November 21, 2002 Thursday
Local cotton affected by genetically modified
crop, JAKARTA POST
A study by a post-graduate student from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture
(IPB) has shown that genetically modified cotton grown experimentally
in South Sulawesi has contaminated areas around the plantation.
Maharmah Nadir, the researcher, said on Tuesday that the contamination
could be detected through molecular observation only.
Maharmah conducted her study from September 2001 through August 2002,
at a South Sulawesi genetically modified cotton plantation owned and funded
by American firm PT Monagro Kimia. "Local cotton farmers will only find
out that their cotton has been polluted by the modified cotton at harvest
"With their crops being similar to the genetically modified cotton, they
could face legal charges of growing genetically modified cotton without
the permission of Monsanto (the firm that holds the patent for the modified
cotton)," she told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Dadang Gusyana, spokesman for Monagro Kimia, said on Wednesday that his
company doubted the methodology of the latest study, and therefore could
not yet accept its findings.
"We have been conducting research for three years and we have not yet
found any adverse impact (from the genetically modified cotton)," he said.
He also claimed that Maharmah had conducted her study in Monagro Kimia's
fields without obtaining permission from the company.
Maharmah carried out her research in Bajeng subdistrict, South Sulawesi,
where the Bolgar strain of genetically modified cotton is being cultivated
close by local cotton of the Kanesia 7 variety.
She said that if the contaminated local cotton was used as raw material
for oil, the oil could not be exported to countries that banned unlabeled
genetically modified agricultural and food products.
Therefore, she suggested that local cotton farmers and Monagro Kimia should
stagger their crops so that they would be harvested at different times.
"Another alternative would be for the genetically modified cotton and
cotton plants to be quarantined," she said.