GMO news related to India

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.

02.10.2018 |

Imported seeds fast replacing local varieties in Pakistan

KARACHI: Agriculture constitutes the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy and the majority of the population depends on it. It contributes about 24 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), accounts for half of the country’s employed labor force, and is the largest source of foreign exchange earnings. It feeds the whole rural and urban populations of Pakistan.

The country has a rich biodiversity and multinational companies have realized this. Thousands of varieties of seeds, medicinal plants and herbs have been developed over hundreds of years by farming communities, who were well-equipped with indigenous knowledge of the local environment, climate and conditions for agricultural production.

But the day is not far off when the entire seed business will be controlled by seed companies, leaving local farmers totally dependent on imported or multinationals’ seeds.

01.10.2018 |

Call to Action 2018: Our Bread, Our Freedom

Food systems are either sources of nourishment forging the foundations of human health and well-being or one of the most substantial health risk factors.

An entire colonization of the earth, agriculture and our bodies has taken place over a century. Food and agriculture systems upon which we all depend have increasingly become industrialized and globalized. Commercial compulsions of current global agricultural and food systems, compounded by high levels of economic inequality are making healthy diets unavailable or unaffordable to large sections of the population in every part of the world.

27.09.2018 |

Bayer may stop selling Monsanto's new Bt cotton in India

Germany’s Bayer AG, which acquired US biotech firm Monsanto in June, recently said new Bt cotton seed technology cannot be introduced in India as it is no more profitable and financially viable because of royalty issues. The acquisition of Monsanto is over globally but is still in process in India.

Monsanto, which has been selling genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in India through its joint venture Mahyco Monsanto Biotech that has sub-licensed Bt cotton seed technology to various domestic seed companies, is involved in legal battles with the Indian Government and Indian company Nuziveedu Seeds.

The company needs to be compensated for investment made in research and development (R&D) to come up with innovative products, Bob Reiter, global head of R&D, crop science division of Bayer, told a news agency.

23.09.2018 |

India: Failed promises of GM Bt cotton

Stagnant yields, pest attacks and skyrocketing fertilizer use have beset India’s first commercialised GM crop. Claire Robinson reports

GM Bt cotton in India has brought stagnant yields, massive pest attacks, and increased agrochemical use, according to data presented at a conference.

GMO advocates often claim that GM Bt cotton was responsible for increased cotton yield in India. But while yield did increase for the first few years of Bt cotton introduction, this gain was not sustained.

And the data show that even this temporary gain was not due to Bt cotton. During the years when cotton yields grew, from 2002–2005, the percentage of Bt cotton in the total cotton crop was minuscule – below 6% at the all-India level. As the percentage of GM Bt cotton in the total cotton crop grew to over 90%, yields stagnated and even declined.

31.08.2018 |

Seed firms to pay just 1,300cr as compensation for crop loss to Maharashtra cotton farmers

Soon after the pest attack, the Maharashtra government announced a compensation of Rs 30,800 a hectare to the affected farmers in a region already reeling under an agrarian crisis. Of this, Rs 16,000 a hectare was to to be paid by seed companies under the Maharashtra Cotton Seeds Act.

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Officials said the seed companies often challenge the state’s orders. “The companies always move court, challenging our orders, saying the farmers do not follow instructions on the seed packets,” another official said. “In some cases, the compensation slapped is more than the firms’ annual turnover.”

Experts and farmers’ activists agreed. “I don’t think these claims will be accepted by the seed companies, as they cite the lack of awareness among farmers about the pest attack,” said farm activist Vijay Jawandhia. “Instead of waiting for the compensation from companies, the government should first pay it to the farmers. He said only a-fourth of the cotton farmers applied for the compensation as they did not have awareness about the provision in the first place.

Bijay Kumar, additional chief secretary, agriculture department said, “The compensation is being claimed based on applications and depending on the loss assessed from the crop cutting system. While giving the compensation under NDRF norms, the government is more liberal, but the compensation is claimed more scientifically from the companies. Even if the companies move court against the orders, we are sure to win them in the court.”

06.06.2018 |

Pink Bollworm Resistance to Bt Cotton in India

Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders), the pink bollworm, has made a comeback in India, attacking genetically modified (GM) Bt Bollgard-II cotton bolls, the second-generation GM cotton created by Monsanto to confer resistance to the worm.

The pest had first showed up sporadically on Bt cotton in 2010, but by the 2015-16 season, large areas of cotton crop were affected, reducing yields by an estimated 7-8%. Surveys by the state revenue and agriculture departments in November 2017 and February-March 2018 indicate that pink bollworm infestation affected over 80% of the 4.2 million ha under cotton in Maharashtra alone. Each farmer reportedly lost 33% to over 50% of standing crop. In January 2018, Maharashtra’s Department of Agriculture predicted a dip in cotton production and bales by 40%.

The pink bollworm infestation is widespread in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.This drove the profuse use of pesticides from July to November 2017 across Maharashtra by farmers desperate to save their cotton crop, but no pesticides were reportedly able to control the worm. The Ministry of Agriculture acknowledges the problem but has rejected the demand from Maharashtra and other states to de-notify Bt-cotton, a move that will change its status to regular cotton since Bt cotton’s efficacy is no longer there.

07.05.2018 |

Monsanto challenges Indian court’s decision that undermines its GMO cotton monopoly

Agro-biotechnology giant Monsanto has appealed Delhi High Court’s ruling which, based on national laws, prevents the world’s largest GMO seed producer from claiming patents on its genetically modified cotton varieties in India.

Looking to break down Monsanto’s monopoly on the Indian market, in April the Delhi High Court banned the St. Louis-based company from enforcing its patents on genetically modified ‘Bollgard’ and ‘Bollgard II’ cottonseed varieties in India. The decision was taken after Indian Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL) argued that the US seeds company was not eligible to claim patents and demand royalties from Indian seed companies.

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Following April's court ruling, 107 patents could soon be void, which could force the company to leave the market, Ram Kaundinya, of the Federation of Seed Industries of India, which represents Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta foreign companies, cautioned.

“The decision of the Delhi High Court has made biotechnology companies cagey about investing in their businesses because they apprehend that they will lose patents on their expensive technologies,” Kaundinya said.

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