1. Agriculture World

Eminent Scientists, Agriculturists Calls on Government to Allow Bt Cotton Field Trials

Sugandh Bhatnagar
Sugandh Bhatnagar
Cotton Plant

Eminent scientists and agriculture experts from Karnataka demand to allow Biosafety Regulatory Level 1 (BRL 1) field trials of Bt Cotton and Maize in Karnataka. After the success of Bt Cotton in India, since 2002 no other crop (enhanced through biotechnology) has been released in India. While farmers have been demanding to get hold of such technologies to improve crop productivity and control insect attacks, nothing has been approved by the Government so far.

Dr B V Patil, Former Vice Chancellor and Senior Entomologist, University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, Karnataka said, Adoption of new innovative methods/ practices by the farming community will not only increase the food production which feeds the growing population but also make agriculture more sustainable and profitable to the farmers, ultimately fulfilling the Hon'ble Prime Minister's vision of doubling farmers' income.

One such innovative method is the adoption of successful and proven GM technology. Our farmers have already seen the tremendous benefit of Bt gene which when integrated to cotton plant, totally managed the bollworm incidence particularly, Helicoverpa bollworm and helped them to get higher benefits from the cotton crop. Searching for new ideas i.e Research should continue till we achieve our desired goal/objective.

Dr KK Narayan, Founder Director, Sthayika Seeds Pvt. Ltd, Director and CEO of Agrigenome Labs Pvt. Ltd, Director, Foundation for Advanced Training in Plant Breeding (ATPBR), said Cotton and Maize are important crops for the State and the Country. They are plagued by several pests, the most important ones being bollworms for cotton and now, in recent times, the armyworm in Maize.  The Bt technology which has been developed in these crops effectively addresses these pests. Further, weeding is a much-needed and highly labor-intensive operation for any crop.

With the increasing dearth of manual labor in the agricultural sector, especially during peak requirement periods, the herbicide tolerance technology incorporated into these crops would not only be a boon to farmers but also reduce drudgery and help in preventing soil erosion as the surface will not be disturbed. Such technologies are in wide use all over the world.  In our own country, insect-protected cotton which has the Bt gene incorporated in it is cultivated in over 95% of the total cotton acreage. 

Dr SA Patil, Former Director IARI and Former VC, University of Agriculture Sciences, Dharwad said, Bt cotton has tremendously reduced the pesticide usage on cotton, while otherwise cotton was known as the pesticides loving crop. Oil from Bt cotton is consumed after removing gossypol, day-in and day-out and there is no harm proved through the consumption of cotton oil. There are 11 different GM crops grown successfully throughout the world. 90% of the corn, soybean and cotton growing area in the USA is covered by the GM versions.

In the past our scientists from Indian Agriculture Research Institute, Delhi University and University of Agriculture Sciences, Dharwad had developed high efficacy GM crops, however, none could see the light of the day due to all unscientific reasons. It is the time when India has to think scientifically. Public opinion for a scientific endeavor does not have any meaning, as such opinions should be from the scientific experts who understand the nitty-gritty of a scientific experiment. Unfortunately, it seems that unscientific ways have become the order of the day today in India.

Data on cotton production, however, shows the potential of technology where the production of cotton has reached to 400lakh bales from 140 lakh bales due to Bt cotton. India is proud of cotton production, and this was only possible because of the GM cotton.

Like this article?

Hey! I am Sugandh Bhatnagar. Did you liked this article and have suggestions to improve this article? Mail me your suggestions and feedback.

Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters