|New disease spreading through Bt cotton in India (19/7/2006)|
A senior agriculture scientist Dr Qayum, formerly the Joint Director of Agriculture of the Government of the state of Andhra Pradesh, reports that "a peculiar symptom of middle order leaves exhibiting necrotic spots" is turning up in Bt cotton. This disease has never appeared in cotton in the area before. This is not the first novel disease brought on by Bt cotton.
EXCERPT: Last year there were wide spread complaints that Bt cotton had invited Tobacco Streak Virus, a disease which had never been seen on cotton plants in the history of the crop in this region.
PRESS RELEASE, July 18, 2006
To, The Editor
Alarm bells are ringing for the Bt cotton farmers once again. Buoyed by the government decision to control Bt seed prices nearly 100% more farmers planted Bt cotton this year. But the early results are nothing but scary.
A new disease appears to be spreading for Bt cotton in the districts of Nalgonda and Rangareddy. A senior agriculture scientist Dr Qayum [who retired as the Joint Director, Agriculture of the AP Government] who toured these areas reports that "a peculiar symptom of middle order leaves exhibiting necrotic spots" is visible in Bt cotton that was planted early. Never before has this disease appeared in cotton.
This might turn out to be fatal for Bt cotton plants. Last year there were wide spread complaints that Bt cotton had invited Tobacco Streak Virus, a disease which had never been seen on cotton plants in the history of the crop in this region. Similarly there have been widespread reports that the soils on which Bt cotton has been planted have been showing early symptoms of toxicity. Last year the news that over 1500 sheep grazing on Bt cotton had died had sent chill down the spine of plant toxicologists. The APCID which has been researching Bt cotton in Warangal District since the last four years had written to the officers of the Veterinary Department with evidences of goats and other animals who had grazed on Bt cotton dying of toxicity.
Now the new symptom which according to Dr Qayum might be a "complex of Tobacco Streak Virus and Necrosis" is becoming visible in Nalgonda and Rangareddy Districts. With the delay in rains compounding the problem, farmers are panicking the area.
In view of this the APCID demands that the Government immediately order a scientific inquiry into the disease from the scientists of Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University as well as invite scientists from the Central Institute for Cotton Research and get to the truth of the matter. Bt cotton plant is a toxic plant by definition because it continuously produces its own pesticide at least for 90 days of the plant growth. To make people believe that this has no effect on soil, human, animal and environmental health is one of the crudest lies offered to the farming community. If the lie is perpetuated in the same fashion year after year, Bt cotton could be another major reason for farmer suicides in the state.
[p v satheesh]