The Times of India
August 8, 2002
ENVIRONMENTALIST DEMANDS STUDY OF BT COTTON
Prominent city based environmentalist, Ashish Kothari has written to
chief ministers of Maharashtra and other cotton producing states demanding
a comprehensive study of the Bt cotton seeds in view of the damaging reports
emnating from China. Although the centre has given a green signal to the
commercial sale of genetically modified Bt cotton, Kothari has drawn attention
to a study in China showing that transgenic cotton can cause serious ecological
damage and the benefits supposedly accruing from it have also been found
to be unsustainable in the long run. Kothari, a founder-member of the
environmental group Kalpavriksh, said that the study conducted by the
Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences assumes significance as corporate
giants like Monsanto, manufacturers of Bt cotton in India, cite the success
of the transgenic crop in China as an example while hardselling the crop.
The study has mentioned four critical points which only prove the environmental
hazard likely tobe caused by Bt cotton, he said. Reported elaborately
by the Chinese news agency Xinhua, the study states that there was a decline
in the number of natural enemies of bollworm, the most dangerous pest
of cotton, in Bt cotton fields. Moreover, the population of pests other
than bollworm has also increased in Bt cotton fields, study points out.
"These pests can become major problem for the cotton in coming years,"
he said. In fact, the Ninjang Institute study has specifically mentioned
that bollworm was likely to develop resistance to Bt cotton within 8 to
10 years after planting, thereby affecting the long-term sustainability
of the production process.
Lastly, the study shows that there is marked decrease in diversity of
insects while there was a higher incidence of pests. "The pests are becoming
dominant in the absence of variety of insects,"said Kothari. In the wake
of these crucial developments, Kothari has urged the chief ministers of
cotton producing states to immediately halt introduction of Bt cotton
in their respective states. He has asked these states to undertake a further
long-term studies on the ecological, social and economic impacts of Bt
cotton, preferrably conducted in consultation with independent scientists,
NGOs and farmers. Kothari has said in his letter that conventional production
of cotton through organic process should be encouraged. "Enterprising
farmers in different states have shown immense growth in crop yeild by
using innovation in organic cotton,"he stated.