Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bayer compensates farmers

Bayer Crop Science told to compensate Maharashtra farmers for poor BT cotton yields
By Jayashree Bhosale
The Economic Times
February 8, 2012

PUNE - The Maharashtra government has ordered the Indian unit of Bayer Crop Science, the world’s largest agrochemicals company, to pay 45 lakh as compensation to 164 farmers as one of its BT cotton hybrids did not deliver the promised yield, the first instance of a seed company being asked to make good farmers’ losses.

“We welcome the fact that the government has taken the side of farmers,” said Kavitha Kuruganthi of the Association for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, an umbrella body for farmer-rights NGOs.

An order passed by Maharashtra’s agriculture commissioner, Umakant Dangat, said these farmers belonging to Dhule district had been ‘cheated’ because the pest resistance capacity of Bayer Bioscience’s SurPass 1037, one of its BT cotton variety, failed to meet minimum standards.

“The company had claimed on its label that its seed was less susceptible to pest and disease. But we found that to be not true. It is a fact that farmers suffered losses. We calculated the compensation based on average yield in that region and the average market price,” Dangat told ET.

Bayer BioScience has disputed the order and is looking at legal remedies. “As per our investigations, the yields below expectations in a few pockets are due to combination of inadequate crop management and adverse environmental conditions. We are in the process of contesting the unjustifiable claims through a legal course,” said the company.

BT cotton is the test case for introduction of biotech food crops in India. KK Kranthi, director of the Central Institute for Cotton Research, said the pest attack in the affected fields was not related to BT. “These could be isolated cases,” he said.

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