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Jakarta Post
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 time.

"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.

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