GMO news related to India

04.10.2019 |

Sowing the seeds of climate crisis in Odisha

In Rayagada, Bt cotton acreage has risen by 5,200 per cent in 16 years. The result: this biodiversity hotspot, rich in indigenous millets, rice varieties and forest foods, is seeing an alarming ecological shift

“Everybody is doing it. So we are too,” said Rupa Pirikaka, somewhat uncertainly.

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“Southern Odisha was never a traditional cotton-growing area. Its strength lay in multiple cropping,” said Debal Deb “This commercial cotton monoculture has altered the crop diversity, soil structure, household income stability, farmers' independence, and ultimately, food security.” It sounds like an infallible recipe for agrarian distress.

But these factors, especially those relating to changes in land use, plus what all this implies for water and the rivers, and loss of biodiversity – could also be playing themselves into another long-term, large-scale process. We are witnessing the sowing of the seeds of climate change in this region.

06.06.2019 |

GM golden rice must be vacuum packed to retain beta-carotene

Rapid degradation of beta-carotene in the rice during storage and cooking means it's not a solution to vitamin A deficiency in the developing world. Report: Claire Robinson

The vitamin A precursor beta-carotene is only present at low levels in GM golden rice, when compared to carrots and green leafy vegetables. But it rapidly degrades to even lower levels when the rice is stored after harvest, a new study by Indian scientists has found. After just 6 months of storage in the presence of air, even at the low refrigerated temperature of 4 degrees C, the beta-carotene degraded by around 68–79%.

The lowest degradation rate was seen in paddy rice (unprocessed rice complete with the hull), the middle rate in brown rice (with the hull removed), and the highest in polished rice (with the hull removed and the bran mostly polished off). Polishing is the standard treatment given to rice throughout Asia. Brown rice is hardly ever eaten and paddy rice is never eaten.

12.05.2019 |

Seeds from Bt brinjal trials not deposited with govt body

The use of GM crops is contentious, with arguments existing on both sides. Still, with India not allowing the use of genetically modified brinjal, the developments in Haryana are a clear violation of the law.

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The “biotech industry’s strategy of ‘leak illegal seeds first, contaminate and spread the cultivation and present a fait accompli’ for obtaining approval is well known. It did this with Bt cotton in India,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, convener of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture.

11.05.2019 |

2,000-kg HT cotton seeds seized, company MD held

HYDERABAD: Confirming the worst fears of Telangana government that unapproved herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton seed is making its way into the state and farmers are using HT seed on a large scale, a whopping 2,005 kilos of HT cotton seed was seized near Secunderabad railway station on Friday.

Managing director of a seed company and a driver were arrested in a joint operation conducted by Task Force police and agriculture department officials.

09.03.2019 |

Monsanto loses millions of dollars after Indian farmers switch to indigenous seeds

Monsanto claims that the genetically modified cotton seeds they sell are superior. So why are so many people trying to switch?

Monsanto is losing millions of dollars now that farmers in India are switching to indigenous cotton seeds rather than Bt cotton.

The agrochemical company is known for pushing a form of Bt cotton in India for the last decade. They have been accused of manipulating laws in order to enter the Indian market.

Monsanto’s manipulation and greed in India has caused hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers to commit suicide. Between the years of 1995 and 2013, more than 300,000 farmer suicides occurred, many of which were linked to Monsanto. Farmers are forced to pay for Monsanto’s costly seeds, which then force them to pay for the expensive pesticides to effectively grow them, as Bt cotton’s pest resistant quality fades over time.

25.02.2019 |

Sign-on letter from India against IPR on seed

Shri Modiji,

The undersigned signatories representing agricultural and farmer groups from all over India are deeply concerned and writing to you to emphasise that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations must not place any obligation on India or any other developing country with respect to intellectual property (IP) on seed and planting materials.

RCEP IS ‘WTO-PLUS’

The demand for tighter IPR comes in the form of insistence on provisions on rights in plant varieties. It is demanded by some RCEP-participating countries (RPCs) that such plant variety protection (PVP) shall provide for the IP protection of all plant genera and species by an effective PVP system, which is consistent with the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991 Convention). This demand makes RCEP go beyond the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and is thus ‘WTO- plus’.

It is important to recall that Article 27.3(b) of the WTO TRIPS Agreement only requires WTO member countries to make available an effective sui generis system for the protection of plant varieties. Countries have complete freedom to adopt a system suitable to their agricultural condition and needs. Nothing in the RCEP negotiations should affect and limit this freedom.

02.01.2019 |

GM Cotton – Reckless Gamble

The Profit Driven Move that Placed Indian Cotton Farmers in Corporate Noose

The dubious performance (failure) of genetically engineered Bt cotton, officially India’s only GM crop, should serve as a warning as the push within the country to adopt GM across a wide range of food crops continues. This article provides an outline of some key reports and papers that have appeared in the last few years on Bt cotton in India.

In a paper that appeared in December 2018 in the journal Current Science, P.C. Kesavan and M.S. Swaminathan cited research findings to support the view that Bt insecticidal cotton has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers. This paper was not just important because of its content but also because M.S. Swaminathan is considered to be the father of the Green Revolution in India.

The two authors provided evidence that indicates Bt crops are unsustainable and have not decreased the need for toxic chemical pesticides, the reason for these GM crops in the first place.

31.12.2018 |

India’s Swaminathan Criticises GM Crops as Highly Unsustainable

M.S. Swaminathan is known as the "Father of the Green Revolution in India". Although the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation has promoted GM crops since the early 2000s, in a newly published peer-reviewed paper he co-authored with P.C. Kesavan, Swaminathan criticises GM crops as unsustainable and questions their safety and regulation.

The authors state that none of the new agricultural technologies, including the Green Revolution, has been truly sustainable largely because of their adverse environmental and social impacts. They conclude that Bt and herbicide-tolerant crops are highly unsustainable. The authors state that Bt cotton has failed in India as a sustainable agriculture technology, failing to provide livelihood security for poor cotton farmers.

The authors draw attention to the "rising health concerns associated with Bt-crops", as well as evidence pointing to the conclusion that "Bt toxins are toxic to all the organisms, including mammals". They state that the Indian government was right to place a moratorium on Bt brinjal (eggplant) and call for a ban on Bt crops (except Bt cotton) in the country.

The paper is highly critical of India's GMO regulators for endemic conflicts of interest, lack of expertise in GMO risk assessment protocols, including food safety assessment, the assessment of their environmental impacts, the lack of ‘need’ for expensive transgenic technology, and the lack of a socio-economic assessment of their farming impacts on small farmers.

03.12.2018 |

Non-GMO starch Market : Rising Demand For Non-GMO Ingredients in a Food Item to Bolster Industry Growth

Starch is a carbohydrate that is abundantly used in the food and beverage industry, owing to its wide range of applications and functions. Starch is usually extracted from natural sources such as wheat, cassava, potato, rice, sago and corn. Non-GMO starch was first coined under the non-GMO project, where starch was prepared from non-genetically modified plants. Non-GMO starch is manufactured under strict regulated environment and protocols in order to prevent contamination and preserve the identity of the crop. Farmers are also required to use only non-GMO seeds for the crop production. These non-GMO crops are usually grown in countries where the growing of genetically modified organism is prohibited.

Opportunities for Non-GMO Starch Market Participants

The non-GMO starch available in the market are also very expensive, hence companies associated with non-GMO starch production need to find ways to offer the cost-effective solution to its customers. In today’s world, consumer buying behavior has continuously being influenced by the internet, buyers spend more time searching required products from various manufacturers before arriving at a decision. All companies have an online presence, but today, consumers are looking for an interactive web experience. Hence companies operating in this market needs to improve its web experience for the consumers and increase transparency of products accordingly. The role of retail and online support is no longer limited to the sale, and customer satisfaction after the sale is of paramount importance. Moreover, there is an increase in demand for non-GMO starch flour by the consumers of Europe, so new entrants could focus on offering such innovative products in order to enhance its foothold in the region as well as globally.

29.11.2018 |

Father of Green Revolution in India slams GM crops as unsustainable and unsafe

Calls for ban on herbicide-tolerant and Bt insecticidal crops

The plant geneticist and World Food Prize winner M.S. Swaminathan is known as the "father of the Green Revolution in India", since he helped introduce into the country a new US-influenced agricultural movement focusing on modern high-yield varieties of wheat and rice – and their accompanying pesticides and fertilizers.

Since 1988 he has headed his own M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Chennai, India. In the early 2000s the Foundation saw GM crops, and biotechnology in general, not only as having immense potential but as "the only way we can face the challenges of the future". Given Dr Swaminathan's role in the first Green Revolution in India, his promotion of GM crops was inevitably promoted as an ushering-in of a second Green Revolution.

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But Swaminathan's promotion of GM crops has also been increasingly marked at times by important caveats, reflecting a concern for sustainability, biosafety, and the impact of agricultural innovations on the rural poor. And those concerns would seem to underpin a remarkable newly published peer-reviewed paper[1] that he co-authored with his colleague P.C. Kesavan, in which he condemns GM crops as unsustainable and says they should be banned in India. He is also severely critical of the performance of India's regulators.

The uncompromising nature of his new publication marks his clearest departure yet from his previous broad endorsement of GM crops, and looks set to place him in the substantial line of scientific former-GMO-supporters-turned-critics, such as Dr Caius Rommens, Dr Belinda Martineau, and Dr Arpad Pusztai.

"No doubt" that GM Bt cotton has failed

On GM Bt insecticidal cotton in India, Drs Swaminathan and Kesavan write:

"There is no doubt that GE Bt-cotton has failed in India: it has failed as a sustainable agriculture technology and has therefore also failed to provide livelihood security of cotton farmers who are mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.

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