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Posts Tagged / Bt Cotton

  • Feb 14 / 2016
  • 0
Articles

Bt cotton Seed Prices and Royalties-issues of concern

Three hybrids of Bt cotton were introduced in India by Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMB) in 2002.  The prices were fixed at Rs. 1800 per packet of 450 g which can be used to sow in an acre.  In 2005 Rasi and Ankur seeds which also developed Bt cotton in license agreement with MMB also got approval for their Bt hybrid seeds.  The license agreementshow that the Indian companies which entered into the agreement have to pay upfront Rs. 50 lakhs and an amount annually fixed by MMB.  They were asked to pay Rs 1200 on every packet initially.

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech’s sublicense agreement has clauses which says any company entering into an agreement with MMB has to withdraw Cry1Ac (MON 531) based Bt cotton three years after the commercial approval of the Bollgard-II (with staked genes cry1Ac & cry2Ab (MON 15985) or five years after the first planting of the Bollgard-II.  the indian seed companies which have paid Rs. 50 lakh initially to aquire license and paid royalty (Rs. 1250 on every packet initially and now Rs. 150 for Bollgard-I) have to withdraw the single gene cry1Ac anyway by next year as per the license agreement.

In 2005 faced with the problem of price hike AP government sought the intervention of Monopoly and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (See box on Bt cotton,  Royalties and Seed Prices).

AP government requested the Commission to declare the agreement between Indian seed companies and MMB as void as it is leading to monopoly and increase in seed prices.  MMB maintained that it is not monopoly as other events (Nath seeds and JK agri genetics) were also approved.  However, since the royalty collected is higher the state government should take action to reduce it.  As there was no law to regulate the seed prices, AP state government used its power of granting trade licenses under Seed Control Order, 1983.  The prices of Bt cotton seed were fixed at Rs 750 a packet (450 gm) and Rs 925 in 2006 for Bt I and Bt II respectively. This was further reduced to Rs 650 and Rs 750 respectively in 2008.  As the Agreement between MMB and Indian Seed Companies continues to exist and they still have to pay the royalty as demanded by the company.

The industry quickly changed the recommendation from one packet (of 450 g to two packets of 450 g per acre) which quickly doubled their business. MMB was collecting royalty of Rs 150 and Rs 225 on Bollgard-I and Bollgard-II respectively.

In 2007, Central govt removed cotton seed from Essential Commodities act 1955. With this cotton seed could no longer be controlled through Seed Control Order, 1983 which draws its powers from Essential Commodities act 1955.  Seed industry argued that states do not have control over cotton seed prices and marketing and a case was filed in AP high court.  In this context, AP government came up with a special legislation called The Andhra Pradesh Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price) Act, 2007, quickly followed by other states The Gujarat Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price) Act, 2008 and The Maharashtra Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale price) Act, 2009.

As the state level laws are more stringent, industry could again get the cotton seed back into essential commodities act in 2008. In 2011 a case was filed in Gujarat High Court which declared Gujarat Cotton Seed Act 2008 as null and void as the cotton seed is back in essential commodities act. A similar case was filed in AP high court and Mumbai High court.  In 2013 Mumbai high court upheld the Maharashtra Cotton Seeds Act and said state government has powers to regulate the quality and prices of seeds in the state (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-10-01/news/42576338_1_seed-industry-mahyco-monsanto-biotech-seed-companies).  The seed industry has filed a case in the supreme court and the decision is still pending.

In 2010, the National Seed Association of India (NSAI), a body of seed companies association demanded that they should be allowed to increase the seed costs of bt cotton by Rs. 200/packet.  Their main argument is that ‘Farmers across the country earned Rs 25,000 crore, farmers in Andhra Pradesh realised Rs 4,000 crore after the introduction of Bt cotton. The farmers’ income, which was at Rs 16,000 in 2006, has increased to Rs 36,000 in 2009’.

In the mean time, as the state governments have not agreed to increase the prices, the industry started squeezing in the cotton seed producers.  From 2010 state governments started notifying the cotton seed procurement prices as well.  For example, vide G.O.Rt.No.199, A&C (FP.II) Dept., dated 4-3-2014 government of Andhra Pradesh has fixed the procurement of Bt cotton seed prices, over head costs, royalties and sale prices.

Source: G.O.Rt.No.199, A&C (FP.II) Dept., dated 4-3-2014

However, the MMB was collecting higher royalty and forcing the seed companies to pay the royalty.  The Indian seed companies has approached court to ask MMB to refund the excess royalty of Rs. 1300 crore.

This is challenged in the supreme court and in November, 2015 the central government has  issued notification that the cotton prices will be controlled by the centre here after (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-12-13/news/69006454_1_mahyco-monsanto-biotech-bt-cotton-national-seed-association). (http://www.livemint.com/Politics/wRfyEO4tnX65VSGqlCMR6J/Delhi-HC-sets-stage-for-price-controls-on-Bt-cotton-seeds.html)

In this context, our submission is

  1. Government should clarify the issue of royalties or trait fee in seeds as Indian Patent Act do not honor patents on living forms including seeds. This should be part of the new seed regulation which is pending before the parliament.  The government also should clarify on how long the royalties will continue as it is already 14 years since royalties on Bt I are collected and about 10 years on Bt II.
  2. The licence agreements between the MMB and Indian Seed Companies have to be regulated and cannot be termed as private as argued by the MMB.
  3. The seed prices and royalties have to be regulated government should come up with a clear policy like the Drug prices control order as the issue is not restricted to cotton seed alone.
  4. In the context where Central govt has already declared that certain bollworms have developed resistance to Bt cotton (against Bt I in 2009 and Bt II in 2015), the centre should also consider cancelling the license for marketing of these technologies.
  5. The centre can define guidelines and fix maximum retail price. The states should have the freedom to fix the prices below the MRP based on their situations.  It cannot be uniform price across the country as the situations vary.

 

other material

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/high-court-stops-nuziveedu-seeds-from-selling-bt-cotton-under-monsanto-brand/articleshow/51060790.cms

[1] ramoo@csa-india.org; 09000699702

  • Aug 26 / 2012
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Interviews, తెలుగు

దిగుబడులకు బీటీ దెబ్బ

http://www.andhrajyothy.com/EditorialShow.asp?qry=2012/aug/26/edit/26edit3&more=2012/aug/26/edit/editpagemain1&date=8/26/2012

ముఖాముఖి

జన్యుమార్పిడి పంటలపై మరిన్ని పరిశోధనలు, సరైన నియంత్రణ వ్యవస్థ లేకుండా ఫీల్డ్ ట్రయల్స్‌కు అనుమతించకూడదని పార్లమెంటరీ స్థాయీ సంఘం చేసిన సిఫార్సులపై దేశవ్యాప్తంగా చర్చ జరుగుతోంది. ఈ నేపథ్యంలో జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటలకు సంబంధించిన అంశాలపై పరిశ్రమవర్గాలు చెబుతున్న దానికి, పరిశోధనలలో తేలుతున్న నిజాలకు మధ్య చాలా వ్యత్యాసం కనిపిస్తుంది. ఈ నేపథ్యంలో జన్యుమార్పిడి పంటలకు సంబంధించిన వాస్తవాలు, భ్రమలపై అధ్యయనం చేస్తున్న ‘సెంటర్ ఫర్ సస్టేయనబుల్ అగ్రికల్చరల్’ సంస్థ ఎగ్జిక్యూటివ్ డైరక్టర్ జి.వి. రామాంజనేయులుతో ఈ వారం ముఖాముఖి..

బీటీ విత్తనాల వల్ల అనేక ప్రయోజనాలు ఉన్నాయని కంపెనీలు ప్రచారం చేస్తున్నాయి. కాని పరిశోధనలలో తేలుతున్న నిజాలు వేరే విధంగా ఉంటున్నాయి..?
బీటీ విత్తనాలు కరువు పరిస్థితులను కూడా తట్టుకొని నిలబడతాయని.. దిగుబడి ఎక్కువ వస్తుందని.. ఈ పంటలకు కలుపు మందులు వేయాల్సిన అవసరం లేదని.. పురుగులు ఎక్కువ రావనే ప్రచారం జరుగుతోంది. కాని ఈ ప్రచారం నిజం కాదు. బీటీ విత్తనాల వల్ల దిగుబడి బాగా పెరిగిందనేది పూర్తి అవాస్తవం. ఉదాహరణకు బీటీ పత్తిని తీసుకుందాం.

2001 నుంచి 2005 దాకా మన దేశంలో పత్తి దిగుబడి 78 శాతం పెరిగింది. దీనిలో కేవలం ఆరు శాతం విస్తీర్ణంలో మాత్రమే బీటీ విత్తనాలను వేశారు. ఇదే విధంగా 2006-11 సంవత్సరాల మధ్య చూస్తే- మొత్తం విస్తీర్ణం 80 శాతం పెరిగితే- దానిలో దిగుబడి రెండు శాతం పెరిగింది. ఈ రెండింటి «ఆధారంగా చూస్తే దిగుబడి పెరగటానికి బీటీ విత్తనాలు మాత్రమే కారణం కాదని అర్థమవుతుంది. అదనంగా సాగు కిందకు వచ్చిన భూమి పెరగటం మొదలైన ఇతర కారణాలు చాలా ఉన్నాయి.

వాస్తవానికి ప్రపంచవ్యాప్తంగా బీటీ విత్తనాలు వేసిన ప్రాంతాల్లో దిగుబడులు తగ్గిపోతున్నాయి. ఇక బీటీ విత్తనాలు పురుగులను తట్టుకుంటాయని చేస్తున్న వాదనలో కూడా నిజం లేదు. పురుగులు బీటీ విత్తనాలను తట్టుకొనే శక్తిని పెంచుకున్నాయి. మన ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్ ఉదాహరణనే తీసుకుంటే- గులాబీ రంగు తొలిచే పురుగును బీటీ పత్తి విత్తనాలు తట్టుకోలేకపోతున్నాయని మోన్‌శాంటోనే ప్రకటించింది. ఇదే విధంగా బీటీ విత్తనాలు కాయి తొలిచే పురుగులను కూడా తట్టుకోలేకపోతున్నాయి.

బీటీ పత్తికి సంబంధించి కంపెనీలు గుజరాత్‌ను ఒక రోల్ మోడల్‌గా ప్రచారం చేస్తూ ఉంటాయి. గుజరాత్‌లో నిజంగానే బీటీ పత్తి విజయం సాధించిందా?
గుజరాత్ ప్రభుత్వ నివేదికల ఆధారం చూస్తే పత్తి సాగు చేసే ప్రాంతం దాదాపు 45 శాతం పెరిగింది. అదనంగా సాగులోకి వచ్చిన ప్రాంతం 43 శాతం పెరిగింది. వీటికి తోడుగా హైబ్రీడ్ పత్తి వేసిన ప్రాంతం కూడా పెరిగింది. ఈ కారణాల వల్ల గుజరాత్‌లో దిగుబడి పెరిగింది తప్ప- బీటీ విత్తనాల వల్ల మాత్రమే కాదు. ఇక్కడ మనం ఒక విషయాన్ని తప్పకుండా చెప్పుకోవాలి. చాలా సార్లు జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటల వల్ల కలిగే ప్రయోజనాలను ప్రచారం చేసేవారు- తమ వద్ద ఉన్న సమాచారాన్ని పూర్తిగా అందించరు. తమకు అనుకూలంగా కనిపించే కొంత సమాచారాన్ని ఇస్తారు. దీనిని చూస్తే- అంతా సజావుగా ఉన్నట్లు అనిపిస్తుంది. కాని ఇది నిజం కాదు.

బీటీ వంకాయ ఫీల్డ్ ట్రయల్స్‌కు సంబంధించి పెద్ద వివాదం నడుస్తోంది కదా. దీని వెనకున్న కథ ఏమిటి?
బీటీ వంకాయ విత్తనాల వల్ల కలిగే దుష్ఫరిమాణాలను జాగ్రత్తగా అధ్యయనం చేయకుండా అనుమతించవద్దని ప్రభుత్వం ఏర్పాటు చేసిన నిపుణుల కమిటీ సిఫార్సు చేసింది. ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్‌తో సహా పది రాష్ట్రాలు బీటీ వంకాయ ఫీల్డ్ ట్రయల్స్‌ను అనుమతించబోమని ప్రకటించాయి. అయితే మనం ఇక్కడ ఒక విషయాన్ని గమనించాలి. జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటల వల్ల వచ్చే లాభనష్టాలను సమీక్షించటానికి మన దగ్గర సరైన నియంత్రణా వ్యవస్థ లేదు. ఉదాహరణకు బీటీ పత్తినే తీసుకుందాం. దీని లాభనష్టాలను 2005లో చివరి సారి సమీక్షించారు. ఆ తర్వాత ఎప్పుడూ మళ్లీ సమీక్ష జరగలేదు.

బీటీ పత్తి వల్ల అనేక దుష్ఫరిణామాలు ఏర్పడుతున్నాయని ఈ లోపులో అనేక పరిశోధనలు వచ్చాయి. ఉదాహరణకు వరంగల్ జిల్లాలో బీటీ పత్తి ఆకులు తిని పశువులు మరణించాయని కొన్ని పరిశోధనలు చెబుతున్నాయి. ఇలాంటి వాటిని ప్రభుత్వం వెంటనే పరిగణనలోకి తీసుకోవాలి. చాలా సార్లు ప్రభుత్వం ఈ చర్యలు తీసుకోదు. పైగా జన్యుమార్పిడి పంటలపై పరిశోధనలకు పెద్ద ఎత్తున నిధులను కేటాయించి, తామే పరిశోధనలు చేస్తామని ప్రకటిస్తోంది కూడా. ఈ మొత్తం వ్యవహారం వెనక పెద్ద పెద్ద కంపెనీల లాబీయింగ్ కూడా ఉంటుంది.

మన కన్నా ముందే కొన్ని దేశాలలో జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటల పరిజ్ఞానం ప్రవేశించింది కదా. వారి అనుభవాలేమిటి?
ప్రపంచంలో పన్నెండు దేశాల్లో మాత్రమే జన్యు మార్పిడి పంటలను వేస్తున్నారు. వారి అనుభవాలు కూడా అంత సంతృప్తికరంగా లేవు. అమెరికాలో తాజాగా చేసిన పరిశోధనలలో- ఈ పంటల వల్ల దిగుబడి బాగా తగ్గుతోందని తేలింది. అంతే కాకుండా ఈ పంటలను తట్టుకొనే చీడ పురుగులు తయారయ్యాయి. వీటిని సూపర్ వీడ్స్ అని పిలుస్తున్నారు.

దీనికి తోడు పేటెంట్స్ పేరిట మొత్తం విత్తన మార్కెట్ అంతా కొన్ని కంపెనీల చేతిలోకి వెళ్లిపోతుంది. ఈ ప్రక్రియ మన దేశంలో కూడా ప్రారంభమయింది. ఉదాహరణకు మన దేశంలో బీటీ పత్తి విత్తన మార్కెట్‌లో 98 శాతం మాన్‌శాంటో చేతిలోనే ఉంది. ఇక్కడ ఇంకో ఆశ్చర్యం కలిగించే విషయాన్ని చెబుతాను. బీటీ విత్తనాలకు సంబంధించిన అంశాలలో కంపెనీని ప్రభుత్వం నియంత్రించాలి. కాని పరిస్థితి ఆ విధంగా లేదు. చాలా సార్లు కంపెనీయే ప్రభుత్వంపై కేసులు పెట్టింది.

ఈ పరిస్థితిని చక్కదిద్దటానికి ఉన్న మార్గాలేమిటి?
ప్రత్యామ్నాయ వ్యవసాయ పద్ధతులపై ప్రభుత్వం శ్రద్ధ చూపించాలి. పరిశోధనలకు నిధులను కేటాయించాలి. పరిశోధనాశాలలకు అవసరమైన మౌలిక వసతులు కల్పించాలి. వీటిన్నింటితో పాటుగా నియంత్రణ వ్యవస్థను కట్టుదిట్టం చేయాలి. ఈ విత్తనాలకు సంబంధించిన అంశాలలో కొందరిని బాధ్యులను చేయాలి. ప్రస్తుతం ఈ పద్ధతి లేకపోవటం వల్ల ఇటు ప్రభుత్వం కాని, ఈ విత్తనాలను అనుమతించిన రెగ్యులేటర్ కాని, తయారు చేసిన కంపెనీ కాని బాధ్యత తీసుకోవటం లేదు. దీని వల్ల సామాన్య రైతులు నష్టపోతున్నారు.
– ఇంటర్వ్యూ : సి.వి.ఎల్.ఎన్. ప్రసాద్

  • Feb 18 / 2006
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Articles

Bt Cotton in India: Sustainable Pest Management?

Bt Cotton in India: Sustainable Pest Management?

Though there is a great deal of variability in the expected performance of Bt cotton depending on the environment, the regulation and marketing of the hybrids reflects a uniformity of approach that is inexplicable. Academic studies continue to talk of the importance of studying toxicity and monitoring resistance build-up even as initial resistance management plans at the farm level fail. It is clear that all possible options for managing bollworms have not been assessed before zeroing in on Bt cotton.

G V Ramanjaneyulu, Kavitha Kuruganti

Economic and Political Weekly, 18th February, 06

The debate on Bt cotton and its performance, on scientific claims and realities, and on the adoption of the technology by farmers should be seen in the larger context of the need for the country to adopt a sound pest management paradigm in agriculture. Any pest management technology that does not emulate nature’s way of managing insect populations as closely as possible is bound to be unsustainable. Such a pest management technology should clearly look at a pest complex and not a single pest (since there is a balance between pests maintained in the farm ecology and targeting only one pest, as in the case of Bt cotton, is itself problematic); it should understand the relation between monocultures and pests as well as diseases spread by pests, soil fertility management and pest/disease incidence, predatory-prey relationships between different living organisms and so on. Therefore, to hype up one technology based on the random insertion of a gene directed against one pest as the solution to the cotton production problems of this country is highly misleading. This is especially so when vulnerable cotton farmers are being lured towards expensively-priced technology on misleading and even false claims.

While technologies like pesticides and genetic engineering of the Bt gene are going to allow pests to ultimately select for resistance, they also bring with them a lot of risks which need to be carefully evaluated for their environmental, health, economic as well as social costs. No quick fix solutions will be in the interests of Indian farmers, whatever the initial adoption rate is. The adoption rate by a certain set of farmers is not always an indicator of the effectiveness or sustainability of the technology, as the story of pesticides has shown us. The ludicrousness of the situation is reflected in the fact that more and more, there is only talk about resistance management and not pest management, whether it is pesticides or the Bt technology.

The performance of Bt cotton in India has been extremely uneven right from the beginning (defying the very requirements of uniformity and stability needed for a seed to be released in the first instance) and this is clearly expected given the shortcomings of the technology. The efficacy of the technology is dependent on a lot of factors, including the actual expression of the toxin in the plant – for instance, in different parts of the plant, at various times of the crop season, in different eco-systems under different growing conditions, in different hybrids, in the baseline resistance of the target pests to the Bt toxin and depending on the availability of other host crops in the vicinity for the target pests, the other agronomical practices adopted by the farmers, weather conditions and so on. Therefore, a lot of variability exists in the expected performance based on the internal as well as external environment available to the plant and the gene cannot be shown to perform miracles irrespective of these varied situations.

However, the regulation as well as the marketing of Bt cotton hybrids in this country reflects a kind of “uniform application of decisions” which is inexplicable. Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), sitting in Delhi, allows Bt cotton hybrids to be grown in different zones irrespective of the differential baseline resistance levels of different bollworms to the Bt toxin, the presence or absence of alternate host crops, relative area of Bt cotton in a given region, the toxicity expressed by particular hybrids and so on. In Australia, for example, there was a 30 per cent cap on the area of Bt cotton within total cotton area as a resistance management measure. Lack of such precautions and allowing a large area of monoculture of Bt cotton meant that the crop has been made very vulnerable to pests and diseases this year, as reports emerging from various states indicate.

Decisions clearly do not even involve consultations in a decentralised manner, based on scientific evidence before regulators. Even if the GEAC at the centre gives environmental clearance to particular Bt cotton hybrids, the respective state governments do have the authority to provide or reject licences for marketing in the state. Academic studies meanwhile only talk about why it is important to study toxicity or susceptibility and monitor resistance build-up, without a mention of any sound resistance management plans, even though questionable initial resistance management plans at the farm level – in the form of refugia in each plot – are definitely not being implemented and failing. The proliferation of illegal Bt cotton all over the country certainly complicates the situation. It also shows that even if scientists do come up with resistance management plans, they will not be implemented at the ground level. This is one more reason for why we should go back to pest management, instead of resistance management.

Routine Studies?

It is in this overall context that Bt cotton and any scientific studies on it should be looked at, including the latest Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) study published in the July 25 edition of Current Science and the debate carried out in some sections of the media on the subject (for example, The Hindu, August 29, September 5 and 20, 2005). First of all, it is not clear how this can be termed a routine study, when the findings reflect what has been found elsewhere. The obvious questions that arise are: why were such routine studies not taken up before the approval of Bt cotton in India and would the decisions that were then taken have been any different. Are there similar studies on two other bollworms called spotted bollworm (E vittella) and pink bollworm (P gossypiella)? If so, what are this findings and why are such studies not available for public scrutiny? How have decisions been influenced based on this and other studies, given that inter-hybrid variability and baseline resistance variability across locations is really high in this country? Are recommendations actually being made based on different studies and are these studies based on different experiences emerging on the ground?

K R Kranthi in his September 5 response in The Hindu says that the article did not mention a “commonly known fact that majority of bollworm eggs are laid on leaves of the upper canopy and neonate larvae scrape and feed on the surface of the leaf….”. As experience over centuries shows, the ovi-position behaviour of the pest is an important factor in effective pest management and this cannot be brushed aside as an insignificant matter. Studies and observations, including a four-year “Helicoverpa scheme” in Andhra Pradesh, have shown that the fruiting parts (squares, bolls, flowers, etc) also harbour a large number of eggs amongst different plant parts. What is also interesting to note is that larval development in several studies is found to be significantly higher on squares, rather than leaves, indicating a certain level of migration within the plant. Further, discussing the effectiveness of Bt cotton against bollworm in the limited context of the current CICR study poses some constraints since the said paper does not study two other bollworms (other than American bollworm) – the spotted bollworm and pink bollworm. A literature search indicates that while eggs are laid on flower buds, brackets, tender leaves and on stalks of young green bolls, soon after emergence, the larvae enter flower buds, flowers and the bolls, especially in the case of pink bollworm. The literature indicates that since the female moth of the pink bollworm has greater longevity, it is able to await the development of fruiting bodies on young cotton plants before laying eggs. This raises fresh questions about the effectiveness of the technology, given that CICR’s own study points out to the sub-critical toxin production in these critical parts of the plant.

Implications for Biosafety

The fact that there is a high degree of variability (statistically significant) of two to sevenfold in the toxin expression across different hybrids also has serious implications for biosafety. In India, the preferred approach so far has been to assess biosafety only initially and for later releases, to assess only agronomic suitability. The CICR’s findings show that the toxin expression varies significantly across different hybrids into which the gene has been inserted, which means that there could be different biosafety implications for different hybrids. This brings into question the accepted premise of “an event approved once in a crop will not have to go through bio-safety tests for other varieties within the crop”.

Bt cotton is also lauded by scientists for its unmatched bio-safety profile. For civil society activists who have been asking for data that was initially produced on the bio-safety of Bt cotton in India, this is only rhetoric since no data is available for independent scrutiny. On the other hand, the field experiences of farmers put a question on the “unmatched bio-safety” of Bt cotton. For instance, there are many reports from Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh from farmers who are experiencing soil quality deterioration after growing Bt cotton. There are also reports of skin allergies from Bt cotton as well as adverse impacts on livestock feeding on Bt cotton. Such reports are not being investigated by concerned officials or scientists despite repeated requests.

While academic studies look at the variability of Bt toxin expression within a season, across hybrids and across different parts of the Bt cotton plant, the biggest shortcoming is that this has been done in recommended agronomic and crop management conditions, in the fields of a research institute campus. A true picture of farmers’ experience would have emerged if the study was conducted across seasons, locations as well as hybrids in real life conditions. The results would then have had more serious implications for the introduction of Bt cotton as “the best available option”. As farmers’ experience in India shows, the performance is extremely uneven within a season, across years, hybrids and locations. What’s worse, there are no accountability mechanisms for such uneven performance. Mahyco-Monsanto had to be prohibited from Andhra Pradesh when they failed to compensate farmers for losses.

We would like to point out from the experience of establishing non-pesticidal management (NPM) of crops very successfully on farmers’ fields on more than 10,000 acres across different districts of Andhra Pradesh and across many crops, that in India, all possible safer and effective options have not been assessed before zeroing in on Bt cotton as the answer. NPM, for instance, has been witnessed by senior agriculture scientists from ICAR bodies and ICRISAT, by well known social scientists and economists and by the agriculture minister of Andhra Pradesh who wanted it to be replicated with many more farmers. Their reviews indicate that there are certainly many more potent, sustainable and better options available for bollworm as well as other pest management.

Our analysis and experience shows that the CICR scientists as well as other scientists in India have to be more cautious before passing their positive verdicts on Bt cotton, lest we repeat the story of pesticides again. They should certainly put in more effort to study all other options available before making any categorical statements on the technology. NPM and organic farming methods for cotton are two such examples which have to be understood and supported better.

Email: kavitha_kuruganti@yahoo.com