GMO news related to India

07.05.2018 |

DBT panel seeks destruction of HT cotton seed

Illegal variety of seeds pose threat to crop biodiversity and is also a health hazard

The Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC) constituted by the Department of Biotechnology to investigate the cultivation of unapproved hybrid cotton variety with herbicide-tolerant trait has decided to recommend its eradication, considering its adverse impact on crop biodiversity in the long run.

After collecting samples of the illegal variety of cotton seed, the committee has concluded that it is prevalent in all cotton-growing States in the country and the only viable solution is identifying and destroying the seed at producer, processor, seller and cultivator level, where it is found through field inspection. The high-level meeting was held at New Delhi on Thursday.

The high-level committee is headed by K. Veluthambi and comprises about a dozen officials from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority (TSSOCA).

07.05.2018 |

In Blow to Monsanto, India's Top Court Upholds Decision That Seeds Cannot Be Patented

In an another legal blow to Monsanto, India's Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Delhi High Court's ruling that the seed giant cannot claim patents for Bollgard and Bollgard II, its genetically modified cotton seeds, in the country.

Monsanto's chief technology officer Robert Fraley, who just announced that he and other top executives are stepping down from the company after Bayer AG's multi-billion dollar takeover closes, lamented the news.

Fraley tweeted, "Having personally helped to launch Bollgard cotton in India & knowing how it has benefited farmers ... it's sad to see the country go down an anti-science/anti-IP/anti-innovation path..."

Monsanto first introduced its GM-technology in India in 1995. Today, more than 90 percent of the country's cotton crop is genetically modified. These crops have been inserted with a pest-resistant toxin called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

Citing India's Patents Act of 1970, the Delhi High Court ruled last month that plant varieties and seeds cannot be patented, thereby rejecting Monsanto's attempt to block its Indian licensee, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd., from selling the seeds.

Because of the ruling, Monsanto's claims against Nuziveedu for unpaid royalties have been waived, as its patents are now invalid under Indian law. Royalties will now be decided by the government.

03.05.2018 |

The storm brewing in India’s cotton fields

The pests that GM Bt cotton was meant to safeguard against are back, virulently and now pesticide-resistant – destroying crops and farmers

Policymakers in every country considering introducing GM Bt cotton should read this article. It's long but revealing.

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* Bt-cotton occupies 90 per cent of the land under cotton in India – and the pests that this GM variety was meant to safeguard against, are back, virulently and now pesticide-resistant – destroying crops and farmers

The black scars dotting the green bolls of a wilting cotton plant on Ganesh Wadandre’s farm carried a message for scientists working on the "white gold": go find a new antidote.

“Those are the entry points,” said Wadandre, a five-acre farmer who is well regarded in Amgaon (Kh) village of Wardha district. The worm, he added, must have drilled into the boll from these points.

13.03.2018 |

India slashes Monsanto's GMO seed royalty, says US firm 'free to leave' anytime

India has cut royalties that local seed companies pay to US agrochemical giant Monsanto for the second time in two years. The producer of genetically modified seeds has previously threatened to pull out of the country.

According to a government order released on Tuesday, the country’s farm ministry has decided to reduce royalties paid by Indian seed companies to Monsanto for its genetically modified (GM) cotton by 20.4 percent.

Two years ago, the company’s royalties were cut by more than 70 percent. The move triggered a long-running dispute between the Indian and US governments.

09.03.2018 |

Illegal GM Soybean: Farmers’ body demands CBI probe into GEAC inaction  

The biosafety regulatory body denies receiving any complain about illegal cultivation of GM Soybean in some parts of Gujarat

After inaction over four months on complaint of growing illegal genetically modified (GM) soybean in Gujarat, farmer organisation, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) demands CBI probe against biosafety regulatory body Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) along with a case of treason against officials. It also demanded ban on Glyphosate—herbicide sprayed on GM crops. BKS claims that it is carcinogenic.

Meanwhile, GEAC has denied receiving any complaint by farmers or civil society body. “We have not received any complain regarding growing and testing report of HT (Herbicide Tolerant) soya in Gujarat,” says Sujata Arora, adviser on biosafety to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to Down To Earth.

The GM crops are not considered safe to grow because of gene manipulation. The inaction of GEAC, which is responsible for regulating introduction or growth of GM crops in country, shows how this regulatory body is in shambles.

16.02.2018 |

Threat to crops and carcinogenic: Farmers welcome move to restrict glyphosate use

The AP government’s order restricting the use of herbicides will also check the illegal use of BT cotton.

In a significant move to prevent the indiscriminate use of herbicides, the Andhra Pradesh Government has restricted the use of herbicides, especially glyphosate, in agriculture.

The order was passed after the Special Commissioner of Agriculture of the state, in a letter to the government, pointed out that “the injudicious use of herbicides particularly non-selective herbicides like glyphosate in agricultural and horticultural ecosystems leads to serious implications in many cultivated crops in Andhra Pradesh.”

According to the order, the herbicides cannot be used in any of the crops in the Kharif season, i.e. June to November. The approval of the Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee is mandatory to recommend/procure/store/use any agro chemical, as per the Insecticide Act, 1968.

The herbicides specified in the order can be used in non-cropped areas, or during the months of December to May, but only with specific recommendations by authorised personnel.

12.02.2018 |

CCI must stop the Bayer Monsanto merger

Bayer Monsanto merger

By Dr Vandana Shiva

On 7.1.2018 the Competition Commission of India(CCI), India’s anti-trust body for preventing monopoly,invited comments from the public on the adverse impacts of the Bayer-Monsanto merger. I submitted my objections on the Bayer Monsanto merger to CCI on January 20 2018. There are many reasons why the merger must not be allowed.

08.02.2018 |

SIT to probe Monsanto’s role in production, sale of herbicide-tolerant Bt Cotton in State

Maharashtra Government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to conduct probe into how many seed companies produced and sold Bt Cotton seeds with herbicide-tolerant transgenic gene though there was no permission to do so.

The issue of seed companies selling unauthorised herbicide-tolerant transgenic Bt Cotton seeds had come to fore following the media attention towards the deaths of farmers and farm-labourers due to pesticide spraying. Many farmers had alleged that the dealers had sold to them ‘BG-III’ seeds that were herbicide-tolerant. The herbicide-tolerant Bt Cotton plants remained unaffected even if farmers sprayed herbicides in their farm to remove the weeds and protect cotton plants. Later, the Government found that many seed companies had produced and sold Bt Cotton seeds with ‘transgenic herbicide/Glyphosate tolerant trait’. The said seeds were not permitted to be sold in the market. Against this backdrop, the Government has constituted SIT to conduct a probe into the matter.

06.02.2018 |

India 'illegally' importing genetically modified soya seeds, allege farmers and food activists

NEW DELHI: Farmer and food activists have alleged that genetically modified soya bean seeds are being imported “illegally” for cultivation, in violation of a directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) notification of 2006 that prohibits the import of GMOs without approval from the genetic engineering appraisal committee (GEAC).

Some activists have also found imported packaged foods containing GM ingredients being sold in departmental stores, one of which is a cake mix. The screening of GM products is lax, activists said in a statement on Monday. “We suspect packaged foods containing soya bean or corn seed imported from US may be genetically modified, there is no segregation there. All these products should be checked for GM ingredients,” said Kavitha Kuruganti of the GM free coalition.

21.01.2018 |

BT Cotton: These two issues could put the brakes on the Bt cotton story

Open any boll here and you'll see it's destroyed, says Ganesh Shere, a farmer at a village called Jamb in Yavatmal district, about 160 km from Nagpur, in northeast Maharashtra.

He walks along the length of his bone-dry, four-acre cotton field and splits two dozen cotton bolls, with a stone or his fingers, to reveal the damage done by pink bollworms, which have become resistant to the genetically modified (GM) cotton variety he uses.

His yield this year has only been 200 kg, less than 5% of what he produced last year. Shere, a 61-year-old former police sub-inspector, pegs his losses at Rs 2 lakh.

(.....)

Besides the problem of pink bollworms, cotton is also plagued by use of illegal herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton seeds. New Delhibased South Asia Biotechnology Centre estimated that in 2017-18 the sale of herbicidetolerant seeds almost trebled to 35 lakh packets from the previous year, with Telangana, Maharashtra and Andhra being the top consumers. The governments in these states are looking into the issue. After the Centre capped the prices of Bt cotton seeds in 2016, Monsanto withdrew its application for sale of a herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton seed.

Farmers used to Bt cotton may not really think of an alternative immediately and may consider the pink bollworm problem this season an anomaly. But given that Bt cotton is certainly not cheap — each acre requires two packets of BG-II, costing Rs 1,600, and another Rs 12,000-13,000 on fertilisers and pesticides -those affected may not take the viability of Bt cotton for granted anymore.

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