- Today's Topics in 'AgBioView' -
* Views on Illegal bt!
* As Govt Stalls Bt Cotton, Farmers Losing Bollworm Battle
* Ag Biotech Websites - Latin America
* ISIS Funding
* Debate Continues on Anthrax and Bt....
* CONGRESS MAY CLEAR GMO SALES IN BRAZIL
* Re: India's Bt cotton
* GM crop poll
* Liar, Liar
* Scientists develop GM walnut plants
From: Suresh Naik
Subject: My Views on Illegal bt!
Recent upheavals over sale and crop of illegal Bt cotton in Gujarats
leaves many unanswered questions which Government, both state and
central, can't avoid answering. Although, it was illegal on the
Navabharats part to sell with Bt cotton prior to its permission from
GEAC. This is something law will deal and should. The foremost
questions which ordinary person and farmers would ask is, if
scientist and authorities understand that Bt is important for Indian
cotton growers, why such delay in giving formal permission? How
could state government ignore if the variety has been registered and
sold in the state since then? The contention by state dept. that it
doesn't have infrastructure to test for the transgenics doesn't hold
true. Apart from this, no one thought of verifying the claim and
source of Navabharat's resistance (CLAIM:-revolutionary hybrid seed
from Navbharat Seeds Pvt Ltd that ensures immunity from bollworm; -
yield potential of 22 quintals/acre; - short maturity period of
140-150 days). This would have made the picture clearer. I smell
foul play here!!!
Now that it is in open, why not get the answers to above questions
rather then finger pointing. One should keep in mind that every
measure taken hereafter should benefit the farmers and Indian
agriculture in wider sense. Faster the better. Farmers have realized
the power of technology. Lets not play with their lives and
earnings. They want technology that gives them respite from the crop
loss due to insect. They don't care how it comes. They care for the
end not the means. Now that it is open and they have the taste of it,
they demand the same, every year. They know the alternative. Lets
not them deny them of it. The move by Navabharat may be seen as
unprofessional. Creating many more opponents of the technology.
nd likes of Shiva may say "Globalisation is contributing to the
Talibanisation of the world." But lets look at the positive side. It
has brought the issue for public debate and make it positive. This
has made farmers aware and pro-technology. Govt. should seize the
opportunity to drive the debate into positive terrain and let it not
be hijacked by anti groups for whatever reason they fight for. Let
not the unsavory developments in Gujarat further put the clock back.
This is what is feared. The Gujarat episode will make those who
support GM difficult, as many GREENS are already up in arms. The
knee jerk reactions are well known from Indian establishment, which
becomes catastrophic in long run. Lets not play into hands of
proponents of some highly confused geopolitical theory about foreign
powers that do not want to see a strong India.
Now that DBT, ministry of textile, State Govt., all know its
advantage and have shown interest in keeping the GM cotton and none
other then Dr. Paroda said "bollworm, a major pest that devastates
cotton crops and causes an estimated rs 500-800 crore losses in
India" and "We are using 35,000 metric tonnes of pesticide for
cotton, out of a total of 70,000 metric tonnes". Also "use of "Bt
cotton" has led to a 3-27 per cent increase in cotton yield in
countries where it is being grown".
Let more than 40% of Indian cotton acreage be under Bt, like US and
Australia. So that mills need not to import cotton to maintain the
quality. We have taken more years for the test that took China an
year and half to clear. No more time to waste. LET NEXT COTTON SOWING
SEASON (JUNE 2002) SEE LEGAL COTTON GROWN IN INDIA.
National Chemical Laboratory , Pune , INDIA
As Govt Stalls Bt Cotton, Farmers Losing Bollworm Battle
SANJEEV CHOPRA, Indian Express, Nov 8, 2001
BATHINDA, NOVEMBER 7: THERE is a variety of cotton that can fight off
bollworm, has no apparent side-effects and has cleared trials. It
goes by the name of Bt Cotton, and the Government doesn't want it.
Try explaining this to Sukhwinder Singh of Mehan village in this
district of Punjab.
This year, like any other year, he had sown cotton on his 35-acre
farm. Then came the American Bollworm attack, forcing him to destroy
standing crop on nine acres, resow another nine with hybrid seeds and
spray what was left with pesticides numerous times. Still, his yield
was less than half of what he got last year. "Earlier, I used to get
a yield of about nine quintals an acre, it is now only about four
quintals an acre, which hardly pays back my investment." ’ His mind
is made. Next year, he plans to cut the land under cotton by half.
Sukhvinder is not alone. Across the cotton belt of the north, which
straddles Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, the complaints are similar.
If anything, cotton farmers in Punjab have suffered less than their
counterparts in Haryana and Rajasthan. A severe American Bollworm
attack, an unbroken spell of wet weather, spurious pesticides and
non-standardised seeds have hit the cotton farmer hard. Experts agree
on what’s the answer: A cotton seed resistant to bollworm, and good
pesticides. They also agree on what’s the alternative scenario:
doomed cotton crop in the north.
Agreeing that the sowing of cotton is "no longer economically
viable’’, Regional Research Station Director of Punjab Agricultural
University, Bathinda, Sham Singh Dhillon feels its future "oes not
seem bright" unless hybrid varieties of seeds are brought in."If a
good cotton variety such as Bt Cotton had been there, the situation
could have been different," he says.
In the northern belt, cotton production is likely to fall below 20
lakh bales against a projected estimate of 35 lakh bales this year.
Last year, the region had produced 26.5 lakh bales of cotton. Figures
available with the Northern India Cotton Association indicate that
cotton production in Haryana will touch merely 5 lakh bales as
against over 10 lakh bales last year, in Rajasthan 4 lakh bales as
against 8.5 lakh bales last year, while in Punjab the situation is
just a bit better, with production expected to touch 10 lakh bales as
against 8.5 lakh bales last year. (1 lakh - 100,000)
Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh says the total losses run up to as
much as Rs 400 crore in these three states. In Haryana, losses are as
much as Rs 125 crore. Across the cotton-growing areas, farmers like
Dharam Pal of Bhangu village have found the yields plummeting. He
says a majority of farmers will get almost no return from the crop.
In his own fields, the yield is down to barely 1.5 quintals per acre.
The state that has been worst hit is Rajasthan. Mahender Kamra, a
commission agent in Sangriya mandi, told The Indian Express that in
some cases yields have fallen to as low as 25 kg an acre.(1 crore -
The president of the Northern India Cotton Association, Ashok Kapur,
cautions: "It is high time that certified seeds with high yield and
bollworm resistance were brought in, otherwise there is no future for
cotton in the north."
Kapur too feels things could have been different had Bt Cotton been
For now, where it is possible, farmers are switching back to more
predictable crops, such as wheat, where they know what to expect and
the cushion of Minimum Support Price at least assures them a fixed
return. Farmers have accumulated debts which they can’t pay off. In
Rajasthan, commission agents Shyam Lal and Devi Lal Godara feel "he
losses have been so heavy that unless there is a bumper crop for
three years continuously, the growers cannot break even."
"I wish to sell my land, but there are no buyers," says Gurdev Singh
of village Bullanana near Bathinda. He adds bitterly: "Let the
Government cultivate cotton and we will work for wages. At least I
will have money coming or, at they very least, we should be provided
crop insurance." Kirpal Singh of Ahmed Gartarewala in Haryana echoes
his views. ‘‘It is better to keep money in the bank than grow
cotton," he says. "At least we get 9-per cent interest in the bank."
Ag Biotech Websites - Latin America
From: Javier Verastegui
Please see below 16 selected biotechnology sites in Latin America,
most are only in Spanish or Portuguese, some have English versions:
1. FAB-Argentinean Forum of Biotecnologia, an association (Argentina):
2. CONABIA-National Commission of Agricultural Biotechnology
3. PORQUE BIOTECNOLOGIA- A public awareness website of ASA, the
Argentinean Seed Producers Association:
4. AAPRESID-Association of Direct Sowing Farmers (Argentina):
5. BIO SIDUS S.A.- the most advanced innovative firm in L.A.
6. EJB-Electronic Journal of Biotechnology (Chile):
7. BIOPLANET- A Chilean biotech magazine (Chile):
8. CIGB-Cuba's Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology Center (Cuba):
9. ABRABI-Association of Brazilian Biotechnology Enterprises (Brazil):
10. EMBRAPA-Brazilian Enterprise of Agricultural Research (Brazil):
11. CENARGEN-EMBRAPA, Genetic Resources & Biotechnology Center
12. CTNBio-National Technical Commission of Biosafety (Brazil):
13. ANBio-Brazilian Biosafety Association (Brazil):
14. BIOTECNOLOGIA- A Brazilian biotech magazine (Brazil):
15. AGRO BIO Mexico- Association of Ag-Biotech Firms (Mexico):
16. CAMPONUEVO-An electronic agricultural magazine (Mexico):
From: "Roger & Carolyn Morton"
Subject: ISIS Funding
Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2001 20:07:30 +1100
Recently we learnt that ISIS (The Institute of Science in Society; www.i-sis.org ; PO Box 32097, London NW1 OXR) have a position available. The "remuneration: £15 000 to £20 000 pa". Since this seems like rather a lot of money for such an organisation I was wondering if anyone out there had any evidence or ideas about where this organisation gets it money.
Debate Continues on Anthrax and Bt......
From: ; Posted to:
> Prof. Joseph Cummins writes:
> The comment seems somewhat disingenuous because B anthracis with
> complete sets of toxin- bearing plasmids are not found in most farm
You made the comments about the dangers of Bt spray not me. I happen
to trust the deliberations of the scientists of the world when they
state that Bt is safe. It is you that has been saying it is
dangerous. I am just pointing out your and ISIS' hypocrisy on this
I challenge you to simultaneously defend the precautionary principle and the use of Bt sprays. In this defence take account of:
1. Your previous statements on the dangers of the use of Bt sprays in
reference to horizontal gene transfer to B anthracis.
2. The fact that you have previously stated that B. anthracis
infested sites are only well-marked "*for the most part*".
>"The precautionary principle states that if there are reasonable
>scientific grounds for believing that a new process or product may not
>be safe, it should not be introduced until we have convincing evidence
>that the risks are small and are outweighed by the benefits. It can
>also be applied to existing technologies when new evidence appears
>suggesting that they are more dangerous than we had thought"
Considering the precautionary principle you have 4 options
1 Present evidence that indicates that there are "reasonable
scientific grounds" for believing that Bt crops are more dangerous
than Bt sprays and continue to argue for the banning of Bt crops
2. Admit that the risk of Bt crops is much lower than the risk of Bt
sprays and since Bt sprays are very safe then Bt crops must also be
safe with respect to Anthrax.
3. Call for an immediate ban of the use of both Bt sprays and Bt
4. Admit that your blatherings regarding Bt and Ba are completely
baseless and do not consitute "reasonable scientific grounds" for
Mae-Wan Ho wrote:
> Bt and Ba bacteria readily exchange genes horizontally, normal Bt
>spraying per se does not
> increase the chance of such gene transfer provided care is taken to avoid
> sites with previous anthrax outbreaks.
Or where there is a single B. anthraxis bacterium in the soil that
you don't know about. Prof. Cummins tells me that we only know where
these places are "*for the most part*". Isn't this a big enough risk
to worry about? How have you decided the risk is not large enough to
worry about? How does the magnitude of this risk rate relative to the
risks of Bt crop you are constantly harping on? How have you decided
one risk is larger than the other?
What a ludicrous statement "normal Bt spraying per se does not
increase the chance of such gene transfer ". Consider this thought
experiment. If you have an environment with one 'Ba' bacteria per
cubic metre and one 'Bt' bacteria per cubic meter and then you spray
'Bt' bacteria so that the concentration of 'Bt' increase to 10 per
cubic meter you most definitely have increased the risk of horizontal
gene transfer. Dr Ho, do you know anything about science, probability
or horizontal gene transfer?
> 2. We do not support growing Bt-crops, a practice emphatically not
> the same as spraying Bt bacteria, and raises other concerns which
> many scientists including ourselves have commented on.
So does this mean you are withdrawing your earlier claim that Bt
crops pose a risk with respect to horizontal gene transfer to B.
anthracis? Can we look forward to a press release announcing this
withdrawal and a public apology for any distress you may have caused
farmers and consumers of cotton?
CONGRESS MAY CLEAR GMO SALES IN BRAZIL
November 7, 2001
SAO PAULO, Brazil - A financial paper was cited as saying on Wednesday that Brazil's Congressional Commission on Biotechnology will soon present a proposal for a law that could break a lengthy legal deadlock over genetically modified crop sales. The office of Congressman Confucio Moura, the commission spokesman, was cited as saying that the details of the bill were still being worked out but Moura expected to present it to Congress on Tuesday. Moura`s office could not confirm or deny details of the bill presented in the Valor Economico financial paper.
If approved, the paper said, the bill would give the government`s advisory body on biotechnology, the CTNBio, total authority over assigning environmental impact studies for GM crops that biotech companies hope to sell in Brazil, such as Monsanto Co.`s Roundup Ready GM soybeans. A 5-year environmental study - ordered by the court in 1998 - remains the main obstacle blocking the sale of Monsanto GM seeds in Brazil, despite repeated efforts by the company
and the government to reverse the court injunction.
Date: 8 Nov 2001 15:59:10 -0000
From: "Bob MacGregor"
Subject: Re: India's Bt cotton
Monsanto and Mayco must have sweet and sour feelings about recent developments. It seems increasingly clear that the government will be forced to allow the release of Bt cotton for forthcoming planting seasons (or, at least, unable to do anything to prevent its planting).
In addition, the publicity around current developments (particularly the high praise from farmers about performance of the Bt seeds) is bound to accentuate demand throughout cotton-growing regions of Indian. Theoretically, this should make Mayco happy, since they have been patiently spending millions for years to satisfy the government regulators that Bt cotton is OK, and now that dam may be breached. However, I suspect that now the genie is truly out of the bottle.
Are Gujarat cotton farmers going to purchase new Bt cotton seed next year, or replant their own? It remains to be seen whether this particular "hybrid" is stable and productive, but, in the current climate and with the media attention, if I were an Indian cotton farmer with Bt cotton in the field, I'd consider each seed to be like a gold nugget of opportunity.
The black market in seeds should thrive for the next few years at least. Still, the huge cotton acreage in Indian should allow plenty of scope for seed sales by Mayco-- whenever they are finally released to sell their cotton seed on the open market.
Date: 8 Nov 2001 14:28:03 -0000
From: "Indur M. Goklany"
Subject: GM crop poll
Some of your readers may be interested in the poll at the following
Date: 8 Nov 2001 12:24:03 -0000
From: Mary Murphy
Subject: Liar, Liar
Vandana Shiva’s done it again. Lying about technology and lying about Monsanto to foment more violence and unrest in India. Recent claims by her and others imply that Monsanto is somehow to blame for a rogue company stealing Monsanto’s technology (a practice Ms. Shiva obviously supports as she abhors the concept of private property and the inherent responsible use of that property by those who own it) and then illegally selling it.
For those who publish and believe Ms. Shiva’s lies, remember that her past lies and disinformation campaigns have resulted in the destruction of property and burning of research crops (she falsely claimed they had non-existent “terminator” genes in them) designed to help reduce Indian farmers' reliance on chemical insecticides. That time as well, Ms. Shiva claimed this non-existent technology was Monsanto’s fault, even though Monsanto did not own or develop the so-called “terminator.”
Indeed, Monsanto had publicly stated they would not develop that type of technology, which was owned by another seed company and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The technology Ms. Shiva claimed was snuck into Indian cotton had actually (and this remains true to date) never even left the confines of laboratory test tubes in Texas. Yet, the result was years of lost research and the destruction of farmers' valuable land to further Ms. Shiva’s misguided and publicly rejected political transformation goals.
The research crops Ms. Shiva helped burn to the ground were indeed the same type of crops which were pirated and sold in India to farmers desperate for a better way of farming. Why were they forced to buy these crops (used in North America, South Africa and other countries) from the black market? Because Ms. Shiva’s terrorism campaign, entitled “cremate Monsanto” -- during which she helped illegally destroy government sponsored research and field trials -- delayed the Indian government’s ability to finish testing which was necessary for them to approve this technology.
Each year thousands of Indian farmers' crops fail due to pests, and hundreds of farmers commit suicide each year as a result. Many of these farmers do so by drinking chemical insecticides that failed to protect their crops. The crops Ms. Shiva protests and helps burn are designed to resist pests without the use of chemical insecticides.
Desperate farmers are trying to improve the way they grow crops and support their families, and only desire the benefits of technology which is safely and successfully used on million of acres of cotton in other countries. But they are turning to pirates and the black market to obtain this technology, thanks to Ms. Shiva’s campaigns.
Like her support for the “cremate Monsanto” campaign, Ms. Shiva likes to demonize a large company to stir up violence and unrest among poor Indian farmers. As with her “cremate Monsanto” campaign, again Monsanto is not the culprit and indeed has been the company acting responsibly both following Indian law while striving to help Indian farmers.
Shame on Ms. Shiva and shame on those who help spread her lies…
Scientists develop GM walnut plants
Walnuts grown from genetically modified plants could soon be in supermarkets.
Although the nuts themselves will not be genetically altered, the roots of the walnut trees will be modified to fight infection.
The hybrid plants are designed to combat a bug called Agrobacterium which causes cancerous growths in roots.
New Scientist magazine reports that the bug gets into the roots and transfers tumour-inducing genes which invade the plant's DNA.
The new plants block the tumour genes using an immune-like defence mechanism.
Abhaya Dandekar and a team at the University of California, Davis, made GM varieties of thale cress and tomato that have versions of the tumour-causing genes in their DNA.
This acts as a kind of in-built vaccine, triggering a response which chops up invading genetic material from Agrobacterium.
A standard cultivation technique ensures that walnut trees modified the same way will not produce altered genes in their fruit.
New Scientist reported: "Usually, the chosen fruiting variety is grafted on to a root stock that copes well with local conditions. In this case, non-GM plants would be grafted onto modified roots without the two sets of genes mixing."