Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Bt cotton falling to pest

Jul 05 2017 : The Times of India (Chennai)
Bt cotton falling to pest, Maha worried

Mumbai: Genetically modified or Bt cotton is no longer resistant to pink bollworm -a major pest --in Maharashtra, prompting the state government to write to the Union government to seek its intervention.A research report by Dr K R Kranthi, former director of Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), shows that pink bollworm has developed resistance to Bollgard-II Bt cotton not only in Maha rashtra but other cotton-growing states as well. Bollgard-II is the Bt hybrid variety that was introduced in 2010. “There are only two benefits of Bt cotton. One, it controls bollworm, due to which the yield is protected.Two, it reduces use of insecticides meant for bollworm control. Currently, cotton growers do not get either benefit,“ Dr Kranthi told TOI via email. Bijay Kumar, principal secretary, agriculture department, said, “There are nearly 85 private Bt cotton seed-producing companies in the state and we have been getting several complaints of crop failure from farmers. In most cases, we cannot do much to help affected farmers. We want the Central government to come up with a clear set of guilde lines for us in this sit uation.“
The issue as sumes significance given that Maharash tra is the largest cot ton-growing state in the country . Nearly 40 lakh hectares or 35% of the cultivatable area is under cotton production. Nearly 96% cottongrowing farmers in the state use BG-II Bt cotton seeds for cultivation.
The state government has found itself in a tight spot and asked the Union government to denotify Bt cotton seed varieties that are prone to pink bollworm.

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