|Bt cotton spells doom for cattle (4/3/2007)|
1."Bt Cotton Poisoning" now reported by Animal Husbandry dept officials - Kavitha Kuruganti
EXTRACT: Grazing on residual Bt cotton crop seems to have resulted in the death of over 200 animals... The Animal Husbandry Department has sounded an alarm as the number of sick animals with somewhat classic poisoning symptoms has kept increasing.
"In all the cases where animals were treated for suspected Bt cotton poisoning, the animals showed symptoms like convulsions, nasal discharge, vomiting, respiratory problems and diarrhoea," K. Shravan Kumar, veterinary assistant surgeon, said. (item 2)
1."Bt Cotton Poisoning" now reported by Animal Husbandry dept officials
So far, reports on livestock morbidity and mortality came from civil society groups including shepherd unions and the government discounted such reports consistently, other than making admissions here and there (including in the Parliament) under pressure.
For the first time, we have reports from the Animal Husbandry department officials from Adilabad district. If they are reporting 200 deaths so far, the actual mortality would be much higher and morbidity even higher. When will the GEAC and the DBT sit up and do a proper investigation? When will the GEAC and the DBT [India's GM regulators] sit up and do a proper investigation? Is this country incapable of doing a systematic, scientific study on what is the phenomenon here by quickly constituting a team to design a sound framework for the study and then go about implementing it?
It is also learnt that the issue of livestock deaths after grazing on Bt cotton came up in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly yesterday and the Animal Husbandry department responded that they have no such reports reaching them! How can that be when their own officials are recording the phenomenon in the districts and warning farmers not to graze their animals on Bt Cotton? How can that be when representatives of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and AP [Andhra Pradesh] Goatherds' & Shepherds' Union met with senior officials in the Animal Husbandry department in the month of February 2007, gave them our preliminary assessment report from a couple of villages and demanded immediate action?
The phone numbers of the Director, Animal Husbandry department are 040-23316855 and 23316848. The scientist who investigated the phenomenon last year too, after the Director-AH ordered an investigation is one Dr Sudarshan Rao, Animal scientist, Veterinary Biological Research Institute [VBRI], a public sector agency: +91-94-408-10709. It is the same institute which is supposed to have received the samples from the dept veterinarians from Adilabad this year for further investigations.
2.Bt cotton spells doom for cattle?
[image caption: NOTHING TO CHEER ABOUT - Cattle grazing on the residual Bt cotton crop in Gudihatnoor mandal]
ADILABAD: Grazing on residual Bt cotton crop seems to have resulted in the death of over 200 animals in various mandals of the district in the last two months. The Animal Husbandry Department has sounded an alarm as the number of sick animals with somewhat classic poisoning symptoms has kept increasing.
It is a practice among the farming community, especially in the cotton-intensive areas, to use residual crops as fodder. As the area under Bt cotton had increased substantially this year, large tracts under the crop were available for use as fodder after harvesting ended in December-January.
Acute in many mandals
"In all the cases where animals were treated for suspected Bt cotton poisoning, the animals showed symptoms like convulsions, nasal discharge, vomiting, respiratory problems and diarrhoea," K. Shravan Kumar, veterinary assistant surgeon, said.
The problem is acute in mandals like Tamsi, Bazarhatnoor, Sirpur(U), Gudihatnoor, Talamadugu and Bela. A. Vinod, veterinary assistant surgeon at Tamsi, said the problem came to their notice in January. "We are opting for symptomatic treatment so long as the 'culprit' toxic substance is not identified. Timely treatment can save a few animals in our mandal," he said.
"Another bullock died in Talamadugu recently. We have sent the extracted feed material after a post-mortem on the animal and leaves, stem and other material from the suspected plants for analysis at the Veterinary Biological Research Institute in Hyderabad," Y. Sanjiv Reddy, veterinary assistant surgeon at Talamadugu, said.
Having noticed similar deaths of sheep from other districts, the Animal Husbandry Directorate issued a circular this month to veterinary hospitals asking them to send relevant material for analysis. "However, it needs more than an analysis to curb the occurrence of animal deaths due to suspected poisoning," a veterinarian observed.