Interesting article on bio-controls, IPM and other non-GM approaches in India
Use Of Bt As A Microbial Agent More Effective Than Transgene - Govt To Encourage Usage Of Microbial Pest Control Agents
ASHOK B SHARMA
Financial Express (India)
NEW DELHI, JUNE 6: Having transgenic crops with Bt genes is not the only way to fight pests like bollworm. The Union agriculture ministry has drawn up plans to encourage use of microbial pest control agents like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), Trichoderma ssp, nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) on agricultural fields.
Research findings have revealed that application of Bt as a bio-control agent (not as a transgene technology) on fields increases the cotton yield by about 26.6 per cent. Biopesticides like Bacillus thuringiensis, Trichoderma species, Cymbopogam, Phyrethrum, Bacillus subtilis, Gliocladium species, Pseudomonas flurescens, Entomogenous fungi, Beauveria bassiana, Metarrhiaium, nuclear polyhedrosis virus and neem-based biopesticides have been brought under the provisions of the Insecticides Act, 1968, and registration process for bio-pesticides has been simplified.
The government's decision to encourage use of bio-pesticides and microbial pest control agents follows the growing demand for organic food which at present has a market size of $37 billion.
Incidentally, the recent rejection of Indian food consignments to Europe and North America on grounds of pesticide residues has prompted the policymakers to encourage use of bio-pesticides and bio-control agents.
The Eurpoean Union is insisting on imports of organic cotton free of chemical pesticide residues. To minimise the use of chemical pesticides in cotton cultivation and for effective management of pests and disease, the project FAO-EU Integrated Pest Management Programme for Cotton in Asia is being implemented in the cotton growing areas of South India from June 2000Cotton produced under this project is being exported to Europe.
With the support of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Asian Development Bank (ADB), CABI and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) capacity-building for integrated pest management (IMP) is in progress in different parts of the country. According to the latest data 4.857 million hectare are of cultivable land is brought under the use of bio-control agents. Socio-economic evaluation was carried out by the agro-economic research centres of various universities in West Bengal, Nagaland, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Evaluation was also done by the Centre for Natural Resource Management in the National Institute for Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad. Findings of these evaluation revealed that trained officials and farmers have a good knowledge in the concept and techniques of agro-ecosystem analysis, pest and defender ratio and economic threshold limits of pest incidence.
The IPM farmers’ field schools (FFSs) has shown increase in yields of up to 42.1 per cent in rice and 26.6 per cent in cotton in areas covered under IPM demonstrations as compared to non-IPM areas. Similarly, IPM demonstrations have registered a reduction in consumption of chemical pesticides up to 100 per cent in rice and 50 per cent in cotton crop. As a result, the countrywide consumption of chemical pesticides (technical grade) has reduced from 61,357 tonne in 1994-95 to 47,020 tonne in 2001-02.
The Institute of Pesticide Formulation Technology (IPFT), a public sector enterprise under the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilisers has been selected as the nodal agency for pesticide residue analysis by the Union agriculture ministry. The Planning Commission has approved a grant of Rs 16.4 million to IPFT for upgradation of its laboratory for conducting residue analysis. The upgradation work is likely to be completed by 2004-05 IPFT has planned to generate residue data of Indoxacarb in cotton, residue data of Acetamiprid in chilli and residue data of Acetaminprid in rice. IPFT will also study bio-efficacy and phytotoxicity studies of different chemical pesticides on crops. IPFT has a separate division for study on bio-pesticides and bio-fertilisers and is set to be the nodal institution for promoting the cause of organic farming.