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Commercialisation of Bt cotton expected in 2012
Aug '11
Approving commercialization of disease-resistant Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton is the best way to rescue Filipino cotton industry, according to Philippines Cotton Development Administration (CODA), which expects commercialisation of Bt cotton next year.

CODA says commercialization of Bt cotton will boost cotton cultivation in the country, while bringing more area under cotton cultivation and enhancing field productivity, besides cutting costs.

Bt variety provides resistance to cotton against attack of bollworm, which is a major pest that is held responsible for majority of the problems caused to cotton by pests not only in Philippines, but in countries across the globe.

The demand for introduction of Bt cotton in Philippines was raised over a decade ago, but things started changing only in 2004, when the Biotechnology Programme of the Department of Agriculture (DA) began its efforts to launch and analyse the effect of Bt cotton varieties in local markets.

Presently, CODA is in the process of fulfilling the norms and has handed over a list of proposed sites for Bt crop trials to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) for evaluation. CODA would begin multi-location trials from September 2011 onwards, once the BPI finalizes the sites.

There has been a delay in trials due to failure on the part of the technology developer or owner to collaborate with CODA. Initially, when Bt corn was commercialised in the country, Bt cotton was left out as the technology owners felt that the product did not have much commercial value in the country.

Subsequently, CODA initiated negotiations with another technology developer, China Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Biocentury Transgene Co. Ltd. in China to join forces with it for launching of Bt cotton commercialization in the Philippines.

However, before the negotiations could conclude, China imposed a ban on outward shipments of genetically modified (GM) materials, thus leaving the Philippines Government to engage with BioCentury Transgene Co., which was engaged by Beijing for the same purpose.

The Chinese firm ultimately struck a deal with an India based franchise seed firm Nath Biogene Ltd. and tasked it to commercialize Bt cotton through use of gene on Indian varieties.

Thus, in spite of the fact that the technology and seeds are imported from China, and tagged as fused Bt gene, the same have been tried on Indian cotton varieties.

Unlike the Chinese Government, the Government of India has not imposed a ban on export of genetic materials and hence CODA is now getting ready for commercialisation of Bt cotton in the country by September 2012.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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