"The crop loss is huge"
EXCERPT: Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) launched the GM cotton variety in the country in 2002 claiming that it is pest-resistant. But the pink bollworm developed resistance to Bt cotton in 2009. Since then, Bt2 cotton seed was introduced but it too failed to show resistance to the pest…
AP opposes royalty to Bt2 cotton seed cos
The Andhra Pradesh government has opposed the payment of royalty to Bt2 cotton seed companies after the crop failed in parts of the state. Though the seed companies claimed that Bt2 cotton is resistant to pink bollworm, crop spread over thousands of acres was damaged. Facing flak for its "inaction", the AP government has written to the central government to waive off the royalty paid to the seed manufacturers.
This is in contrast to the stance taken by the central government that royalty should be cut by 70 per cent. The AP government wants zero royalty as Bt2 cotton failed to deliver the promised results.
"We wrote a letter to the central government requesting it to waive off the royalty. The seed companies should not get any royalty," AP agriculture minister P Pulla Rao told TOI. A committee set up by the Centre suggested that the royalty be cut from Rs 180 per bag to Rs 49 per bag from the next crop year.
Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) launched the GM cotton variety in the country in 2002 claiming that it is pest-resistant. But the pink bollworm developed resistance to Bt cotton in 2009. Since then, Bt2 cotton seed was introduced but it too failed to show resistance to the pest in several states, including Karnataka and Punjab. Last month, a team of AP officials noticed that Bt2 cotton failed to fight Pink bollworm pest in Kurnool and Anantapur districts. Agriculture activists claim that about 20 per cent of crops was affected. Farmers in the state have adopted the Bt 2 variety with the hope of securing a good yield. At present, cotton is grown in over 5.2 lakh hectares, with Bt2 variety occupying 98 per cent of the crop.
Curiously, it was the AP government that formulated its own Seed Regulation Act in 2009 to fix the royalty. Later, other states followed suit. The central government then, came up with a specific order saying that it will fix the royalty.
"The crop loss is huge and states can deal with local seed companies effectively. Farmers use nearly five bags of seeds for one hectare. The royalty simply adds to the crop input," said GV Ramanjaneyulu, an agriculture scientist. In fact, companies should be asked to pay compensation to farmers for the crop damage due to lack of resistance against Pink bollworm, he added. The government pays for crop damage in case of natural calamities only.