Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Action demanded against Bt seed manufacturers-TIMES OF INDIA

Printed from

Action demanded against Bt seed manufacturers

NAGPUR: With the state cotton federation now officially acknowledging a big loss to cotton crop, farmers' pressure group Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti has demanded that the government should seek compensation to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore from Bt cotton seed manufacturers and insecticide, pesticide makers for the losses suffered by farmers.

"In the state government-sponsored campaign, over 24 lakh farmers took to genetically modified seeds in 34 lakh hectares. The campaign was led by its own seed company Mahyco which is among those that have obtained license from a multinational company for its Bt cotton seeds. The gullible farmers fell prey to the advertisement blitz by the seed companies which claimed that Bt seeds would give bumper crops even in rain fed areas like Vidarbha where irrigation facilities are abysmally low,'' alleged VJAS president Kishore Tiwari.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Tiwari said the cotton farmers' total expenses thus added up to Rs 9,170 crore including the additional expenditure on costly pesticides and insecticides that were used in large quantities as the cotton crop had a variety of infestation right from the start. "While the agriculture department advisory clearly states that Bt seeds cultivation could be risky in rain fed areas, the government did little to discourage farmers who gave up food crops like jowar and maize and shifted to Bt cotton growing as a cash crop," said Tiwari.

"It is now the state government's vicarious liability. It should take strong action against the Bt seed manufacturers as well as chemical pesticide companies who made huge profits at the cost of farmers. The yields are as low as 25% in some area. Farmers who were dreaming of high yields of 20 quintals an acre got only two quintals. The state government can drag these companies to the Monopoly and Restricted Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) citing the misleading advertisements," said Tiwari.

Citing the government's relief policy adopted in 2005-06 under which it paid Rs 216 crore as compensation to cotton growers whose crop suffered damage from 'lalya' (micronutrient deficiency that reddens the leaves and stunts plant growth), he said, "Instead of wasting public money, the government should legally force erring seed companies and recover the losses on behalf of farmers."

VJAS will be holding two conventions of cotton growers, on Thursday at Pandharkawda and on Friday at Kinwat to facilitate documentation of the losses suffered by the farmers. "We will pass on the data to the government in the hope that it would act against the companies," said Tiwari citing the action taken by the Andhra government against the Bt seed company before the MRTPC which helped drastically reduce the seed rates. "If the state government fails to act, VJAS will move the court in the matter," the farmers' leader said.

No comments: