New GM technology to herald next cotton revolution
Dr K R Kranthi
Use of genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton seeds from 2002 onwards heralded the onset of India being considered one of the biggest producers and exporters of cotton in the world, just behind USA and China. Now after introducing two varieties of Bt cotton seeds in the last eight years, test trials are on to launch the third generation of GM seeds.
US based seeds biotech company, Monsanto and its Indian partner Mahyco, are conducting field trials of a new generation of GM cotton seeds, in association with agriculture universities and institutions, in which Bollgard II has been blended with Monsanto's round up ready flex (RR Flex) technology.
Way back in 2002, Bt cotton entered Indian cotton fields with a single gene (Bollgard-I), which could protect cotton plants from boll-worm. Bt cotton (Bollgard-II), a two gene variety which could promise a higher level of protection was introduced four years later. This helped increase cotton output and also helped India from being an importer of cotton to exporter of the white gold.
Fibre2fashion spoke exclusively with Dr KR Kranthi, Director of Central Institute of Cotton Research in Nagpur, which is also one of the institutions involved in conducting trials of the third generation of Bt cotton seeds using the RR Flex technology.
We began by asking him as to what are the major reasons for finding the alternate technologies for controlling weed, to which he said, “Increasing labour shortage is necessitating the need for alternate technologies for weed management. Moreover, the alternate technology 'Roundup Ready Flex' has the advantage of being simple in terms of operational convenience, economical and is very effective in controlling a wide range of weeds.”
Next we quizzed him as to with what purpose has Bollgard-II been integrated with Monstano's RR Flex technology, to which he replied by saying, “Bollgard-II is a superior pest management technology compared to Bollgard-1 and has the additional advantage of providing good 'resistance management'. Therefore it is appropriate that Monsanto has chosen to introduce the RR Flex through Bollgard-II”.
When asked as to where are the bio-safety trials being carried out, he informed, “The bio-safety trials are being carried out in nine locations. The trials have been laid out at CICR, Nagpur; CICR Regional Station, Sirsa; CICR Regional Station, Coimbatore; Navsari Agricultural University, Surat; Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, MP; Mahyco Farms in Bhatinda, Hanumangarh and Ranga Reddy and University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad”.
Giving details about the davnatges that could accrue from the new variety, he said, “RR Flex Bollgard-II will provide effective and sustainable bollworm management apart from providing the selective convenience of effective weed management. The technology is economical and takes much less time, compared to conventional tillage apart from being in consonance with conservation agriculture. Timely weed management, without having to depend on labour availability can give a significant advantage for better yields”.