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Greenpeace Calls on India Government to Stop Planting of Genetically Engineered Cotton

The Associated Press/BANGALORE, India

By S. SRINIVASAN
Associated Press Writer

Greenpeace mount pressure on biotech cotton

MAR. 3 10:37 A.M. ET Greenpeace urged the Indian government Thursday to
scrap licenses for U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. to sell genetically
modified cotton seeds, claiming they threaten the environment and had
failed.

St. Louis-based Monsanto's BT cotton is the only genetically modified crop
allowed in India, a reluctant entrant into biotechnology. The company has
faced stiff opposition from environmental groups in India since 2002, when
it was granted licenses to sell three varieties of its seeds.

A government committee is to decide Friday whether to extend the licenses
-- which are due to expire this month -- and consider 10 others they have
applied for.
"Monsanto cotton has comprehensively failed and we demand that the
government immediately revoke permission to it," said Greenpeace campaigner
Divya Raghunandan.

She said several crops had failed and Greenpeace activists on Thursday
shared evidence with the government committee.

Raghunandan also argued that the adverse side effects of GM seeds have not
been studied adequately, and that the seeds are environmentally hazardous
and could contaminate the genes of native varieties through cross
pollination.

BT cotton cultivation is allowed in six states in southern and western
India. Last month, authorities in Andhra Pradesh state ordered Monsanto's
Indian subsidiary -- Mahyco-Monsanto -- to pay 25 million rupees
(US$570,000; euro433,657) in compensation to farmers who used BT cotton in
2003 but the crop failed.

Monsanto is challenging the order in court, said company spokeswoman Ranjan
Smetacek.