The use of pesticides dropped from 46 to 21 per cent

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said that the use of Bt. cotton, the only transgenic crop, cleared by the Environment Ministry and the committee concerned, has resulted in increased cotton production/farmers’ income, and controlled bollworm disease in the cotton crops. “Farmers themselves have accepted Bt.crop. That is why, we have supported it.”

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha on Bt.cotton, Mr. Pawar said that the Indian farmer was more-wiser than him. They understood what crops should be taken. “When 93 per cent of cotton growers are using this seed [Bt.cotton], .. they are the sensible people and they are for the larger interests of the country. Therefore, it is not proper to say that Bt.cotton is not useful.”

Because of the use of Bt.cotton seed, cotton production had gone up from 137 lakh bales to 352 lakh bales. The use of pesticides had dropped from 46 per cent to 21 per cent as the seed was disease-resistant. “This also shows that it is beneficial to the farmers.” The per hectare yield of cotton, which was 191 kg in Maharashtra, had gone up to 491 kg due to use of Bt.cotton, he said. .

On farmers’ income, Mr. Pawar said prior to Bt., in 2001, the total income per hectare was Rs.7,558 in the rain-fed area. After the introduction of Bt., the income had gone up from Rs.7,000 to Rs.16,000 and in the irrigated area, it touched Rs. 25,000 per hectare. “So, Bt. has established all the benefits and advantages to the farmers and to the nation,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, Neha Saigal of Greenpeace India, has charged that Mr. Pawar’s “continued flawed pitch for promoting GM crops and denial of scientific evidence on the adverse impact of this technology is a huge threat to farming livelihoods and food security.”

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