Andhra Pradesh: Activists welcome ban on Bt cotton
Further to the news of May 4 that India's regulatory authority, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), had disallowed commercial cultivation
of three varieties of Mahyco-Monsanto’s Bt cotton hybrids in Andhra Pradesh, comes further inspiring news that "government has been urged to see that stocks of the banned seeds be destroyed".
With heartiest congratulations to Satheesh and colleagues at the Deccan Development Society and the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity on their successful campaign. See Satheesh's comments on the GSN blog and with special thanks to Akhila from the Deccan Herald for her efforts in keeping the campaign's developments in the public domain - Lynette
Friday May 6 2005
Activists welcome ban on Bt cotton in AP From R Akhileshwari DH News Service Hyderabad:
On the fear that the banned seeds may yet find their way into the market, the government has been urged to see that their stocks are destroyed.
The anti-Bt Cotton activists have welcomed the decision of the Government of India not to give permission for the commercial cultivation of three Bt hybrids developed by Monsanto, in Andhra Pradesh.
"The decision of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Government of India is great news... It is in the interests of small and marginal farmers," said P V Satheesh, convenor of the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity, which has been at the forefront of opposition to Bt Cotton for the last three years.
The Coalition said that the Centre's decision was evidently based on a report of the AP government which was opposed to permitting the continued commercial cultivation of Bt Cotton in AP, since Bt Cotton farmers had incurred heavy losses. "We congratulate the (AP) government for this truly pro-farmer and pro-poor act," said Mr Satheesh.
The Coalition has expressed apprehension that Mahyco-Monsanto might release the banned seeds into the market clandestinely and has urged the AP government to ensure that this does not happen.
It has said that the AP government should order the companies to destroy - in the presence of officials and farmer groups - the stock of one lakh packets maintained by the companies in anticipation of getting permission for Bt cultivation.
The government should declare that anyone dealing with the banned seeds would be liable for legal action, said Mr Satheesh. The government should also take up a campaign among farmers not to purchase the banned seeds, not only because they are illegal but also because they go against farmer's interests.
According to the Seeds Dealers Welfare Association, Mahyco-Monsanto has collected advances of about Rs 10 crores as advances from dealers to market its varieties of Bt cotton, which are three-five times more expensive than other hybrids.
Reacting to the permission given by GEAC to two varieties of Mahyco-Monsanto's MRC 6322 and MRC 6918, the coalition said, given the track record of Monsanto in promoting "failed varieties" and misleading farmers on the gains, the Coalition said Mahyco-Monsanto should reveal sites of trial fields of these two varieties and the farmers involved so that independent scientists could visit the field trial sites and verify the truth for themselves. The Coalition took on the mighty Monsanto in Andhra Pradesh and campaigned against the Bt Cotton for the three years it was cultivated. A path-breaking study that tracked the farmers experiences for three years showed that Bt Cotton had failed to deliver on every single promise made by Mahyco-Monsanto - that Bt Cotton would require less pesticides, and yield more than the traditional hybrids, resulting in huge profits to farmers.
Satheesh's response can be read here