1.Front Page: "Cotton farmer crushed" - "Life sucking Bt"
2.Appeal for imposition of ban on Bt cotton following multiple animal deaths in Haryana State
3.GEAC clears limited field trials of GM corn
1.Front Page lead story in Eenaadu today - "Cotton farmer crushed" - "Life sucking Bt"

From: Kavitha Kuruganti
Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA)
Andhra Pradesh, India;

For a few days now, including on this Sunday, Eenaadu, the leading telugu daily in Andhra Pradesh has been filing prominent reports from different parts of Andhra Pradesh about the plight of cotton farmers. What is ironical is that this comes amidst industry-sponsored visits of financial media and wire services' reporters, to select villages and farmers, flown in from mumbai and delhi, to trumpet the success of Bt Cotton this year! To see reports coming in from the same village and quoting the same one or two farmers from different media houses was somewhat disgusting - to see that these media personnel are not keen on highlighting independently various observations on the ground of the adverse effects of Bt Cotton but are more than happy to just highlight the industry-showcased spots. It is no different with regulators, as we have been saying again and again. When it comes to monitoring field trials, they allow the crop developers to take them to the best locations and generalise
from there!

CSA team members have visited various districts in the past two weeks to assess the cotton situation too and we were hoping to present the situation after the harvesting is over. However, preliminary picture from Burgumpahad in Khammam district shows that non-Bt Cotton, even the rows sown as refuge, have survived the water stress than the main Bt Cotton plots. There is large scale wilting and spodoptera attack. In Parvatagiri and Sangem mandal, in various villages like Yenugal, Somaram, Gangadevipalli, there are complaints that even the investment will not be recovered this year. Further, there are reports of human allergies - the local medical practitioners admit that these cases are on the rise after the entry of Bt Cotton in the villages. In Guntur district, farmers are complaining about spodoptera and mealy bug attack in addition to wilting.

The percentage of irrigated cotton within total cotton cultivation in Andhra Pradesh is just around 19.2%, as per information obtained by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. It should be remembered that the Acharya N G Ranga Agriculture University, in its advisory to farmers called "Vyavasaya Panchangam", has stated that Bt Cotton cannot take extreme weather conditions, compared to non-bt Cotton.

The following is a translation of the Eenaadu report today:


This year, Bt Cotton has crushed the farmers of the state. Because of unfavourable weather conditions and other reasons, the yields have declined to half. In several places, the yield will not touch even two quintals per acre. Pesticides had to be used heavily on genetically modified cotton which was hyped up as something that would not require chemical use. The labour costs have also increased. As a consequence, farmers from all over the state are reeling under losses estimated at four thousand crore rupees!

Last year, farmers who opted for Bt Cotton obtained upto 15 quintals of yield. The market price was also favourable. Seeing this, farmers in the state abandoned crops like pulses, vegetables, food grains etc., and opted for Bt Cotton. In addition to 28 lakh acres of last year, this year, an additional five lakh acres were sown to cotton and farmers started dreaming about 'white gold'.

Even the seed companies promoted their Bt Cotton seed aggressively making tall claims and making it look as though cotton cultivation now required only sowing of seed and harvesting at the end. They made farmers forget that apart from bollworm protection, Bt Cotton is similar to normal cotton.

Even the rulers of the state, who were claiming that they had reduced the price of the seed, could not estimate the effects to be anticipated from Bt Cotton seeds. Last year, the yields were good because of timely rains and because many areas had seen cotton cultivation for the first time. However, this season, there were late rains, inadequate supply of chemical fertilisers, heavy rains in between and no rains from September onwards - all of this contributed to drastic decline in yields.

In Warangal district, in many places where Mahyco's Neeraja Bt Cotton was sown, the cotton plants are dying as soon as irrigation is provided. Root rot is the reason for this. Choppa Lakshmi Narsayya, Gundu Narsayya, Narra Nagaraju, Noone Komarayya and others, farmers from Rajapalle village of Narsampet mandal of Warangal district are today a dejected lot as they got only two to three quintals of yield per acre. They informed that they had never seen the crop getting destroyed with irrigation before! They spent nearly five thousand rupees on chemical pesticides. Where each plant should have around 150 bolls, there are hardly 15 bolls on each plant this season, they pointed out.

At the rate of four quintals' loss per acre, for the 33,62,957 acres of cotton sown, the total loss is estimated at around 1.34 crore quintals. The support price announced by the Central Government is at Rs. 3000/-. The total loss in its monetary value would be around Rs. 4036 crores of rupees.

The Warangal market yard is proof of reduced yields

Warangal market yard is a prominent location for cotton trading in the region - last year, in October 257,908 quintals and 539,530 quintals was the inflow of cotton into this market in November. This year, October saw only 163,346 quintals and upto November 11th, only 98,669 quintals of cotton was brought in for sale. This shows that nearly three lakh quintals of cotton inflow was reduced in these two months in this market yard. Market experts point out that this is a result of reduced yields.

Seed cost alone is Rs. 500 crores

The state government had ordered the seed companies to sell 450 gms of seed at Rs. 750/- per container and at the rate of two packets per acre, the cost of seed is Rs. 1500/- per acre. Within the total cotton sown in the state this season, 95% is Bt Cotton. At this rate, just the seed cost on 35 lakh acres is Rs. 500 crores.

Pesticide costs alone are Rs. 4000/acre

Even if bollworm menace has been reduced, many new diseases and their incidence has increased on cotton. These include mealy bug, bronze wilt, reddening of leaves, spodoptera etc. To control these new pests and diseases, farmers had to spend upto Rs. 4000/- per acre without much effect, said Yerrolla Sanjivayya of Kotulanaduma village, Yelkathurti mandal of Karimnagar district. "Last year, we used monocrotophos a couple of times and could harvest five flushes of cotton upto January. This year, my season ended with just two harvests", he complained. Other farmers like Eeswari and Kamala pointed out that they had borrowed at interest rates of 3% per month for investing on Bt Cotton and have now been left with just two quintals per acre.

40% yield loss: Agriculture department

Senior officials of the agriculture department alerted the agriculture minister Mr Raghuveera Reddy about a week ago that cotton yields will decline by nearly 40% this year. It is learnt that they reported the reasons as adverse weather conditions, no rains, high temperature etc.

Telangana farmers suffer large losses

Dr Jalapati Rao, scientist at the regional research station of the agriculture university pointed out that it is not advisable to grow Bt Cotton under adverse weather conditions. "Growth, flowering, boll formation etc., have all declined. The loss is around ten to fifteen thousand rupees per acre", he said.

In Guntur & Krishna districts too

The adverse weather conditions have affected cotton yields, informed Dr Gopinath, scientist in the regional research station in Guntur. Rainfed cotton cultivation has not yielded more than four quintals per acre, he informed. Irrigated plots have yielded upto eight quintals.
2.Appeal for imposition of ban on BT cotton all over India and President Rule in Haryana State due to death of lakhs of animals due to BT cotton and disastrous ill effects of BT cotton on health of lakhs of humans and animals

Kind attention: Hon'ble President of India, Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi-1

Hon'ble President Madam,

I the undersigned hereby bring to your kind notice that in the state of Haryana genetically modified BT cotton is being cultivated for past about 5-7 years now. Our recent state-wide survey conducted during the year 2007-2008 shows that lakhs of animals including buffaloes and sheep have died due to consumption of the following:

1. BT cotton seeds fed to animals as feed.

2. BT cotton seed based oilcake fed to animals as feed.

3. Fresh Leaves and other plant parts of BT cotton plants.

Government of Andhra Pradesh (Animal Husbandry Department) has confirmed presence of Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) in the BT cotton plants vide its letters dated 12 May 2006 Number Lr. Roc. No. 13 TFAL/2006 and 12 March 2007 Number Lr. Roc. No. 117 /TFAL/2007 (copies of the letters attached as Annexure 1a and 1b). As your goodself might be aware HCN is a deadly toxin which can kill the animals and humans instantly. Inspite of this vital information on acute toxicity of BT cotton available since 12 May 2006, and the warning of Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh for not grazing animals in BT cotton fields (copy attached as Annexure 2) Government of Haryana has failed in protecting the farmers and their animals from proven deadly BT cotton.

According to our survey in Haryana state, animals are dying at a large scale every year and lakhs of animals have died in last 5-7 years and even greater number of animals are affected by various ailments caused by BT cotton toxicity like abortion, premature delivery, skin problems, reduction in milk yield up to 90 per cent, prolapse of uterus, remaining off feed for long periods, etc. (Media reports attached as Annexure 3 to 10)

Humans are also affected by toxicity of BT cotton and farming families and labor families particularly working in BT cotton fields/factories have to spend huge amount of money on skin and allergy ailments due to BT cotton. Many of them have to abandon their work in BT cotton fields/factories. (Media reports attached as Annexure 3 to 10)
Farmers have lost billions of rupees due to death of their valuable animals including buffaloes and sheep, loss of man days due to loss in health, expenditure on ill animals and humans, loss due to failed crops of BT cotton, loss due to reduction in reproductive and milk yielding capacity of animals, loss in crop yields due to significant loss in soil fertility due to toxic effect of BT cotton on soil and micro-organisms of soil including earthworms and other vital organisms. (Media reports attached as Annexure 3 to 10).
It is also worth noting that due to huge losses caused due to BT cotton lakhs of farmers have become bankrupt.

When governments, administration and scientists have ignored the problem of farmers, farm and cotton factory labors your good office can save the farmers and labors by banning BT cotton and other genetically modified crops in India.

I appeal to your kind office to ban the BT cotton and other such genetically modified crop plants all over India and impose president rule in Haryana state for failure of government in protecting the human rights and livelihood of majority of people involved in farming, animal husbandry and cotton processing activities. Farmers and labors affected by BT cotton toxicity should also be given due compensation for loss of animals, health, mandays and other expenditure.

Yours faithfully,
(Sudhir Kumar Kaura)                       Dated: 15 November, 2008
PhD                                          Enclosure: as above
Coordinator, Kisan Bachao Andolan (Save Farmer Movement)
10 C Friends Colony, Hisar-125004  Phone: 00 91 1662 229163
Web-site:      E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

1. Copy to The Chief Justice of India for consideration of this memorandum as Public Interest Litigation for considering immediate stay / ban on BT cotton in India and other desired action as appropriate.

With kind regards,
Sudhir Kumar Kaura
PhD Genetics
01662229163 (from with in India),
00911662229163 (from outside India)

Sender's E-mail Address: sudhirkaura 'AT' (replace 'AT' by @)
3.GEAC clears limited field trials of GM corn
Harish Damodaran
Hindu Business Line, Nov. 17 2008

*Bio-safety trials to be carried out in select State farm varsities. 

New Delhi, The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has permitted Monsanto India Ltd to conduct limited field trials of corn hybrids that are genetically modified (GM) to confer resistance to the corn borer insect pest and application of its ‘Roundup’ herbicide, according to highly placed sources.

The sources said the clearance for ‘bio-safety research level-1 field trials under confined conditions’ of the GM corn (maize) hybrids was granted at GEAC’s meeting last week.

3-4 years

“It basically allows the company to carry out bio-safety trials in one-acre plots at select State Agricultural University-owned farms. These will be followed by level-2 trials on bigger 2.5-acre plots, which would then set the stage for largescale trials on farmers’ fields. It will probably take 3-4 years for the product to be finally released for commercial cultivation”, they added.

3-gene combination

Monsanto’s GM corn hybrids basically contain a three-gene stacked combination. Two of these genes (cry1A.105 and cry2Ab2), derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (a common soil bacterium) and based on a proprietary ‘89034 event’, code for proteins that act against to a broad spectrum of lepidopteran insect pests. These include the European corn borer, Asian corn borer and sugarcane borer.

The third gene (‘NK603 event’) allows the corn hybrids to be Roundup-ready’, i.e. tolerant to application of glyphosate, the active ingredient in ‘Roundup’ herbicide. Monsanto is now selling its ‘Roundup’ herbicide formulations in the country mainly for pre-emergent use, i.e. prior to the plant’s vegetative growth stage.

While spraying glyphosate on ordinary corn destroys the crop along with the weeds (as the chemical cannot distinguish between the two), the corn that is genetically engineered to resist ‘Roundup’ confines the potency to just the weeds, making it amenable to post-emergent applications as well.

Monsanto India profit

During 2007-08, Monsanto India reported a profit after tax of Rs 54.30 crore (excluding profits from divesture of product lines) on net sales of Rs 363.54 crore. The bulk of the company’s sales come from two businesses hybrid corn seed and ‘Roundup’ herbicides. Over the last couple of years, Monsanto has sold all its other herbicide product businesses, including butachlor and alachlor (‘Machete’, ‘Fastmix’ and ‘Lasso’ brands) and sulfosulfuron (‘Leader’).


“Through GM corn, the company would be looking to boost sales of its seeds as well as herbicide formulations. With farm labour becoming increasingly costly as well as unavailability, there is obviously potential for replacing manual weeding with herbicides, the marketing for which is growing annually by 15-20 per cent,” the sources pointed out.