India to Destroy Illegal Gene-Altered Cotton Crops

India to Destroy Illegal Gene-Altered Cotton Crops

India to destroy illegally grown GM crops



INDIA: November 23, 2001

AHMEDABAD, India - Authorities in India's western Gujarat state have begun

procurement of illegally grown gene-engineered cotton from farmers to

prevent replanting of the seeds, officials said yesterday.

"We have asked all district collectors to take steps to procure BT cotton

reaching markets. We plan to procure BT cotton to the extent possible," P.K

Ghosh, principal secretary Forests and Environment in Gujarat, told Reuters. The government has
already procured about 120 tonnes of bacillus

thuringiensis (BT) cotton, he said.

Earlier this month, several hundred farmers in Gujarat, the country's

largest cotton growing state, were ordered to hand over genetically

modified (GM) cotton crops to the government because commercial production

of GM crops is illegal.

The discovery of illegal growing of BT cotton had triggered a nation-wide

debate among environmentalists and pro-farmer lobbies about the

government's stand on commercialisation of GM crops.

India does not allow commercial production of genetically modified crops,

but has allowed a few companies to carry out field trials under government


While green activists have called for a 10-year moratorium on introduction

of GM crops, pro-farmer lobbies have questioned the delay in giving a green

signal for gene-engineered crops that could multiply yields and reduce

input costs.

Farmers in Gujarat planted BT cotton, sold by a private firm, on an

estimated 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres).

Ghosh said the cotton procured by the government would be ginned and seeds

separated and destroyed.

"The objective behind the exercise is to prevent farmers from using the

seeds for sowing next year," he said.

Though India is a leading cotton growing country, the per-hectare yield is

only around 300 kg compared with the world average of around 650 kg. Officials said the
government would launch a campaign among the farmers to

warn them against possible hazards of planting GM seeds on health and


"We have nothing against GM crops, but as long as it is not legally

permitted we have to caution farmers against planting them," Ghosh said.

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