Sunday, March 7, 2010

Media and the Bt Business

On March 6, 2010 The Hindu (and none of the other media players in India ) posted this news. Bt cotton ineffective against pest in parts of Gujarat, admits Monsanto . In a rare first of its kind any where in the world, Monsanto openly admitted its failure in what is otherwise hailed as the success story of Bt Cotton, the saviour of cotton farmers.

Genetically modified (click here to know more about GM crops) Bt Cotton was introduced in India in 2002 as a fool proof seed variety which could withstand attack of the most common pink bollworm pest. The Hindu reported that Monsanto had admitted that at least in some parts of Gujarat where the seeds were introduced , the pink bollworm have developed resistance to its Bt crop.

A news release dated March 5 , 2010 by Monsanto says "Monsantoi and Mahyco scientists detected unusual survival of pink bollworm to first-generation single-protein Bollgard cotton... in four districts in Gujarat – Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagarh and Rajkot."

The news release establishes that the "resistance is normal" and places the blame squarely on the unsuspecting farmers and the Government for its failure!!!

"The findings in Gujarat are an important reminder to Indian is essential to regularly monitor and scout fields throughout the season for insect presence..... and properly manage crop"
"Government policies should encourage investment in R&D.."

Rest of the media woke up a tad slowly and reported on the Bt Cotton failure the following days:

Monsanto accepts its Bt cotton failed pest-control tests - Times of India

Bollworm in Gujarat Bt Cotton: GEAC to look into report - Indian Express

It is interesting to note how each of the media houses camouflage the news, none beats the story filed in Business Standard. The 'news' item in Business Standard tries to establish that the failure of Monsanto as reported by Monsanto itself is not correct!!

Despite the disclosure by Monsanto, Business Standard reports on March 7th that
Government lab faults Mahyco's study of pest resistance to Bt cotton and props up the success story of Bt Cotton quoting a Government agency.
Eventhough the company that produces the seeds say that they are not as effective as they are meant to be, Business Standard contradicts and establishes that they are still effective and the 'farmers' can benefit by continuing its usage!!
Its a curious case of media reporting.

Read more about Bt Brinjal here

1 comment:

Sudhir said...

I was at a Bt. Brinjal Forum in experiences here: