India - Maharashtra Likely To Probe Bt Cotton Firm For Irregularities
Dated- 25 Jul , 2012 - India
The Maharashtra government is contemplating action against Mahyco Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd, a leading vendor of genetically modified cottonseeds, for alleged irregularities, including inflating retail prices in the "black market", a charge the company has denied.
State agriculture minister Radha Krishna Vikhe-Patil said the government was probing if norms on advance booking were sidestepped and Mahyco provided inaccurate information on seed availability. He also said there was a mismatch between "promised and actual yield".
The company denied it had been issued a notice, but accountability issues surrounding the company could impact the government's faith on the much-trumpeted "Bt" technology, which many organisations tend to oppose on grounds of efficacy and suitability.
India grows Bt cotton, officially allowed in 2002, in nine states in about 80 lakh hectares, which helped raise yields by 31%, according to a farm ministry reply in Parliament this year.
"As of now we haven't received any notice," a Mahyco spokesperson said.
In March, the Maharashtra government ordered German seed company Bayer to compensate farmers for crops losses because cotton hybrids had failed to deliver.
"After investigations in Maharashtra, it was found that farmers suffered losses…of Rs. 44,77, 672 and the competent authority directed Bayer Bio Science Private Limited to pay a compensation of a like amount," farm minister Sharad Pawar told Parliament in March this year.
Though GM cotton sharply raised yields in the initial years, productivity is now declining, according to a flagship paper presented by Keshav Raj Kranthi, director of the Central Cotton Research Institute, the country's BT referral agency.
Kranthi attributed part of the problem to a surfeit of BT hybrid variants that are showing new signs of vulnerability to pests.