GM crops driving fertilizer use in India
Press release, March 6 2009
New Delhi - Reacting to the projection of the doubling of fertilizer consumption with even a six percent rise in area of transgenic crops in India, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Kheti Virasat Mission pointed out that this once again reflects the lack of vision and wisdom with regard to transgenic seeds that are being unscientifically promoted in India. A news report cited Dr C D Mayee, ISAAA Board Member as having made this projection where the chemical fertilizer consumption in India is expected to increase from 106 kilos per hectare to 220 kilos per hectare with around 6 percent increase in area under transgenic crops.
Dr Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture said, "This further vindicates our stand against GM crops in the era of climate change when ways of mitigating GHG emissions from agriculture have to be explored, to think of increasing chemical fertilizer use through a rise in transgenic agriculture is extremely unwise. Further, ICAR had already reported that farmers are resorting to addition of more and more fertilizers to obtain yields similar to previous years, resulting in decreasing net returns to farmers. A recent IARI study pointed out that Bt Cotton impacts the soil microbial activity and constrains the availability of Nitrogen. If this is the current situation, what compels the government to promote transgenic crops which require more chemical fertilizers?
"The current fertilizer subsidy bill at 1.25 lakh crores is already an enormous burden on the public exchequer, which reflects a 650% increase in the past 5 years! This has already crossed even the defence budget of the country as several reports had pointed out. To imagine the doubling of this subsidy with a small increase in transgenic crops is indeed a great burden on public financing and all of this of course is a burden on the tax payers ultimately. India is walking into a ridiculous trap set up by agri-business corporations where ordinary citizens will bear the burden of such technologies in farming indirectly and farmers will find farming more unviable too. To make things worse, these farmers and consumers will have their health affected too, even as productive resources get eroded both with the GM crops affecting the soil life and the chemical fertilizers further killing such living soils", pointed out Kavitha Kuruganti, Trustee, Kheti Virasat Mission.
Though field trials of GM crops have not been used to assess these kinds of impacts of transgenic agriculture, in the past few years, agriculture universities started recommending higher fertilizer use on Bt Cotton, compared to non-bt Cotton. Critics have also pointed out that analyses of cotton production and yields in the country have ignored the increased chemical fertilizer consumption in the country amongst other things and have falsely attributed yield increases to Bt Cotton.
"In India, fertilizer use efficiency is hardly 50% and the rest leaches into and pollutes our soils and water. By supporting chemical fertilizer-based agriculture, India’s food self reliance has become precarious because about 40% nitrogenous, about 80% phosphorus and almost 100% potash fertilizers transgenics will erode our agricultural sovereignty some more”, said Umendra Dutt, Executive Director, Kheti Virasat Mission.
For more information, contact: