A new scientific study of GM (Bt) cotton production in Andhra Pradesh, India, together with a film, shows how farmers who planted Monsanto-Mayhco's Bt cotton in their fields suffered severe losses.

Such farmers have no subsidies or insurance to fall back on.  Andhra Pradesh is an area, in fact, which has seen a high level of suicide in the past when poor farmers have been forced into debt.

Now Monsanto-Mayhco's expensive seeds have brought a harvest of anger. A film to accompany the new study, made by women farmers, powerfully documents the traumatic season of Bt cotton.

An added irony in all this is that nowhere in India have GM crops been more promoted that in Andhra Pradesh, with the state government keen, with the World Bank backing, to stake its future - or rather, the future of tens of millions of small farmers and landless labourers - on GM crops and hi-tech farming.
SATHEESH <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
[director of the Deccan Development Society]

Dear friends

Please find attached the season long study report on Bt cotton in Warangal {see excerpt from the executive summary below], a cotton intensive district of Andhra Pradesh, the hi tech state which swears by biotechnology in agriculture.

The published report called Did Bt Cotton Save Farmers in Warangal along with a CD containing a 23 minute long power film called Why are Warangal Farmers Angry with Bt Cotton made by the women farmrs of Community Media Trust of Medak District in AP are available at a cost price of ten euros. Please see the [information below]. If some of you want it, please write to Ms Jayasri, Joint Convenor, AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity on her email Jayasri<This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>.

I look forward to your response.
from the executive summary of the full study

 Bt cotton sold in Andhra Pradesh as "Bollgard" was marketed by Mahyco-Monsanto, a joint venture of a Jalna based Indian Seed Company Mahyco and Monsanto, a multinational seed and agrochemical company. Bt cotton, India's first GM crop, got the nod for its commercial cultivation in south India, in the month of March 2002. It was sown approximately in 9500 acres (one acre of land ~ 2500 m 2 ) in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which stands third in cotton cultivation in the country, with an area of 8,87,000 ha under cotton. The State also stands first in pesticide- useon cotton crop.

The Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh, a major cotton district, was the centre of negative attention as over 150 farmers, unable to come out of the debt trap they had entered into by following cotton cultivation, found no better alternative to suicide. In spite of this, about 10-20% more land was brought under cotton cultivation the very next year. In the wake of this situation, the approval given in March 2002 by the Government of India's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee [GEAC], for commercial cultivation of Bt cotton naturally received very high attention in Andhra Pradesh.

Following the GEAC approval, approximately 1200 farmers of Warangal district planted Bt cotton over 1500 acres in Kharif 2002-03. Since such a commercial scale cultivation of Bt cotton was taking place for the first time in the State, the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity, a coalition of over 140 civil society groups in the State, decided to commission a scientific study on the results of Bt. Two agricultural scientists, Dr Abdul Qayum, formerly Joint Director of Agriculture, Andhra Pradesh, and Kiran Sakkari, who had worked with ICRISAT for three years, led the scientific study.

Simultaneously, the Community Media Trust, a remarkable media group of rural women farmers, based in Village Pastapur of Medak District, were entrusted with the responsibility of a systematic documentation of the experiences of a few selected Bt farmers at regular monthly intervals, from August-2002 till the end of the crop season i.e., March 2003.

The results of the study indicate that the cost of cultivation for Bt cotton was Rs.1092 more than that for non-Bt cotton because there was only a meager reduction in the pesticides consumption on Bt crop. On an average, there was a significant reduction (35%) in the total yield of Bt cotton, while there was a net loss of Rs 1295/ in Bt cultivation in comparison with non-Bt cotton, where the net profit was Rs 5368/-. Around 78 per cent of the farmers, who had cultivated Bollgard this year, said they would not go for Bt the next year. The survey also reveals that 71 per cent of the Bt farmers incurred loss at the end of the season, whereas only 18 per cent of the non-Bt farmers had to face this unfortunate situation. .

The study also points to the deep disappointment of farmers over the performance of Bt cotton, and that too in the very first year of its commercial cultivation. Many farmers who have grown this crop are angry about its paltry performance and express their great anguish over the hype created among the farming community, by way of overt propaganda, that Bt is a miracle seed that can resist the pest, and thereby improve the yield. It has not only shattered the hopes of scores of farmers, but has also thrown them deeper into a biological trap.
Why are Warangal farmers angry with Bt cotton

This film, made by the women farmers of Community Media Trust, Pastapur in Medak District of AP, is a powerful documentation of the traumatic season in 2002-03,that Bt cotton farmers in one district of Andhra Pradesh went through Warangal District in Andhra Pradesh attracted the attention of the world, a couple of years ago (when more than 200 cotton farmers, caught in the vicious cycle of pests, pesticides and debts found no way out but to commit commit mass suicides . For an agro chemical industry like Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Ltd., this was a God-sent opportunity to promote their GE technology. In Kharif 2002, they released two Bt cotton hybrids viz., MECH Bt 12, and MECH Bt-162 in Warangal district.

This lead the AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity and the Deccan Development Society in Andhra Pradesh to initiate a study called, Did Bt Cotton Save Farmers In Warangal District?

The film Why are Warangal Farmers Angry with Bt Cotton? is a part of this larger study and brings us the story of four farmers and the roller coaster experiences of others like them, who planted Bt cotton on their fields and suffered severe losses.

To tell this story, the women filmmakers from the Community Media Trust returned tenaciously to Warangal, month after month, both in cold winter and searing summer, sought out their focus farmers, cajoled them to share their information and opinion to be able to, come up with an absorbing film.

Independently as well as a part of its parental study, this film is a genuine representation of the experience of Bt cotton farmers. Through its sheer authenticity, this film nails the propaganda lie of the biotech industry.

Film made by: Eedulapalle Manjula, Matoor Shakuntala, Chinna Narsamma, Ippapalle Mollamma, Zaheerabad Punyamma and Humanpur Laxmamma. and Pastapur Yesu
Produced by : AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity and Deccan Development Society #101, Kishan Residency, Road No 5 Begumpet, Hyderabad 500 016 Andhra Pradesh, India