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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Friday, February 11, 2011

BT cotton trail

BT cotton - the first GM crop to be cultivated commercially in India was introduced under the pretext of being a non-food crop!
There were many questions raised about the safety and ethics of the Genetically Modified technology across the globe. The most important and urgently to be addressed issue being that of long term adverse impact to health . From an activists angle though health of the environment, other species and humans could have been the order. Still there were many unanswered questions what ever ones perspective was.
The corporates conveniently (obviously hand in hand with the govt agencies) gave a suitable twist. If GM becomes a question of health, ethics and safety there will be no end, they understood. Hence to hasten up the introduction of GM crop they took a very ‘intelligent’ actually a skewed and perverse stand. That cotton was a non-food crop. So while the debate on health etc continues, they can introduce cotton, supposedly non food crop!
Of course, needless to say their will prevailed. So BT cotton was introduced in India in 2002.
Now firstly, it’s a traditional practice to feed the stalks to cattle after harvest. Secondly the cotton seed oil has been in to our food cycle ever since packaged oil industry started flourishing.
So on both these counts the GM industry lied. Our Govt / regulation agencies went with them.

Now that it is 8 years since BT has come in to the field and the industry is now pushing very hard for GM in to food crops.
BT is Bacillus thurengiensis, a soil bacteria which is supposed to have pest repelling intrinsic property.
Though there has been loads of proof of BT affecting soil, cattle, humans and the ecology in toto, the Govt agencies have been soft pedaling and the industry has been looking the other way. Yeah, we know its only business and nothing else for them.

Just one name – Monsanto shud give us all the doubts. But somehow all villains have prevailed.

Dont some questions come foremost to any thinking individual?

1/ Has the BT cotton affected the cattle which fed on them? If so hasn’t this already come in to human food cycle in the form of milk and other dairy produce?

2/ If cotton seed oil was used as an edible oil (either directly or as adulterated/mixed produce along with other packaged/ blended oil?) what is its status today?

3/ What happens to the traditional varieties? What if this BT fallacy is conclusively proven, is there a path to retrace?

4/ Has this technology helped in increasing the yield as promised by the industry? Has the economics been done at all?

5/ What happens to the seed sovereignty? Farmers cannot have their own seeds. Season after season they have to go back to these corporates for seeds. That means price and availability will be the corporates will in the coming years aint?

Hmm.. so last week, yours truly (accompanied by KK & W) went on a cotton trail in Karnataka – Harihar, Haveri, Dharwad, to check on all these issues.

KK should be coming out with a better report or even a published paper for sure. But still I go ahead and pen my points n views out here.

But Wait..for the 2nd part.

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