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Vidarbha farmers, widows 'mourn' decade of BT cotton (With Image)

Maharashtra,Environment/Wildlife,Immigration/Law/Rights, Mon, 26 Mar 2012 IANS

Nagpur, March 26 (IANS) Thousands of farmers and farm widows across Vidarbha Monday 'mourned' the tenth anniversary of the introduction of US-based GM Seed's revolutionary "BT Cotton" in India, an activist group said here.


Groups of farmers and widows gathered in Bhamraja, Hiware, Bothbodan, Kosara, Kawatha and other village squares, raised slogans against BT Cotton and burnt cotton bales to register their protest.


"They demanded a complete ban on BT Cotton which was granted experimental permission in 10,000 hectares around the country ten years ago," said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishor Tiwari.


"Today, from 10,000 hectares, it has gone to over 12 million hectares, especially after Maharashtra permitted commercial cultivation trials of BT cotton from June 2005," Tiwari told IANS.


The VJAS has been fighting the cause of Maharashtra farmers opposed to BT cotton, which, he claimed is the root cause of farmers' suicides claiming over 10,000 lives so far in the state.


He further claimed that since 2005, BT Cotton crop has failed in 400,000 hectares and in 4.20 million hectares this year alone.


"Vidarbha is a classic example of a wrong selection of GM technology in dry regions since BT Cotton requires proper irrigation facilities that are lacking here," Tiwari pointed out.


He said the VJAS has demanded a special discussion by parliament on cotton farmers' crises since the past ten years of BT cotton and setting up of a special parliamentary committee to inquire into the mess created by BT cotton.


In a report released yesterday, a group of NGOs under the umbrella of 'Coalition for GM-free India' has contended that the government's own data proved that BT cotton has resulted in stagnant yields, pest resistance and evolution of new pest and disease attacks.


"The real yield gains in the past decade, from 278 kg/hectare to 470 kg/hectare was seen between 2001-2005 when BT cotton accounted for only 5.6 percent of the total cotton cultivation area," said Kiran Vissa, co-convenor of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture.


Thereafter, till 2012, when the BT cotton area covered 90 percent of the total cotton cultivation area, the yield noticed was 470 kg/hectare to only 481 kg/hectare, according to the study report.


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