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Indian Minister quashes objections against Bt cotton
Nov '12
Calling the objections that NGOs and other expert committees have raised against Bt cotton to be vague and confusing, India’s Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar informed the Parliament that there are no scientific evidences to prove negative effects of Bt cotton.
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, the Minister said Bt cotton is the only transgenic crop to have obtained commercialization nod in the country so far. However, some agencies and authorities including some NGOs, civil societies, Supreme Court’s technical expert committee and Parliamentary Standing Committee have continuously been objecting Bt cotton since its introduction.
The NGOs and working groups object Bt cotton on biosafety grounds, based on the pre and post introduction assessments. However, results of such assessments have not been convincing, the Minister said. 
The NGOs and panels claim that Bt cotton is not a viable option for rainfed areas and even attribute the cattle deaths and farmers’ suicides in some of the regions to introduction of Bt cotton.
Mr. Pawar said none of the claims made by NGOs have any scientific evidences. He noted that there has been a significant rise in cotton cultivation acreage and productivity during the past 10 years, and India has emerged as the world’s second biggest cotton exporting nation.
The main aim behind introduction of Bt cotton was to counter the attacks of troublesome insect pests -bollworms, so as to avert the annual loss of 30-60 percent of the yields, and the purpose has been served, he said.
Success of Bt cotton can be understood from the fact that the use of insecticides for controlling bollworms has reduced from earlier 9,400 tons per annum to 222 tons in 2011-12, while effective protection against bollworm is believed to have boosted the yields by at least 30 percent, he added.
The Minister further said that 90 percent of the country’s overall cotton cultivation acreage of around 19 million hectares is under Bt cotton, and 35.2 million cotton bales of 170 kg each were produced during the 2011-12 crop season.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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