GEAC approval for only one Bt cotton variety

New Delhi, April 13 | Updated: Apr 14 2005, 05:38am hrs
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has approved only one variety of Bt cotton hybrid out of the 13 listed for commercial cultivation in 2005 season in central India. It has also okayed large-scale field trials for three transgenic cotton varieties in north India.

The decision on extension of the period of approval for three Bt cotton hybrids of Mahyco was deferred on account of adverse reports from Andhra Pradesh government. These Mahyco varieties, namely Mech-12 Bt, Mech-162 Bt and Mech-184 Bt, were approved for sowing in central and southern parts of the country. The approval period ends in 2004 season. GEAC has asked reports from other state governments about the performance of these three varieties. The next meeting of GEAC is scheduled on May 11.

RCH-138 variety of Bt cotton hybrid developed by Rasi Seed Ltd was approved for commercial cultivation in central India. Other three varieties of Rasi Seed, which were listed in the agenda, were not approved in absence of adequate reports from the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM), and Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC). Similar is the case with the four Bt cotton hybrids of Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, three of Mahyco and two of Ankur Seeds.

The three transgenic cotton seeds approved for largescale field trials in north India are JKCH-1947 of JK Agri, NEC-ER Bt of Nath Seeds and 02-50 VIP of Syngenta Seeds India. The cotton seed developed by Syngenta does not contain Bt technology, but a transgenic technology of a different kind called VIP technology.

Dr Suman Sahai of the Gene Campaign, who made her presentations before the GEAC about the failure of Bt cotton, alleged that only five minutes were allowed to her. She accused GEAC chairman Suresh Chandra of saying that the government is not answerable to the NGOs. Dr Sahai demanded that GEAC, before taking final decision, should consult the NGOs and not just take inputs from the NGOs.