Centre for Sustainable Agriculture: High incidence of disease & pests in Bt Okra Print E-mail
The Financial Express -- New Delhi -- December 28, 2005
NGOs unearth non-transparency in GM Crops field trials
High incidence of pests in Bt Okra 

ASHOK B SHARMA

NEW DELHI, DEC 27:  The Hyderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) has found high incidence of several diseases and pest on Bt Okra under field trials in Narakoduru village in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.
  
The CSA team led by Gangadhar Vagmare, Ram Prasad and Kavitha Kuruganti found incidence of bacterial leaf spot, cercospora leaf spot, yellow vein mosaic, spotted bollworm, powdery mildew, spodoptera, jassids, aphids and white fly on Bt Okra developed by Mahyco. The CSA team noted that so far there had been four sprays of pesticide as per the admissions made by the farmer and a employee of Mahyco.

Field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops in India have always been shrouded  in secrecy and mystery  Such field trials are usually not publicly declared. This gives almost no opportunity to the general public about the on-the-spot spot verification of the required biosafety norms to be followed and the accuracy of the data to be generated on basis of the trials.

Ms Kuruganti said that the CSA team visited the field of a farmer, Ardula Koteswara Rao in Narakoduru village in Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh.  She said : "This is probably the first time since 2001-02 that a GM food crop is being tested in a farmer's field rather than in greenhouses and campuses of companies and agri-research institutes."

The trial is being conducted on a 40-cent plot leased in from the farmer by Mahyco. The farmer has been paid Rs 7000 as lease rent, she said and added : "the local farmer's body, Rythu Sangam has already begun protesting against the field trial which is violating all biosafety norms. The farmer was not informed that the company would conduct trials of a GM food crop."

The CSA team has reported that the concerned farmer and his family consumed the untested and not-yet-cleared-for-safety Bt Okra from the trial plots at least twice, without knowning the consequences. The CSA team reported a series of violation of biosafety norms

The CSA team noted that the sowing began on August 7, 2005 as per Mr Brahma Raju, an employee of Mahyco. The seeds were first grown in nursery bags and later transplanted. The transplanting took place quite late in the season as compared to the usual sowing time, according to the farmer.