ensured that cotton belt would get adequate and regular canal water supply from April 18 onwards.

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