Farmers from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra narrate bitter Bt cotton tales

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published Published on Mar 28, 2011   modified Modified on Mar 28, 2011
The debate on genetically modified crops is gaining momentum again.

However, this time, it seems the engineered food is losing ground to traditional crops. Eleven farmers from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu made a series of submissions explaining the havoc wrought by Bt cotton on their farms.

Their main contention was that Bt cotton had not given them economic benefits.

As a matter of fact, they had become poorer, their soils had become more toxic, and their animals grazing on Bt cotton stalks had either died, or become sick.

“While making any legislation for regulatory bodies for genetic engineering in food and agriculture, the predominant factor should be the interest of the Indian society as consumers, farmers, and the Indian soil and other components of the environment,” said a panel of three eminent judges from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala and the chief justice of Orissa high court.

This decision came at the end of a round table of senior judges held for the first time in India to discuss the ‘Emerging Jurisprudence of Genetic Engineering: Food, Farming and Biosafety’.

The conference was organised by the National Law School University of India (NLSUI), Bangalore, Southern Action of Genetic Engineering (SAGE), Hyderabad and Institute for Cultural Action (ICRA), Bangalore. The two-day meet concluded on Sunday with a set of observations from the panel of judges. The observations included:
>BT cotton seeds were found to be good for an initial boost in production for one or two years, after which there was consistent failure.

>Farmers were duped without adequate information on the identity and quality of cotton seeds.

>Large crop losses were noticed and pest attacks increased wherever there was BT cotton crop in the neighbourhood.

>Adverse health conditions were noticed in farmers including severe skin irritations and diseases.
>There was a rise in the mortality and infertility rates in cattle.

DNA, 28 March, 2011,

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