Ten years after Bt cotton first made its appearance in India, the Coalition for GM-free India has demanded a comprehensive review of the policy.
Releasing a report here titled “10 years of Bt Cotton in India: false hype and failed promises”, the Coalition demanded an immediate halt to the policy of promoting Bt cotton. “Examination of the data from the last 10 years negates the twin claims of dramatic yield increase and significant fall in pesticide usage. The report exposes the stagnant yields, pest resistance, new pests and disease attacks, the need for high levels of farm inputs and the spate of tragic farmer suicides in the cotton belt.”
Addressing a press conference here, Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Convenor of the Coalition, charged the government and regulators with “uncritically accepting” the public relations campaign by the biotechnology industry. “This is a wake-up call for the government, Parliamentarians, policy-makers, farmer organisations and media to closely examine the crisis in the cotton belt and critically re-assess the 10 years of Bt cotton. The government should stop promoting Bt cotton and pro-actively advise farmers about its unsuitability and risks.” The Coalition announced a country-wide agitation on March 26. It sought a special discussion in Parliament for a major policy shift away from Bt cotton.