Andhra guns for GM / Bt cotton feeding Monsanto greed (9/6/2006)

2 excellent articles

1.Andhra guns for GM
2.BT cotton feeding Monsanto greed: Indian NGOs

1.Andhra guns for GM
Chetan Chauhan
The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, June 9, 2006,0035.htm

India is the new battleground for the fight against genetically modified (GM) crops. And this time it is the Andhra Pradesh government, and not just NGOs, who have taken the lead.

On Friday, the state will host a meeting of agriculture ministries from seven cotton-growing states to push for a drive against MNC Monsanto for its high cost of BT Cotton seeds. One of its demands is that the company should insure farmers against any crop failure from BT Cotton seeds. Several studies in Andhra and Maharashtra show failure of BT Cotton on the economic and yield-front, said P V Satheesh, Convenor of AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity.

As the BT Cotton fight rages, NGOS like Greenpeace and Centre for Substainable Agriculture (CSA) have started a campaign against Bt Brinjal, allowed by the environment ministry for field trials. BT Brinjal is the first modified brinjal in the world.

"Only 15 days have been given for public feedback. The ministry has not given any test results of DNA modification. This haste is inexplicable," Kavita Kuruganti of CSA said.

2.BT cotton feeding Monsanto greed: Indian NGOs
Source: The Pioneer

As Agriculture ministers from seven states of the country are meeting in Hyderabad to discuss the issue of BT seeds, a non-government organisation campaigning against genetically modified seeds has demanded a ban on BT seeds in India.

The AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity (APCDD) and South Against Genetic Engineering (SAGE) have said the exorbitant price of BT seeds was not the only issue that needs attention.

"What we urge you to discuss is the issue why Bt cotton should not be banned from India? What is it that we are going to lose if we do so except for saving the royalty adding up to of billions of rupees that Monsanto collects for its Bt gene and ploughs back into the United States of America? Is it right for us to make the poor Indian farmer pay for the greed of one of the most profit hungry multinational?", said PV Satheesh, the convenor of the two organisations in a letter addressed to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

The letter was also addressed to the state agriculture minister N Raghuveera Reddy.

The meeting of the agriculture ministers of seven BT cotton growing states assumes significance in view of the successful fight waged by the Andhra Pradesh government against Monsanto to bring down the price of its BT cotton seeds.

On a petition filed by state government, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTPC) had held that the seed companies, particularly Monsanto Mahyco Biotec Ltd, have been adopting restrictive trade practices in the country and imposing unreasonable royalty of Rs 900-per 450 gram of Bt cotton seed.

The Monsanto's BT cotton seeds were being sold for a very high price of Rs 1,600 per 450 grams.

But the MRTP's ruling brought down it to about Rs 750.

Monsanto had challenged it in the Supreme Court but the court had refused to intervene in the matter.

Congratulating the Andhra Pradesh government for its historic fight against Monsanto, PV Sateesh said the meeting of the ministers was welcome news as there was a general understanding among the various Indian states that the enormously usurious rates of Bt seeds were robbing the Indian farmers of their small gains.

But he warned that the cultivation of the Bt crops will have calamitous impact on the Indian agriculture.

At least a thousand farmers, if not more, have committed suicide after growing Bt cotton in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra as well as in Karnataka, he said.

Quoting independent scientific studies, PV Sateesh said BT seeds had failed on all the fronts and all the promises.

There has been no reduction in the use of pesticides and pests were developing resistance in the country forcing farmers to use more toxi sprays, and there has been no increase in the yield by the BT seeds.

He also cautioned that soils on which BT cotton was cultivated were becoming reservoirs of pathogens causing a root rot disease and also causing health problems to the people.

Source: The Pioneer


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