1.INDIA: Ag department seizes BT cotton seeds
2.US growers subsidising Bt cotton in India: study

1.INDIA: Agriculture department seizes BT cotton seeds in E. Godavari

A special squad of officials from the Agriculture department seized BT cotton seeds worth Rs 2.13 lakhfrom dealers at Tuni in East Godavari district on June 26.

BT cotton - transgenic cotton in which bacillus thuringenesis (BT) gene is implanted to fight bollworm and other pests that the crop is prone to - has not yielded the desired results in Andhra Pradesh, according to studies conducted by experts.

Earlier this year, the genetic engineering approval committee of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests issued orders banning cultivation of BT cotton in Andhra Pradesh, but allowing it in northern India.

The three varieties of transgenic cotton introduced by Monsanto-Mahyco in Andhra Pradesh - MECH 162, MECH 12 and MECH 184 - were found wanting. It was claimed that they would be more pest-resistant, thereby resulting in reduction of pesticide use, and give greater yields. But these claims were not proven on the field.

However, in spite of the ban, it is alleged that BT cotton seed was freely available in the cotton belt - Guntur, Krishna and Prakasam districts.

At the recent meeting of the zilla parishad in Guntur, people's representatives of all parties expressed concern over the sale of the banned seed.

Mr Raghuveera Reddy, State Agriculture Minister, during a recent video conference, instructed officials of different districts to invoke the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act to book the sellers of such spurious seeds. In particular, he wanted them to concentrate on Guntur, Warangal and Kurnool from where the spurious seed originated.

2.US growers subsidising Bt cotton in India: study
Financial Express, July 02, 2005

NEW DELHI, JULY 1: - The Ottawa-based Polaris Institute in a study concluded that US cotton growers are actually subsidising Monsanto’s market expansion in India.

The study says that many US cotton farmers are paying a high price for Monsanto's Bt cotton technology, while the biotech giant fails to collect revenues for pirated Bt cotton varieties in India.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), illegal Bt cotton is planted on an estimated 600,000 hectare in India. Approved Bt cotton varieties are planted on 525,000 hectare. The USDA predicts that the plantings of illegal Bt varieties will jump to 700,000 hectare for the next growing season. In 2004/05 the area of illegal Bt planted in India was equivalent to 12% of the total cotton area in US.

In this context, the Polaris Institute study says that in the US, farmers must pay a ‘technology fee’ when purchasing the seed from authorised Monsanto seed dealers. If they are found violating their contract with Monsanto, whether for saving seed or supplying seed to someone else, they must pay 120 times the technology fee, in addition to the St Louis company’s legal fees.

Quoting an article from Nature Biotechnology (2001), the study said that illegal Bt cotton containing Monsanto’s gene began to spread even before the government had approved the variety for commercial use. At the time, Monsanto’s Indian director of government and public affairs, stated that the company could not take action against Navbharat Seeds - the company alleged to be developing and selling the seed illegally - because the Bt gene was not patent-protected in India. Monsanto gained patent protection for its Bt cotton in India in December 2004.

But this year, even with the patent protection in place, illegal varieties are spreading. The USDA reports that as many as 50 unapproved Bt varieties are being developed and sold by farmers and private seed companies, and cultivated in the country's south, central and northern regions.

"The pattern of profitless adoption seems to be one that Monsanto cannot avoid," said David Macdonald, analyst with the Polaris Institute. "The company attempted this same strategy in South American with soy to the detriment of investors and farmers alike," he said.