Karnataka urged to halt BtCotton introduction
Farmers, environmentalists and agricultural scientists have written to the
Chief Minister S M Krishna, in the light of the Chinese findings
Bangalore, June 8, 2002:
Keeping in view the report from the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, that
serious pest attacks have resurfaced in “Bt transgenic cotton…(which) is in large-scale
commercial production in China...with planting area estimated to top 1.5 million
hectares last year, accounting for about 35 percent of the total cotton area”,
the undersigned have appealed to Sri. S. M. Krishna, Chief Minister of Karnataka,
to review his Government's decision to allow Bt Cotton cultivation in Karnataka.
The appeal urges the Government to carefully study the reports of Nanjing Institute
of Environmental Sciences, an agency of Chinese Government's State Environment
Protection Administration, and Cotton Research Institute under the Chinese Academy
of Agricultural Sciences, which has concluded that Bt Cotton caused serious ecological
disturbances and as a consequence the claims to productivity efficiencies are
fraught with high uncertainty. The Chinese proof that genetically modified crops
like Bt Cotton is a planned ecological disaster, confirms what environmentalists
have been warning about for years.
This appeal to Sri. Krishna is part of a serious effort amongst Indian environmental
groups, farmers associations and agricultural scientists all over the country
urging Chief Ministers to disallow Bt Cotton introduction in their states, keeping
in view wider public interest, especially the interest of farmers and local ecology,
and despite the clearance accorded to its introduction by the Union Ministry
of Environment and Forests. Similar appeals have been made to Chief Ministers
of the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Andhra
Pradesh, particularly keeping in view that the clearance to Bt Cotton introduction
in the country by the Ministry of Environment and Forests was highly controversial
as standards adopted for review were suspect, that Monsanto-Mahyco were actively
involved in lobbying for a favourable decision and scientific principles of review
were compromised in the process.
The appeal urges the Chief Minister to stay all introduction of Bt Cotton by
farmers till such time its ecological viability and safety for human/livestock
health are established beyond reasonable doubt. In this regard, the Chief Minister
has been urged to put much greater thrust into agricultural practices that are
inherently healthy and safe and keeping in view the Chinese experience with Bt
cotton, to lay emphasis on organic cotton production.
Providing a copy of the Nanjing Institute report to the Chief Minister, the following
conclusions of the report have been highlighted:
The Government of India had
on March 26, 2002, approved genetically modied Bt cotton, for commercial release in India. This decision opens the door for GM plant varieties to enter India.
June 2002: The Chinese findings
Bt cotton has been highly effective in preventing bollworm attack
But Bt cotton is harming natural parasitic enemies
of the bollworm; seen to be encouraging other pests
Damaging the environment
Indian groups react
A New Delhi forum has demanded an enquiry into the
Several groups in Karnataka request the CM to
disallow Bt cotton in the state
Chinese study was done in cooperation with Greenpeace
Mahyco and it's partner Monsanto are disputing the results
The appeal focuses on the fact that such concerns have been raised in the past,
but corporate cartels keeping merely short-term profits in view, aided by some
scientists, pooh-poohed such concerns as being "speculative" and unwarranted.
In view of the Nanjing study, these fears can no longer be dismissed casually,
it is stated.
- In Bt Cotton fields, compared to conventional cotton, there was a marked decrease
in the diversity of insects, and a higher incidence of pests;
- In Bt Cotton fields, there was a decline in the population of the natural
enemies of the bollworm (the major pest that Bt Cotton is supposed to safeguard
the crop against);
- In Bt Cotton fields, populations of pests other than bollworm had increased,
and some would likely become major problems for the cotton, against which Bt
Cotton may have no resistance;
- Bollworm was likely to develop resistance to Bt Cotton within 8-10 years of
beginning the planting, thereby affecting the long-term sustainability of the
Highlighting that a plant that sustains itself in an habitat of high biological
diversity, including its natural "pests", is resilient and thus has a better
chance of faring in economic and ecological terms, the appeal pointed out that
Bt cotton is a proposition in absolute contrast to this scientific fact. Urging
the Chief Minister to help restore diversity of cotton crops, and to enable farmers
to retain control over their livelihoods, by acting affirmatively in preventing
certain ecocide, it has been highlighted that the significance of Chinese official
agencies beginning to acknowledge and demonstrate the dangers of Bt Cotton is
very high, as Indian authorities and the corporate sector, including Monsanto-Mahyco,
have always used the Chinese example to "show" that Bt Cotton is “safe” and “effective”.
Now, there is even more cause for alarm given the serious doubts expressed by
In this regard, the Chief Minister has been urged to:
Environment Support Group ®
S-3, Rajashree Apartments 18/57,
1st Main, SRK Gardens,
Bannerghatta Road, Jayanagar
Bangalore 56004. INDIA
Telefax: 91-80-6341977, 6531339
Apt. 5 Shree Datta Krupa
908 Deccan Gymkhana,
Pune 411004 India
The appeal ends with the hope that Sri. Krishna's government will show foresight
and abundant caution that is required before introducing any new technology,
especially in the case of inherently risky technologies like genetic engineering.
For the future of sustainable agriculture lies in organic, biologically diverse,
low chemical and energy input farming practices, practices that are already proven
to be effective by thousands of farmers in India. It is time, therefore, that
the state also adapted a vigorous thrust towards such farmer-friendly, ecologically
sensitive and sustainable practices.
- Immediately halt any plans of introducing Bt Cotton into the state, whether
through official or private channels;
- Initiate, or press the Centre to initiate, further long-term studies on the
ecological, social, and economic impacts of Bt Cotton, while ensuring that these
studies are conducted in a transparent and participatory manner involving independent
scientists, NGOs, and farmers;
- Encourage, through economic and other means, the further expansion and development
of organic cotton, which has already been proven to be effective and productive
by many of the state's enterprising farmers;
- Investigate, through an impartial and transparent process, claims that Bt
Cotton was already illegally introduced into the state before the Government
of India cleared it for cultivation.
Leo F. Saldanha
T. N. Prakash Kammardi
L. N. Gopalakrishna
Petitioners: Ashish Kothari is with Kalpavriksh, Pune.
Leo F. Saldanha is with Environment Support Group, Bangalore.
Dr. T. N. Prakash Kammardi is Agri Economist Editor at Hittala Gida.
P. Babu is with Karnataka Coalition Against GM Crops.
Bharamagowder is President, Organic Cotton Growers Association, Dharwad.
L. N. Gopalakrishna, is Coordinator, National Alliance of People's Movement -
Karnataka. Dr. K. Ravi is Plant Pathologist, Karnataka Coalition Against GM Crops.
The Forum For Biotechnology & Food Security's press release
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