INDIA: Agriculture department seizes BT cotton seeds in E. Godavari

VISAKHAPATNAM: A special squad of officials from the Agriculture department seized BT cotton seeds worth Rs 2.13 lakhfrom dealers at Tuni in East Godavari district on June 26.

BT cotton transgenic cotton in which bacillus thuringenesis (BT) gene is implanted to fight bollworm and other pests that the crop is prone to has not yielded the desired results in Andhra Pradesh, according to studies conducted by experts.

Earlier this year, the genetic engineering approval committee of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests issued orders banning cultivation of BT cotton in Andhra Pradesh, but allowing it in northern India.

The three varieties of transgenic cotton introduced by Monsanto -Mahyco in Andhra Pradesh MECH 162, MECH 12 and MECH 184 were found wanting. It was claimed that they would be more pest-resistant, thereby resulting in reduction of pesticide use, and give greater yields. But these claims were not proven on the field.

However, in spite of the ban, it is alleged that BT cotton seed was freely available in the cotton belt Guntur, Krishna and Prakasam districts.
At the recent meeting of the zilla parishad in Guntur, people's representatives of all parties expressed concern over the sale of the banned seed.

Mr Raghuveera Reddy, State Agriculture Minister, during a recent video conference, instructed officials of different districts to invoke the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act to book the sellers of such spurious seeds. In particular, he wanted them to concentrate on Guntur, Warangal and Kurnool from where the spurious seed originated.

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Added: June 29, 2005 Source: Agencies
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