17 April 2003
Greens slam GE decision/Bt cotton failure in Punjab
Greens slam GE decision
Government proposals are 'unacceptable' says Jeanette Fitzsimons, saying NZers will not benefit at all
NZ City, 17 April 2003
The Greens are extremely concerned that the Government is expecting New Zealanders to accept some GE contamination in GE-free crops.
Cabinet has given the green light to the controlled release of genetically modified organisms after considering the Royal Commission's report on Genetic Modification.
It is sanctioning the 'cautious' release of GM organisms in New Zealand.
The Royal Commission says genetically modified crops can co-exist next to conventional crops, providing some level of contamination is allowed.
But Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says it is an abuse of human and consumer rights to expect consumers, and organic and conventional farmers and growers, to accept GE contamination.
Ms Fitzsimons says people have repeatedly said they passionately do not want any contamination in field or food.
The Greens say they are also concerned at huge costs to both the taxpayer and to GE-free growers because of the regime of monitoring, enforcement and testing.
Ms Fitzsimons says there are no demonstrated benefits to New Zealanders.
She says bees are a particular problem because they can spread GE material from plant to plant.
She says the Government proposal - that it will be up to bee keepers to find out from the Internet where GE crops are growing and to keep their bee hives six kilometres away - is unacceptable.
She questions whether the Government is up to date on the latest research on the subject.
BT COTTON WILL NOT SPIN PUNJAB'S YARN
April 15, 2003
Chanchal Pal Chauhan
BHATINDA -- Farmers in Punjab have rejected the first ever genetically modified commercial cotton hybrid seed, Bt Cotton, due to its poor harvest Malwa, a cotton rich area, in southern Punjab is highly dependent on this cash crop, but successive failures have left farmers in the lurch.
Bt Cotton had found many takers among farmers in Punjab when it was introduced. Though the Punjab Agriculture University was against the sowing of Bt Cotton seeds, several farmers smuggled Bt Cotton seeds from Gujarat hoping better results. The yield was, however, lower than claimed.
The Daula village sarpanch Mr Darshan Singh was quoted as saying, ""... We had to spray chemicals four to five times on Bt Cotton. The crops were attacked by various pests, specially the American Bullworm. The Bt Cotton yield was lower than that of the local varieties, which are more profitable." Moreover, the Bt Cotton seeds are costlier.
Mr Baljinder Singh, research scientist with Monsanto India Ltd, was quoted as saying, "Our aim is to reduce the cultivation cost.