India Rejects Commercialization of GE Cotton

India Rejects Commercialization of GE Cotton
Big Setback For Monsanto - India Refuses GM Cotton


NEW DELHI/LONDON - Greenpeace today congratulated India,
one of the world's leading cotton growing countries (1), for its
decision to not allow the commercial growing of genetically
engineered (GE) cotton but maintain the country's GE free status.

The decision, taken earlier this week by the Indian
Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), is a significant set
back for Monsanto, whose local partner, the seed company Mahyco had
hoped to introduce the so called Bt Bollgard cotton (2) for
commercial production across up to potentially 8.5 million
hectares. Monsanto's Bt cotton would have been the first GE crop to
be commercialised in India.

The Indian authority ordered an additional year of field
trials for the GE cotton to be conducted under an independent
supervision of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The
authorities concluded that the data provided by the companies
Monsanto/Mahyco was not sufficient as their field trials were not
conducted during a normal cotton season, and therefore, no valid
information on the crops performance could be determined.

"At a time when the issue of GE crops is highly
controversial, increasing scientific evidence emerges about
potentially harmful effects of GE crops to the environment. No
country should blindly rush into taking a decision on commercial
planting," said Michelle Chawla, Genetic Engineering Campaigner for
Greenpeace India. "The fact that Monsanto/Mahyco was hastening the
process on the basis of inadequate data is deplorable."

The companies Monsanto/Mahyco did not inform the Indian
authorities of the emerging problem with their GE cotton in China,
where the pest, cotton bollworm, has already developed some
resistance to the Bt crops and the farmers have to use pesticides
in addition. They also failed to provide any comprehensive
scientific data on the effects of GE Bt cotton on natural enemies
of the cotton bollworm, such as the lacewing, which is used as a
biological pest control as an alternative to chemical pesticides.

"Monsanto/Mahyco intended to introduce to India an
outdated GE product that has failed to get market approval in
Europe because of environmental and health concerns. This crop also
contains an antibiotic resistance gene, which may render diseases
immune to an important antibiotic used in India against
tuberculosis, Streptomycin," Chawla added.

Information contact: Michelle Chawla, Genetic Engineering
Campaigner for Greenpeace India Tel: + 91 9820182304 (mob) or +9111
6962932; Isabelle Meister, Greenpeace International, Tel: +41 1
4474195; Greenpeace International Press Office, Teresa Merilainen,
Tel: +3120 5236637.

(1) 21% of the world's acreage in cotton is planted in India.

(2) Bt stands for an insecticide usually produced by the
soil bacteria Bacillus thuringensis. The Bt Bollgard also contains
two antibiotic resistance marker genes that provide resistance
against the antibiotics Kanamycin and Streptomycin, used in human

(3) Cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera)

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