More disturbing detail on the extent and the peculiarity of the problems affecting Bt cotton, and of the serious consequences for many of India's poor cotton farmers.
EXCERPTS: ...the extent of loss is such that the companies cannot ever hope to compensate the farmers for their losses... Because of this, the pressure not to give in and pay compensation to even a few farmers is very high... (item 2)
Farmers have repeatedly observed that Bt Cotton is very stress-intolerant, unable to withstand conditions of lack of rains or excessive rains (item 1)
Farmers are beginning to realize that Bt Cotton hybrids are presenting peculiar problems in terms of diseases and sucking pests year after year and many are beginning to question the way the government permitted the commercial release of the technology. (item 2)
1.Report of a Fact Finding Team's Visit to Nanded district, Maharashtra
2.Report of a Fact Finding Team's visit to Warangal district
1.Report of a Fact Finding Team's Visit to Nanded district, Maharashtra
Purpose: To investigate into the performance of Bt Cotton in Dharmabad block of Nanded district in Maharashtra. This effort is part of the monitoring taken up by the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee [MEC] set up to monitor Bt Cotton across five states of India .
A Fact Finding Team [FFT] consisting of Mr Palash Ranjan Ghoshal, agriculture scientist from YUVA, Nagpur; Ms Kavitha Kuruganti of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Secunderabad; Mr Ravi Shetty, a farmer and social worker from Dharmabad and Mr Gopal Patil, General Secretary of Maharashtra Sarpanch Sanghatana in Nanded went into villages in Dharmabad block of Nanded district to look into reports of failure of Bt Cotton in the area. The visits to villages and farmers were made on November 12th and 13th, 2005 and the FFT was accompanied by a couple of media persons
Villages visited: Karkheli, Junni, Dharmabad, Balapur and Babulgaon
Hybrids inspected in the fields: Bunny Bt, RCH 2 Bt, RCH 144 Bt, MECH 184 Bt Cotton [all Bt Cotton hybrids] and Ankur 09, Chamatkar, Maruthi, Durga and Gowri [non-Bt Cotton]
Bt Cotton and non-Bt Cotton Farmers met/Fields visited: Tanwir Hussain Ahmed Hussain, Sarpanch, Karkheli village; Anwar Hussain, Sakharam Shetty, Dutta Shetty Desai, Krishna Laxman Hemke, Shaik Abdul Mastan, Peerabai [all from Karkheli village], Gore Miyan [Balapur], Suryakant Namdevrao Chidre [Rampur], Digambar Rao Patil, Pundlik Digambar Patil, Sainath Kishanrao Shurudwad, Utham Reddy [all from Junni], Laxman Gangadhar More and Kushal Rao [from Babulgaon]
Scientists met: Dr Bhosale [entomologist] and Dr S Bhattare [breeder] in Cotton Research Station, Nanded (met by a smaller group on 14th November 2005)
Dealer met: Chandrakant Patil of Patil Agro Services, Dharmabad who is also qualified in agriculture sciences
* Almost all Bt Cotton plots, in various degrees, had a particular condition being referred to as "Itkar Rog" by the farmers. The plants were red in color, mostly on the leaves and the stem. Whole fields appear red even from a distance. There is stunted growth and very few bolls average number of bolls per plant seen and reported is only around 15-20 bolls/plant. There was no clear indication of particular hybrids being more adversely affected, as per the FFT, though some farmers felt that late duration varieties have survived the disease better in a comparative sense. Not all plots were uniformly affected.
* Farmers report that while the 'disease' symptoms [reddening of leaves] started to show sometime before the recent rains, full-blown outbreak spread rapidly within seven days of continuous rains around the middle of October
* Non-Bt Cotton plots were not affected to the same degree the symptoms that were witnessed on non-Bt Cotton plots were to a much lower degree and they were affected almost two weeks after the symptoms first showed on Bt Cotton plots. The problem emerged on and is spreading from Bt Cotton, farmers informed everywhere
* In plots such as Tanwar Hussain/Anwar Hussain's, where both Bt Cotton [Bunny Bt and MECH 184 Bt] were sown right next to non-Bt Cotton [Ankur 09], the contrasting picture was striking, with the Bt Cotton part of the land affected and reddened by the disease while the non-Bt Cotton plot is still green and is blooming. There were no differences in the management practices adopted on both plots and the rainfall/soil conditions were the same. Bt Cotton’s vulnerability to the damage seen, compared to non-Bt Cotton is apparent here. This was the case with Gore Miyan of Balapur too
* While farmers like Dutta Shettyba Desai have invested upto Rs. 10,440/- per acre, the yields obtained and expected are only around 2 quintals, which means a negative return of Rs. 7000/- per acre. There were other farmers too, whose costs of cultivation have not been covered by this year's produce and the market price it is fetching
* For many other Bt Cotton farmers, yields are much lower than what was promised by the company’s propaganda. Net Incomes were as low as Rs. 500/- per acre for some farmers. While expected yields were around 10-12 quintals per acre, the actual yields are around 4 quintals on an average
* On non-Bt Cotton fields, yields both obtained and expected are around the same, with the costs being much lower
* There is no bollworm attack reported either on Bt Cotton or on non-Bt Cotton plots
* Many Bt Cotton farmers have not only invested almost 400% more on seed cost alone, but had applied more fertilizers and other chemicals to save their crop. This meant more cost of cultivation per acre on Bt Cotton, decreasing the net returns further
* Number of sprays on Bt Cotton ranged from 1 to 5 sprays for sucking pests, with equal number of sprays on non-Bt Cotton too
* There is a lot of sucking pests infestation, of jassids specifically seen on Bt Cotton plots during the FFT's visit
* Bt Cotton companies like Rasi Seeds and Mahyco have begun investing in taking farmers to exposure visits to plots which are good and which have received intensive management inputs to start influencing farmers' seed purchase decisions for next year
* The team discovered that field trial plots of certain companies like J K Seeds are no better than the conditions found on commercially grown Bt cotton plots [stunted growth, reddening of plants, very low yields]
* Farmers have repeatedly observed that Bt Cotton is very stress-intolerant, unable to withstand conditions of lack of rains or excessive rains
* Farmers, who have visited Bollgard II plots of Mahyco, in an exposure trip organized by the company, have reported that they have been informed by the company that Bollgard II is effective against sucking pests also. This is reflective of the false propaganda taken up by the companies while selling Bollgard I
* It was found that in many Bunny Bt Cotton plots, germination rates were as low as 10-30%, reflective of the story of germination failure found in Andhra Pradesh. However, the company did not take responsibility for this failure of germination and there are very few farmers whose seed has been replaced by the company. For four bags of Bunny Bt Cotton bought, only one bag was replaced after germination failure was reported, even in those cases where replacement took place
* No refuge is being maintained around Bt Cotton plots
* Farmers are also reporting a similar problem of "Itkar Rog" from last year that had appeared in the month of October. In that year, the incidence was very low and was not economically damaging
* The team came across cases like that of Mohammed Zahid, who have been intimidated by the seed companies, when he lodged a complaint against defective seed a few years back this kind of intimidation has made many other farmers think twice about the usefulness of lodging complaints in case of crop failure
* Farmers also reported a variety of marketing strategies used by the companies to attract more and more farmers towards Bt Cotton. One of the farmers made an observation saying that the difference between Bt Cotton marketing and that of other seeds seems to be the entry of "brands" into seed business that of Monsanto’s Bollgard, in this case
* No teams of agriculture scientists or of department officials have visited the farmers in these villages and their fields to investigate into the large scale failure of crop so far and to advise them on measures to be taken up
Another important finding of the visit was that many farmers were experiencing soil quality deterioration in the fields in which Bt Cotton has been grown. For instance, Krishna Laxman Hemke of Karkheli reports a decrease in yield of around 5 quintals of blackgram on the plot that he had used to grow Bt Cotton. Even farmers who have been growing Bt Cotton in successive years continuously are reporting dramatic decreases in yields. This requires further investigation and attention of the government.
The scientists met mentioned that the current situation of the crop was because of excessive infestation of sucking pests, especially jassids, of magnesium and nitrogen deficiency, due to a drop in temperature, due to water logging and poor drainage in some fields and due to grey mildew. However, they reported that the jassid attack and deficiency of magnesium/nitrogen were the main reasons. If that is the case, how come non-Bt Cotton was not affected to the same extent, the FFT members sought to know. The scientists explained that the tolerance of Bt Cotton to stress was low, that their resistance to sucking pests was very low [compared to non-Bt Cotton] and that since there is a large number of bolls per plant on Bt Cotton as compared to non-Bt Cotton, the requirement for nutrients like magnesium is higher for these plants.
CONCLUSIONS & OBSERVATIONS:
* Aggressive marketing was allowed by the companies despite adverse reports by Maharashtra Government’s own surveys of Bt Cotton. For instance, an official report of Maharashtra Government in 2002-03 reported that Bt Cotton performance was not satisfactory, compared to non-Bt Cotton which was giving higher yields. In 2004-05, one of the major observations of the government was that sucking pests were higher on Bt Cotton, compared to non-Bt Cotton. The official reports also point out that organic cotton farmers in different districts are successful in getting higher yields than Bt Cotton farmers. The report also indicates that there is a greater susceptibility of Bt Cotton to wilt under heavy rain conditions, compared to other popular hybrids. Despite such observations, the government did not regulate the extent of sales and cultivation of Bt Cotton in the state. This resulted in large extents of monocropping of Bt Cotton in several parts of the state.
* If Bt Cotton requires different management practices like application of some micro-nutrients like magnesium, this was not informed to the farmers beforehand, during the marketing of Bt Cotton. If this is a new discovery by the government, this is unacceptable since field trials, if they were scientific and long enough, would have shown the additional/new management requirements for Bt Cotton. Similarly, marketing propaganda of Bt Cotton did not focus on the higher vulnerability of Bt Cotton to sucking pests. In fact, there are misleading advertisements by companies like Ankur which show that a particular variety of Bt Cotton is also resistant to sucking pests.
* The monocropping of Bt Cotton [upto almost 95% in some villages like Karkheli] has resulted in a greater vulnerability of the crops to various pests and diseases, as can be expected. In this case, it was an excessive and damaging incidence of sucking pests like jassids.
* Given that sucking pests are higher on Bt Cotton its vulnerability to higher incidence of various diseases spread by these sucking pests is higher too. The government should have had the foresight to analyse and anticipate such an eventuality.
* Bt Cotton’s stress intolerance and heightened vulnerability is evident by the differential situation found on Bt and non-Bt Cotton plots and is an observation made by dealers, scientists and farmers met.
* Farmers have undertaken all the recommended practices and have even sown as per the soil and irrigation conditions recommended by the companies/dealers [we came across farmers who explained why they had sown RCH 2Bt in a particular plot and Bunny Bt in another by citing the information provided on seed leaflets]. However, the adverse results are to be found irrespective of such management practices being adopted.
* Concerned government departments have not taken any pro-active steps to either assess the situation or to advice the farmers about what is to be done to salvage their crops.
* There are other serious issues which require urgent attention of the government including observations related to soil quality deterioration. This was reported by many farmers met. Yields are shown to be continually decreasing even by farmers who had been growing Bt Cotton successively in the past few years.
* Losses in just the village of Karkheli, for instance, are to the tune of 4 crore rupees [the FFT was informed by the sarpanch that the village had grown Bt cotton on around 65% of its 4000-odd acres of land]. There are many families whose entire survival mechanism for the coming year has been snatched away from them. Their high-interest debts are going to mount, with the family having to look for alternative livelihood options. This is a serious matter and the government needs to intervene pro-actively on this issue.
Given the official admissions in the earlier years of Bt Cotton’s vulnerability to wilt and this year’s picture of widespread losses, it is important that the government re-assess Bt Cotton and its suitability in the state. The government has to come up with a scientific and conclusive picture on the suitability of Bt Cotton including its vulnerabilities and unpredictabilities and disseminate the findings widely amongst farmers so that they can make informed choices and not be lured by aggressive marketing
DEMANDS & RECOMMENDATIONS
* The government has to initiate a scientific and comprehensive assessment of the extent of losses on Cotton in general, and on Bt Cotton in particular and assess the differences in performance of Bt Cotton and non-Bt Cotton in comparable situations.
* Through this and the government’s findings from previous years, it has to come up with conclusive recommendations on the suitability of Bt Cotton for the farmers of the state
* Simple and farmer-friendly mechanisms for fixing liability on the Bt Cotton companies for the losses being experienced at present and for compensating farmers to be put into place immediately (for technology deficiencies and for not informing farmers adequately about particular management practices to be adopted to overcome shortcomings of the technology)
2.Report of a Fact Finding Team's visit to Warangal district
Purpose: To look into the performance of Bt Cotton in Warangal district, as part of the Monitoring & Evaluation Committee [MEC]’s effort to monitor Bt Cotton across five states of India .
A Fact Finding Team [FFT] consisting of Shri S Malla Reddy, President, AP Rythu Sangam (a farmers’ union consisting of more than 300,000 members); Shri Krishna Reddy, President of the Warangal District Unit of AP Rythu Sangam; Shri P Damoder of Sarvodaya Youth Organisation; Shri Rajashekar and Ms Kavitha Kuruganti of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and some media representatives visited villages and cotton fields in Warangal district and had detailed discussions with farmers on November 6th and 7th, 2005.
Context : When the first reports of an unusual disease on Bt Cotton came out, a Fact Finding Team visited villages and inspected fields in Warangal district on September 9th, 2005 on behalf of the Monitoring & Evaluation Committee [MEC] set up by civil society organizations. At that point of time, the unusual disease was reported from Warangal district on an estimated extent of 50,000 acres. The government soon after this confirmed the disease to be Tobacco Streak Virus [TSV] being spread by the high incidence of sucking pests like thrips, mostly on Bt Cotton and the incidence was confirmed on more than one lakh hectares of Bt Cotton from various districts like Adilabad, Khammam, Guntur and Warangal.
The full impact of the disease and high incidence of sucking pests is now being felt by farmers in districts like Adilabad and Warangal, towards the end of the season, at the time of harvest. The issue has come to the notice of local elected leaders and parliamentarians in Warangal district [especially from the Opposition] who wanted the government to come to the rescue of farmers (October 25th, local papers). Earlier, several senior political leaders and parliamentarians of the district visited villages/fields in Hasanparthi and Sangem blocks, along with officials like the Joint Director of Agriculture [JDA, the senior most agriculture department official in the district] and with media representatives. As per media reports, when the JDA argued that the crop loss was due to climatic conditions and due to excessive incidence of pests and diseases this season, indignant farmers showed the visiting teams crops in neighboring plots which were doing well if the crop loss is due to environmental reasons, how are the adjacent plots performing so well, the farmers demanded to know. The visiting teams reportedly concluded that RCH2 Bt (of Rasi Seeds company, in its second year of commercial cultivation) seeds were defective/adulterated and the officials promised to get the seed samples tested. The political leaders, who estimated the losses to the farmers to be around 400 crores of rupees (US$ 8 millions), wanted the government to put into place adequate compensation mechanisms. The district administration promised to come up with proposals to support farmers in this context.
On 27th October, the administration did announce a series of proposed measures in a press conference. The District Collector, along with senior agriculture scientists and officials agreed that almost all the farmers who had grown RCH2Bt Cotton had incurred heavy losses. They argued that the only way forward was to try and salvage the crop as much as possible RCH2 Bt hybrid is a 180-195 day duration crop and there are still 20-35 days’ left, they said. Four recommendations were put forward for this purpose (a) spray 2% DAP; (b) grow intercrops; (c) apply a booster dose of urea of upto ten kilos an acre and (d) spray adequate quantities of monocrotophos on the crop.
The government also announced that if needed, monocrotophos would be supplied on subsidy for all the 1.2 lakh acres of RCH2 Bt Cotton, with the estimates showing that the quantity needed would be 40 thousand litres and the cost to be incurred by the government being 1.2 crores of rupees. The District Collector informed that maize seed would be provided on subsidy to be grown as the next crop.
The JDA blamed climatic conditions [low rainfall initially and recent heavy downpours] for the losses being witnessed, and the agriculture scientists said that RCH2 is intolerant to such conditions.
It was in this context that the FFT, consisting of farmers’ unions v\isited the district on November 6th and 7th, 2005.
Members of the Fact Finding Team [FFT] visited villages in Atmakur and Sangem blocks and later met with the Joint Director-Agriculture, Dr M Jayaraj, in his office. Media representatives also visited farmers and their fields along with the team.
Villages visited include Akkampeta, Sthambampalli, Oorugonda, Durgampeta, Oglapur and Damera. The team also visited the same fields that were visited during the FF visit in September (from Sthambampalli & Oorugonda villages).
Some of the farmers met include Ravi s/o Ramulu, Hamsala Reddy, Kumaraswamy s/o Lingareddy, Raju s/o Rajalingam (non-Bt), Ooradi Sammaiah, Erukula Ramana (non-Bt), Vemula Sadaiah, K Prathap Reddy s/o Mallareddy [all in Akkampeta village], B Babu Rao (Sarpanch of Sthambampalli village), K Shankar Rao s/o Manikayya, H Narsing Rao, Kole Sambaiah, K Chander Rao [from Sthambampalli village], Chelupuri Sambaiah, Chelpuri Mallaiah, Chennareddy, Tirupati Reddy [non-Bt], Venkatalaxmi w/o Bhikshapati [fields in Oorugonda/Durgampet villages], Akula Komaraiah (non-Bt), Ravipal Reddy [in Oglapur village], Arrepalli Easwaraiah, Damera Rajaiah (non-Bt), Kumalu, Ashoda Raju, Narayan Reddy, Ravinder Reddy [in Damera village].
* Despite many different interventions by farmers (to boost boron/magnesium supply, to take care of sucking pests with chemical sprays and application of more fertilizers), the crop condition is in a bad state. The crop looks very apparently reddened, with individual plants stunted, leaves reddened and shriveled, curled upwards or downwards with very few squares and bolls. These various interventions only meant that the cost of cultivation increased, with none of the farmers reporting that the situation had been brought under control by the use of various products as per recommendations.
* Farmers are reporting an average of one quintal of cotton harvested so far per acre, with another 2-3 quintals expected per acre. The average cost incurred per acre is around 8-9 thousand rupees, with just the chemicals applied costing around 4 to 5 thousand rupees.
* The price being obtained per quintal of cotton sold ranged from a ridiculously low amount of Rs. 700/quintal to Rs. 1400/-/quintal. This means that for a majority of Bt cotton farmers, even the cost of cultivation cannot be recovered from the yields and their market value.
* In the case of non-Bt Cotton farmers, the average (expected) yields are around 7-8 quintals per acre, with the cost of cultivation being about the same as Bt Cotton farms.
* Agricultural workers are reporting difficulty in picking Bt Cotton the number of bolls is very low and they are having to search the entire plant carefully, which is time consuming. The number of bolls per plant in various Bt Cotton fields (including MECH hybrids brought from Maharashtra, Bunny Bt, Mallika Bt and Pro-Agro marketed RCH 368 Bt hybrids) is around 15-40, with a majority of the fields showing only 15-20 bolls/plant.
* There is also high incidence of spodoptera on many of the fields and expensive pesticides had to be used for the control of the pest.
* All the Bt Cotton fields visited show a high and damaging incidence of sucking pests [thrips, jassids, aphids etc.] and diseases like TSV and angular leaf spot.
* In the case of some farmers like Vemula Sadaiah of Akkampeta village, the contrast between Bt Cotton and non-Bt Cotton is starkly visible. On the same land, with the same management practices, he had grown Bt Cotton on one side and the non-Bt Cotton seeds supplied for refuge rows on another side. The Bt Cotton side of the farm is visibly red and has stunted growth of plants with very low yields expectable.
* The damage is most apparent and of a very high, non-recoverable degree on RCH2 Bt Cotton plots, followed by MECH hybrids, Bunny Bt, RCH 368 Bt etc., in that order within the Bt Cotton plots.
* Farmers are beginning to realize that Bt Cotton hybrids are presenting peculiar problems in terms of diseases and sucking pests year after year and many are beginning to question the way the government permitted the commercial release of the technology.
Discussions with the JDA also revealed that the department of agriculture, unlike in other states, is not monitoring Bt Cotton on the ground and it has been probably left to agriculture scientists to do so. Out of a total cotton area of 146,756 hectares in the district, 91,150 hectares are under different kinds of Bt Cotton, as per the data provided by the JDA. This constitutes 62% of the cotton land.
* A monoculture of Bt Cotton, that too of Bollgard brand, has been allowed on a large extent of area this shows a complete lack of foresight and understanding in regulation and crop planning. The vulnerability of such a monoculture to large scale failure in case of pest and disease outbreak is obvious. Even in terms of resistance management, this presents a very poor model as even scientific studies/models of CICR would show. In countries like Australia, when Bt Cotton was introduced, it was done so with a ceiling of only 30% of total cotton land permitted under Bt Cotton. Such a widespread monoculture was also the result of aggressive marketing adopted by the Bt Cotton companies. However, there was no regulation evident of such marketing. The government is clearly accountable for lack of regulation in this case.
* The vulnerability of Bt Cotton crop to greater incidence of sucking pests is well recognized. This also implies a greater susceptibility of Bt Cotton to a variety of diseases in this case, it is being reported by scientists that thrips are the vectors for the spread of tobacco streak virus that is causing the stunted growth and reddening of Bt Cotton plants. All of this should have been anticipated by the scientists/companies promoting the crop and the regulators too.
* As one perceptive farmer, Ravinder Reddy of Damera village, pointed out, farmers have some hope left of salvaging their crop even after an attack of bollworm with proper control measures, the crop can be salvaged for at least the second and subsequent flushes. However, high incidence of sucking pests and diseases means very little chances of recovery for the plant. Bt Cotton, with its non-holistic approach to pest management, means that farmers are faced with a variety of new problems even if the bollworm is indeed controlled. In years like this year, where there has been a very low incidence of bollworm in any case in all crops, Bt Cotton seeds clearly show what they lack and what they can cause is this how seeds for a predominantly small and marginal farmers’ community should be, a reductionist pest-by-pest approach?
* There is also much confusion being transmitted to the farmers, adding to their costs. While the department of agriculture analyses the current problem as that resulting from micro-nutrient deficiencies (the soils of Warangal lack certain micro-nutrients like boron and magnesium, we were informed by the JDA; "such nutrients are required more in the case of Bt Cotton"), the agriculture scientists say that the current problem is because of TSV and the vulnerability of particular Bt Cotton hybrids to adverse weather conditions. Farmers who have tried to adopt recommended practices for both situations have come up with unimpressive results. Citing environmental reasons is ridiculous given that non-Bt Cotton plots are faring well, right next to Bt Cotton plots. Similarly, if Bt Cotton needed other management practices than what the farmers are used to (application of micro-nutrients), why were they not educated beforehand? What kind of proof does the government and do the companies have, to show that they have introduced the Bt Cotton seeds, only after analyzing such differential management requirements and have also educated farmers about it? Have they talked about this in their pre-sales propaganda? Who is to be made accountable now?
* Why is the administration, which also is supposed to have a District Level Committee [DLC] headed by the District Collector under the EPA rules, coming up with recommendations to be adopted by the farmers only in the last 20-30 days of the crop season? What was done since August, when the first reports of the disease and other problems began pouring in?
* Monocrotophos, which is now being recommended in the final days of the crop season, is scheduled to be banned from India. Spending 1.2 crores of rupees on this chemical, a Class I product, at this juncture of Monocrotophos’s life and the crop season, is suspect. Incidentally, there are very effective and inexpensive methods to control sucking pests (and transmitted diseases) through NPM approaches, which do not require the use of any synthetic pesticides. In any case, the huge subsidy that the government would provide would go to the chemical corporations and not the farmers. What kind of yield increases is the government promising with the measures that it is recommending? Where is the liability on the Bt Cotton companies in all this, given that public funds would be spent to save farmers whereas the companies are going scot-free?
* There have been views expressed in various quarters that the extent of loss is such that the companies cannot ever hope to compensate the farmers for their losses, leave alone cover for the expected and promised yields. Because of this, the pressure not to give in and pay compensation to even a few farmers is very high on the companies [lest thousands of other farmers line up with claims]. The companies would do their best to deny that their technology or seed has got anything to do with the current situation. Should companies be allowed to sell more than what they can be made accountable for? Did the companies not think about such a situation before they went in for a technology, given that the current situation was a distinct possibility? Did they inform farmers about the serious shortcomings of particular hybrids and the Bt technology? This is also a valuable lesson for all those Indian companies lining up at the doors of Monsanto to get the Bollgard gene sub-licensed to them at huge costs. On the one hand is the huge amount of royalty that the American multinational is bound to collect from these small Indian companies (who have enjoyed some amount of credibility with cotton farmers so far, in different pockets of the country) and on the other hand is the distinct possibility of the crop failing for a variety of reasons, and therefore, compensation to be paid to farmers. How are these companies going to survive in such a situation?
DEMANDS & RECOMMENDATIONS:
* Admit that the current situation is a problem resulting from the Bt technology this is a case of monoculture crops that are vulnerable to sucking pests and therefore, higher incidence of disease, as well as unpredictable and unusual incidence of pests/diseases. Acknowledge the differences clearly being seen between Bt Cotton and non-Bt Cotton fields on the ground
* Make a comprehensive assessment of the extent of losses and all the reasons for the same
* Stop providing recommendations which would imply more costs to farmers unless such recommendations are accompanied by guarantees of better results; advocate non-pesticidal, inexpensive and effective ways of controlling sucking pests
* Resolve the differences between the agriculture department and research scientists in their analysis and recommendations
* Make such government (agriculture research) officials who have recommended particular brands of Bt Cotton with farmers liable for the losses seen now
* Put into place immediately liability mechanisms where the responsible companies and those providing the technology pay adequate compensation to farmers.
* Stop Bt Cotton approvals in the state of Andhra Pradesh and support non-chemical, non-GE alternatives which are fetching very good results for farmers who are practicing such alternatives.