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Mild Death in the Ground: The inner story of B.T. seeds

Cotton cultivation in the western part of Orissa has increased leaps and bounds these days.  According to the data provided by Economic Survey 2007-08(Govt. of Orissa) it is going on in 56000, hectare land where as it was cultivated on 5000 hectare land in 1980-81.

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Presently the undivided district of Balangir has grown cotton in 20600 hectare land, undivided Kalahandi on 22120 hectare land. Though it is a profitable business but the poor farmer gets little of it because most of the profits are distributed among the middle men and that is why the entire western districts of Orissa turns in to valley of hunger.

Now the situation is going to be grave in other way for the central Govt. is going to give green signal for cultivation of B.T. cotton having been moved by the imperialistic approach. This will destroy the very foundation of the land turning it into a poison ground and wasteland where nothing will grow in years to come. It is high time now that the intellectuals of this country should come together and find some remedial measures.

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According to some reliable sources B.T. cotton cultivation is going on in some pockets of the western districts (Balangir and Kalahandi) but the official diktat for it will definitely bring inevitable doomsday. Before the problem rise its ugly head we should be well aware of what is B.T. Cotton and what are the ramifications it will have if grown.

B.T. cotton:-

Neither it is an indigenous seed nor a hybrid one rather the genesis is traceable to alternation in gene. Bacillus Thuringiensis or BT is a naturally occurring soil bacterium used by farmers to control Lepidopteron insects because of a toxin it produces. Through genetic engineering, scientists have introduced the gene responsible for making the toxin into a range of crops, including cotton.

Bt expresses the qualities of the insecticidal gene throughout the growing cycle of the plant. Cotton crops are very susceptible to pest attacks and use up more than 10 per cent of the world’s pesticides and over 25 per cent of insecticides. This gene has been entered in the seed by using modern biotechnological mechanism. This product was first brought to India by an American company named “Monsanto” in the year 1995.

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Danger that looms large in BT seeds:-

1. This happens in case of other seeds as well. This is a barren seed. It means second generation seed cannot grow a plant. The farmer has to again purchase seed to grow plant.

2. Apart from that plant grown out of this seed is poisonous from its root to leaf. In case of cotton plant it is poisonous throughout. As a result of which deadly impacts of B.T. cotton cannot be ruled out for goats, sheep as well as for men. This fact is again corroborated by the admittance of local medical colleges that by eating leafs of B.T. cotton plants many cattle have succumbed to death in Andhrapradesh and in Orissa. Veterinary surgeons have warned the farmers time and again that they should keep a kin vigil, so that the cattle would not take their way to the field where the deadly plant is grown. It has also come to notice that the farmers who works in the B.T. cotton grown field suffers from swelling nose, headache, chest pain etc.

3. Some make tall claim that, since the plant is poisonous from its root it will not be a hampered by insects but it is a sheer blasphemy again.  Because after some years the insects develop resistance and can live thereby causing damage to the plant. After this it becomes difficult on the part of men to control them. Then the farmer is again forced to purchase high quality insecticide which cost dearly to the poor farmer.

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4.  Because of its poisonous nature many benevolent insect fall prey. Bee, butterflies, birds, grasshopper etc lost their lives prematurely. Other plants and grass also stop growing because of this fatal blow.

5. Constant and intermittent use of this lead to an automatic process where the other seeds that is grown on the land also get the quality of B.T. and become barren in next generation. In such a case the farmer has to again buy seed.

6. And after some years for each plantation for each product the farmer has to buy seeds. When such a situation will be thriving in the country the company will have monopoly over the market. And dear readers the producers of B.T. seeds are the companies owned by America. If the food security of the country will be in the hand of American company then it will also influence other fields of the country. We have already testified this thing in Argentina, which was once known for wheat cultivation and now become a wasteland. The same thing may occur in this land as well if we will not rise from deep slumber.

Before the issue is materialized we should take necessary remedial measures.

By

Jayadev Kar

Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Social Work

Indira Gandhi National Open University,

Koraput Regional Centre, Balangir-767001

Email: – [email protected]

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