Its failure has again led to the farmer suicides across Maharashtra. Now, since the officials have admitted that Bt. Cotton has failed, we need to do away with the genetically modified seed.
AS PER recent admission of Dr C.D. Mayee, President of Indian Society for Cotton Improvement, who was instrumental in giving blanket permission for commercial trials of genetically modified (GM) Bt.cotton seed notoriously known as killer seed in part of cotton growing region of India where more than 2 lakhs cotton farmers committed suicides in last decade to US seed giant Monsanto Inc that Cotton yield in the country seems to be on a downswing in the last three years.
As per official figures of ICAR Bt.cotton yield per hectare hit a record 554 kg in 2007-08. Since then, it has been dropping, touching 486 kg/hectare in 2009-10 before rising to 496 kg/hectare last season. This season, too, the yield is expected to be drop down to significant low level because the Bt strains and hybrids, that account for nearly 95 per cent of the total area under cotton, are losing their strength but the Cotton research scientists have a different take on the drop in yield but fact is that area under cotton has touched a record 121.91 lakh hectares (lh) this year.
When the yield hit a record 554 kg/hectare in 2007-08, the area under cotton was 94.14 lh and Scientists point out to Maharashtra as an example of more new areas coming under cotton. Dr. Mayee added. The problem with growing cotton in non-traditional areas is that the productivity is low. Some farmers in Maharashtra have taken to cotton farming without the requisite experience. It is one of the reasons for some committing suicide. Since January, 704 farmers have reportedly committed suicide in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra,” said officials in Maharashtra Mantralaya.
Growing cotton in areas where it has never been sown is a problem since it could be rain-fed. This year, rainfall has been erratic and it has affected cotton, said the official. Cotton farmers shifting to Bollgard II that is supposed to be superior to Bollgard I pests, including sucking pests, leaf curl virus and jassids, are creating problems in cotton, resulting maximum use of pesticide and giving significant drop on production front. In last five years cultivation cost has jumped from Rs.5000/- hector has jumped to Rs.30,000/- hector in Maharashtra and average yield and stable cost has caused huge economic losses to agrarian community in cotton growing areas and hence cotton farmers suicides have been restarted ,Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandoan Samiti (VJAS) informed in press release today. The complete ban of killer seed Bt.cotton in rain fed areas of India is must and further permission of commercial trials any GM seed should be stopped immediately, Tiwari said.