INDIA: GM cotton cultivation expected to double in 2007

MUMBAI: The coming season, cultivation of genetically modified cotton in India is expected to double over the next year, said K F Jhunjhunwala, president of the East India Cotton Association here on August 10.

The president further pointed out that farmers are opting for more disease-resistant seeds amid a rise in the total cotton production in the country.

Jhunjhunwala said that of the total area of 8.8 million hectares under the crop in the year to the end of Sept 2006, 1.3 million were planted with transgenic Bt cotton and the coming season it should be around 3.2 million hectares.

However the total area under cotton cultivation was likely to remain around 9 million hectares as over a period of time, Bt cotton may touch 70-75 percent of the production.

The switchover to genetically modified seeds was seen as the main reason for the increase in production as it offered protection against major pests.

During 2002, India allowed farmers to plant transgenic cotton containing a gene from bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium species, which causes lethal paralysis in the digestive tract of bollworm.

Jhunjhunwala also informed that total cotton crop in the season ending September 2006 would be 24.5 million bales, slightly higher than the 24.3 million produced a year ago.

Further exports would surge to a record 4.5 to 5 million bales from 1 million during the same comparable period because of carryover stocks and a good harvest.

Whereas production next year could easily touch 27 million bales, if there was a slight increase in yields, he added.

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Added: August 11, 2006 Source: Agencies
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