1.Supreme Court hearing on GM crops ban today
2.Tell them in St. Louis about Bt cotton disaster 3.Companies forced to slash price of Bt cotton
EXTRACT: Prashant Bhushan, who is the advocate for the petitioner, Aruna Rodgrigues, said, "The government has not yet disclosed the locations of trials relating to 91 applicants. It has not also complied with the court's order of February, 2007 which called for bio-safety reports of field trials. The department of bio-technology has not given us toxicity data on transgenic rice, okra, brinjal and mustard, despite the verdict of the Central Information Commission." (item 1)
In an open letter to the Chief Minister , P. V. Satheesh, convenor of the Coalition, reminded him of the importance of St Louis, the venue of the Congress. It was the headquarters of the American agro chemical giant, Monsanto whose Bt cotton seed caused havoc in the State. (item 2)
1.SC hearing on GM crops ban today
ASHOK B SHARMA
Financial Express, May 7 2007
NEW DELHI, MAY 6: The biotech industry has appealed to the Supreme Court to vacate its ban order on fresh approval of genetically modified (GM) crops. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan is slated to hear the industry's petition on May 8.
The apex court, in the course of its hearing of a public interest litigation filed by Aruna Rodrigues, PV Satheesh and others on September 22, 2006, had directed the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) not to clear any GM crop for fresh field trials. Earlier on May 1, 2006, it had also said the GEAC and not the Review Committee for Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) under the department of biotechnology should be responsible for field trials and approval of GM crops.
"We have filed an impleadment application in the Supreme Court for vacation of the ban order," said RK Sinha, executive director of All India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA). Sinha is also the executive director of National Seeds Association of India, a body formed with the merger of AICBA and three seed industry bodies.
Sinha said, "There is no other options before the country, but to adopt transgenic technology in agriculture. Agriculture land is shrinking and we need to grow more as the population is rising. Transgenic technology will help bail us out of this situation."
He said Bt cotton had benefited farmers by raising their levels of income and reducing their costs of farming.
Sinha said apart from AICBA, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, University of Delhi and Dharwad University had also sought vacation of the ban order. On the other side, farmers' organisations led by Bharat Krishak Samaj have filed an impleadment supporting the PIL for a moratorium on GM crops. The All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has filed an impleadment expressing concerns over the possibility of export prospects being damaged on account of genetic contamination due to GM crops. AIREA has urged that a tough regulatory regime and adequate biosafety measures are put in place before final approval.
Speaking to FE, Prashant Bhushan, who is the advocate for the petitioner, Aruna Rodgrigues, said, "The government has not yet disclosed the locations of trials relating to 91 applicants. It has not also complied with the court's order of February, 2007 which called for bio-safety reports of field trials. The department of bio-technology has not given us toxicity data on transgenic rice, okra, brinjal and mustard, despite the verdict of the Central Information Commission."
In reply, the government has claimed that "it has put in place a stringent regulatory regime" for ensuring health and environment safety, and has appealed for either removal or modification of the ban order.
On the safety aspect, the government said in its reply, "It is pertinent to mention that no scientific technological development may be attained in any country, developed or under developed, without taking calculated risks and chances. As a matter of routine, tests are conducted, many of them fail, some leave behind adverse effects, but still such tests continue to be conducted in the interest of development. It is impossible to eliminate all hazards connected with technological development. However, all precautions are taken to minimise the adverse effects which may follow."
YSR to leave for US today
The Hindu, 6 May 2007
He will participate as chief guest at the World Agriculture Congress
HYDERABAD: Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy will leave here in the early hours of Sunday on a weeklong official tour to the United States of America and Singapore. The visit will focus on agriculture, IT and investment promotion. He will be the chief guest at the World Agriculture Congress-2007. To highlight his Government's initiatives to give boost to agriculture, he will be seen in his usual dhoti, the conventional farmer's attire, holding a mirror to Telugu culture.
Dr. Reddy will be accompanied by K.V.P. Ramchandra Rao, Advisor (Public Affairs), Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Jannat Hussain, and Chief Security Officer, G. Uday Kumar. His wife, daughter and grandchildren will also accompany him.
'Highlight Bt disaster'
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity has urged Dr. Reddy to highlight the 'Bt cotton disaster' in the State, at the World Agriculture Congress in the US. In an open letter to the Chief Minister , P. V. Satheesh, convenor of the Coalition, reminded him of the importance of St Louis, the venue of the Congress. It was the headquarters of the American agro chemical giant, Monsanto whose Bt cotton seed caused havoc in the State. "When you address the Congress, please share the results of the scientific study carried out by the Coalition for five years in the cotton growing areas of the State. All point to an unqualified failure of Bt cotton," he added.
The Hindu, May 4 2007
The companies were forced to slash the price of this variety from Rs. 1,800
HYDERABAD: Refusing to concede to the demand by seed companies for enhancing the rate of Bollgard Bt cotton - II, the Andhra Pradesh Government has made it clear that it would sell each packet (450 gms) at Rs. 750 only.
Agriculture Minister N. Raghuveera Reddy at a press conference here on Friday said, last year the Government had successfully forced the seed companies to bring down the price of Bt cottonseed from Rs. 1,800 to Rs. 750 a packet.
The State Government had moved the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission against Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Limited (MMBL) for collecting `exorbitant' royalty on Bt cotton.
The legal battle had forced the company to bring down the price to Rs. 750 a packet. The MMBL has once again approached the Government seeking a rise in price of the Bt cotton - II.
Bollgard I only protects the cotton plant from bollworm while the Bollgard II plant fights bollworm as well as heliothis.
The Minister reiterated that the Government will not allow seed companies to increase the price of the Bollgard II. "They have to sell the packets at Rs. 750 only," he said.