Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bollworms adapt

Bt cotton toxic, bollworms seek new hosts
By Syed Akbar
Deccan Chronicle
June 23, 2012

The agricultural gains by Bt cotton farmers seems to be at the cost of other farmers. The bollworm, which the Bt cotton is resistant to, has now found new hosts in other varieties of plants, putting them at risk.

Bt cotton is poisonous for the cotton bollworm and it cannot survive on its leaves. So the insect, which belongs to the butterfly family, has migrated to non-Bt plants such as tomato, pigeon pea, chickpea, sorghum and maize.

The agricultural loss, which cotton growers suffered earlier, is now being experienced by farmers growing food crops. This has led to increase in the use of pesticides by non-Bt cotton farmers to reduce the additional loss.

There are no reports of reduction in the population of cotton bollworm and this indicates that it has adapted to non-Bt cotton crops to lay eggs and populate its species.

[Read More…]

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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

GM cotton genes in wild

GM cotton genes found in wild species
By MarĂ­a Elena Hurtado
January 17, 2012

SANTIAGO, CHILE - Genetically modified cotton genes have been found in wild populations for the first time, making it the third plant species - after Brassica and bentgrass - in which transgenes have established in the wild.

The discovery was made in Mexico by six Mexican researchers investigating the flow of genes to wild cotton populations of the species Gossypium hirsutum.

They found transgenes from cotton that had been modified to resist insects, herbicides or antibiotics in just under a quarter of the 270 wild cotton seeds assessed for that purpose. One of the contaminated seeds came from a wild plant located 755 kilometres away from the nearest GM cotton plantation. Others were beyond first-generation hybrids because they carried multiple and different transgenes.

According to the researchers, the GM seeds could have been dispersed by long distance lorry drivers transporting seeds for animal feed or oil extraction; by mild or strong winds; by fresh or salt water; or by birds and animals that had eaten them.

Norman Ellstrand, professor of genetics at the University of California, Riverside, United States, said this is the first study that finds transgenes in unmanaged cotton populations. He added that this is third system, after Brassica and bentgrass, in which transgenes have established in the wild.

[Read More…]

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