8 February 2003
INDIA'S BT COTTON DISASTER REPORTED AS COLOSSAL SUCCESS!!!
High yield from India's GM crops
BBC News: Genetically modified cotton crops in India - developed to resist insects - have a dramatically increased yield, scientists say...
GM crops boost yields more in poor countries
New Scientist | Field trials in India suggest that genetically modified crops have far greater benefits in developing countries, than the developed countries for which they were developed...
Compare and contrast:
"Influenced by the high-decibel campaign by Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech and with a lot of hope, Akki Ramulu raised the Bt Cotton hybrid buying the seed at Rs. 1,600 a packet (Bt Mech 162), about four times higher than the usual hybrid variety Bunny (Rs. 450) on an acre of his land. But after six months, he is a shattered man. After months of hard work, he may just be able to get a quintal of cotton, against the promised yield of 10-12 quintals per acre."
Following this kind of dire publicity over the performance of its GM (Bt) cotton in India, and with many poor Indian farmers facing ruin, Monsanto-Mahyco came up with findings which it provided to the Indian government showing that really it had all been a great succees! Unfortunately for Monsanto, Greenpeace-India sent its own researchers to check up on how the data had been compiled and, amongst much else, the researchers collected testimonies from farmers who said that they had been advised by the company to inflate their real yield figures! Many other irregularities were also found.
Now comes research from Germany based on a long distance analysis of Bt cotton performance in trials conducted by, wait for it... Mahyco-Monsanto! And guess what? The results are absolutely spectacular. "In the study the researchers found that average yields for Bt cotton were a remarkable 80 percent greater than their non-Bt counterparts, and 87 percent greater than the local cotton hybrids." (Center for Development Research, Germany, Press Release No. 2 - http://www.zef.de/press.htm)
This is exactly like the industry hype in North America which has always been undermined by actual independent controlled trials, many thousands of which have shown significantly decreased yields with GM crops.
The Bt cotton results have just been published in Science (Vol. 299, p.900) and hyped via press releases from the Center for Development Research in Germany. The press release doesn't limit itself to cotton but talks generally about GM crops claiming if this can work with cotton, then food crops will be just the same.
Multiple items follow on this extraordinary confidence trick.
From: Charlie Kronick
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2003
Subject:Indian Farmers reap benefit of GM cotton crops
In coverage of reseach into genetically modified cotton (Indian Farmers reap benefit of GM cotton crops, 7 February), The Times has uncritically accepted the findings of the business interest with most to gain from the sale of GM technology to India. To clarify, the paper published in Science this month, which your reporter found to be so impressive, is in fact a long distance analysis of trials conducted by Mahyco - a Monsanto subsidiary in India.
If Monsanto conducted field trials in the UK with little or no oversight, one would not expect reputable media outlets to give those results much credibility. Instead you might look at independent research which has found that the commercial planting of GM cotton in the same regions covered by the Mahyco study have suffered from poor yields as well as widespread crop failures, leaving many small farmers calling upon the Indian Government for compensation ranging up to GBP60 million. Where the crop did survive, the high cost of the seed and the need to spray for pests that are not vulnerable to Bt cotton means that the cost per hectare is over two (and sometimes up to four) times greater than conventional hybrids or traditional varieties. Who benefits from GM crops? Monsanto.
Chief Policy Advisor
The programme can be accessed on the internet:
It is also possible to write a message here but you can't cut and paste longer messages to them.
Dear World Service
Has the World Service turned into a propaganda mouthpiece for the genetic engineering industry? Your report on GE Bt cotton on Science in Action, 7 February, presented by Helen Sewell and produced by Martin Redfern, would certainly suggest so. In the entire report there was only one question that probed the many risks of transgenic cotton.
However what I found highly disquieting was that the programme focussed totally on the future promise of increased yields of transgenic Bt cotton in India and Africa. It totally failed to mention the fact that the recently concluded first growing season of GE Bt cotton in India is well documented as an unmitigated disaster for thousands of farmers who paid 4-6 times more for the GE than conventional seed only to have it fail in the fields. Many had to resort to expensive spraying of the Bt plants because the promised resistance did not materialise. Furthermore the plants proved more susceptible to disease such as 'leaf curl virus' and root rot than conventional varieties. Many farmers are claiming compensation for the fiasco that has plunged them into debt. Even Indian government officials who had allowed commercialisation of the technology admitted that the experiment had gone horribly wrong.
The only voice in the whole debacle to claim success of the harvest was the Indian subsidiary GE seed supplier Mahyco-Monsanto (well what a surprise). Their findings have been criticised by many quarters for using flawed and incomplete methodology.
That the programme failed to mention any of these issues whilst at the same time promoting future use of this problematic technology in India is a disgrace that serves to compound the severe problems that Indian farmers face. On such a contentious issue with many listeners deeply opposed to GE crops, would it not make for more sensitive programming to at least provide space for a counter view, of which there was none? How about redressing the balance by giving a voice to some of those Indian farmers whose livelihoods have been devastated by adoption of GE Bt cotton?
Rod's 'Annexes on the real story' - multiple items
"In the laboratory, we have easily grown pink bollworms resistant to Bt cotton in the laboratory," Carriere said. "So their relatives in the field have a potential to evolve resistance that's quite high." researcher Yves Carriere, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, told United Press International.
Rajendra Kulkarni, a progressive farmer, who has taken up Bt Cotton cultivation on his one acre plot on the outskirts of Jewargi in the district, said the expected yield of Bt Cotton was around 10 quintals an acre, which was much lower than the company's claim of 15 to 20 quintals.
Vijayakumar, Sales Officer of Mahyco-Monsanto, said the yield was low because seeds were sown late, and due to the sap-sucking pests.
Mr. Kulkarni said that he did not find much difference between Bt Cotton and other varieties as far as the yield was concerned. He sprayed pesticides after noticing bollworms in the plants as usual.
TITLE: Bt cotton an official writeoff
SOURCE: The Hindu, India, by S. Ramu
DATE: Jan 25, 2003
Bt cotton an official writeoff
NALGONDA JAN.25. Belying the claims of the Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (India), Agriculture Department officials have made it clear that Bt cotton is a disappointment in the district. They have informed the same to the State Government in a special report.
At a meeting at the Joint Director's office here on Saturday, Divisional Assistant Directors of the department said that the cotton variety had failed to yield desired results. Interestingly, some of them felt that other hybrid varieties fared well than the Bt seed.
Taking to The Hindu, the JD, M. Laxman Rao, said: "The seed did not have the impact as it was propagated. It has failed to show good results in the yield as well as in pest control."
As many as 359 farmers of the district opted for the controversial cotton variety to wipe out the debts at one go but the reality has proved disastrous. In all, the seed was sown on nearly 250 acres mainly in Halia, Kodad and Suryapet divisions, according to officials.
The Mahyco allocated 600 packets of MECH-162 variety to the district out of which 140 were sold in Nakrekal and each 30 in Kodad and Nalgonda.
In tune with an order of the Commissioner and Director of Agriculture, the ADAs prepared a report with farmer-wise details on the performance of the Bt cotton and submitted it to the JD's office.
Summing up the report, the JD said that the feedback was not encouraging. When asked if it was due to drought, he said that other local varieties fared well in similar conditions. Surprisingly, some of the ADAs had reportedly observed high pest incidence in the Bollguard seed than in other varieties.
"Going by the hi-pitch propaganda, the Bt seed should have much resistance but the ground reality is in contrary," said another ADA, who has done the leg work and interacted with ryots to know the performance of the Bt seed.
Another ADA, Murali, said that all the varieties had not shown any sign of pest attack in first 90 days but later it was found that the Bt variety too was susceptible to the bollworm. He opined that a thorough research should be done to know the impact of the Bt cotton.