We understand from NGOs in India that there is tremendous pressure on Indian bureaucrats and scientists to approve Mahyco-Monsanto's Bt transgenic cotton for commercialisation.
We support the calls of Indian NGOs for the postponement of the decision until proper evaluation, and proper debate has taken place.
We support the ICAR's requirements for proper research prior to commercialisation.
We note that these crops will not benefit small farmers and landless workers but only destroy their jobs and increase the gap between rich and poor.
Their approval should not be rushed through without time to consult farmers or properly assess the potentially disastrous environmental, socio-economic and health impact for India.
I understand an official press release by the Press Information Bureau last year had listed ICAR's concerns and quoted the Ministry oficials as saying that these would be studied. To ignore ICAR's environmental and social concerns would surely constitute a FRAUD on the Indian people.
I understand Nitish Kumar said recently that all aspects of the issue would be carefully examined prior to any question of GM cotton cultivation. The important socio-economic, environmental safety and health considerations must not be pushed to one side in the rush to commercialisation.
In a presentation to the GEAC last year, the India Council of Agriculture Research suggested further detailed studies were required, to include:
* nutritional studies on buffaloes and cows
* studies on the development of resistance of other plant pests
* toxicity studies on other animal species like poultry and fish under Indian conditions
* studies on the stability of Cry 1Ac gene;
* studies on gene flow and pollen dispersal and an assessment of the impact of such a migration on non-transgenic cotton
* a report from Indian laboratories to determine Bt seeds do not contain the controversial terminator gene
* a study to generate socio-economic data like the cost of transgenic cottonseed, projected demand, and the area to be covered under transgenic cotton cultivation.
Please act cautiously and wisely and do not approve Mahyco-Monsanto's GM Cotton without proper evaluation and debate.
Norfolk Genetic Information Network