Wednesday, January 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bt cotton trials satisfactory
Approval likely for mass production in Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
It is official now. Results of the trials of certain varieties of Bt cotton conducted by the PAU, Ludhiana are satisfactory. The PAU is expected to submit a report in this connection to the Punjab Government soon.

A controversy has been going on the world over with regard to Bt seeds and crops. If the PAU and the Punjab Government clears Bt cotton for mass production from the coming cotton season, it will be a New Year gift for farmers of not only Punjab but also Haryana and the Ganganagar belt of Rajasthan. As climatic conditions are almost identical in the cotton belt starting from Hisar in Haryana to Rai Singh Nagar in Rajasthan, the Bt cotton varieties approved for Punjab will also qualify to be sown in the neighboring states.

Farmers in northern India are very keen on starting the sowing of Bt cotton. Though no variety of Bt cotton was approved for sowing in this region by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) during the just ended cotton season, farmers from the region brought the seed from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and other southern states where certain varieties of Bt cotton were approved by the committee in 2001 for sowing. However, such trials could not be held in Punjab in 2001 because the GEAC had directed the ICAR to conduct these at a time when the cotton crop was already sown.

Following the green signal by the ICAR the PAU conducted the trials of seven Bt and non-Bt varieties of cotton at various places in the cotton belt of the Malwa region of Punjab.

Official sources in the PAU said that the results of RCH-134 and RCH-138 varieties had been okay. The results of the other varieties such as Mech 162, Mech-915, LHH-144, LH-1556 and Oma Shankar were being processed. The final report in this connection will be available next week.

RCH-134 and RCH-138, Mech-162 and Mech-915 etc have been found resistant to American bollworm, that has emerged as a big villain in the Malwa belt for the past several years. In fact, this disease has destroyed the economy of the Malwa belt to the extent that farmers there started committing suicide because of heavy debts. However, the sources said that certain Bt cotton varieties had been found suspectible to attack of leafcurl virus compared to non-Bt varieties such as LHH-144 that are resistant to the virus.

Dr G.S. Nanda, Director Research, PAU said that he had got general report from the scientists concerned but classified information was being processed. The PAU was all for the sowing of Bt cotton in the state. Dr Nanda said that Bt varieties had been found resistant to American bollworm that was “ our major concern” though it was equally important that these varieties should also be resistant to leafcurl virus and should be good yieldwise also. Reports regarding the yields of certain Bt varieties were satisfactory.

Dr R.K. Rampal, Director, Agriculture, Punjab , who is head of the Varietal Approval Board, said that following the PAU report a meeting of the board would be held. If the board cleared the proposal it would be forwarded to the seed approval committee headed by the Financial Commissioner ( Development). After that the report would be submitted to the Central Seed Approval Board of the Union Government for final clearance. Normally seed approved by the seed approval committee is cleared by the Union Government.

Interestingly farmers in Andhra Pradesh, where its mass production was allowed during the last cotton season, are reportedly not happy with Bt cotton. They say Bt cotton was fetching a lower price than other varieties in the market because of less lint, more seeds and inadequate staple length. The price they got for Bt cotton was in the range of Rs 1300 per quintal while for other varieties prices ranged up to Rs 2600 per quintal.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |