Farmers Getting Disillusioned with GM Cotton
After growing genetically modified cotton -
better known as Bt cotton -
for a few years, farmers in the Karnatka state are disillusioned
with its tall claims and have reverted to growing indigenous varieties.
The farmers say Bt cotton overpromises and underdelivers. Take the case
of Nagappa Nimbegondi, a farmer in Makiri village in Hirekerur taluk (Haveri
district). He had sown three local improved cotton varieties (Sahana,
Abaditha and Raichur) and the crop is ready to be picked. He recalls
that until four years ago, he was sowing Bt cotton seeds and was getting
hardly four quintals from an acre. Then he followed agriculturists'
advice of switching to indigenous varieties. The move paid dividends and
now, he says, he gets eight quintals of cotton from an acre.
Having grown Bt cotton too and seeing its below-par performance
first-hand, he exclaims why his fellow farmers are using Bt seeds. He
says he cannot fathom the reason behind the continued patronage of Bt
seeds as even various international research institutes have concluded
that they affect our environment and health.
Having grown Bt cotton for a few years, Nimbegondi wanted to examine how
native varieties will perform in organic and rain-fed conditions. With
these seeds giving twice the yield when compared with the hybrid
variety, he has got his answer.
Chandrasekar Patil has got the same story to tell. He is a farmer in
Koonabevu village in Ranebennur taluk in Haveri district. He too had
chosen to use Bt cotton seeds. In fact, he had got prolific returns
initially, a yield of 15 quintals per acre, to be precise. But the yield
stooped and stabilised at three-four quintals an acre.
That is not all. He says he noticed that after he started growing Bt
cotton, honeybees disappeared from his fields and sub-crops like cereals
and millets vanished. He underlines that the fertility of soil
precipitated and the Bt seeds turned out to be high-maintenance.
Three years ago, Patil joined Desi Krushikara Balaga, a farmers' group,
of Byadagi (Haveri district). Until then, he was cultivating groundnut,
bengal gram, cow pea, brinjal, chilli and Bt cotton. After joining the
farmers' group, he started growing the Sahana variety of cotton. Today,
he says he is happy with Sahana cotton. He compares the cost of its
seeds, Rs450 a kg, with that of Bt cotton, which costs Rs1,200 a kg.
Today, many farmers pay him a visit to learn about the benefits of
growing indigenous varieties of cotton.
Praveen Narasingamurthy, field convener of Sahaja Samruddha, an
organisation working to promote organic farming, points out another
advantage of indigenous varieties of cotton. He says that unlike hybrid
cotton, the desi varieties let farmers save seeds for the next season.
These seeds are of high quality, unlike the hybrid varieties, where they
lose out on quality when not used quickly.
He says that more and more farmers in Haveri district are reverting to
growing indigenous varieties of cotton as they are realising the
disadvantage of cultivating Bt cotton.
Background to Bt cotton
Bt is an abbreviation of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt cotton
is a genetically modified variety of cotton. The Bt gene was introduced
into cotton as it is known to be harmful for insects that affect the
cotton crop. Bt cotton naturally produces the toxin that kill some of
the insects that attack the crop. It claims to reduce a farmer's
expenditure on insecticide and pesticide, thus saving him money.
The issue is that farmers have observed that Bt cotton is not immune to
all the pests, but only a select few. Also, its seeds cost almost
twice-thrice the cost of native varieties. Then, its users found that
these seeds have low shelf-life, which means a farmer growing Bt cotton
has to buy the expensive seeds for every crop, unlike native varieties,
where one gets seeds from the new crop.
New Certified Natural Cosmetics Launched
Vedicare Ayurveda Pvt. Ltd has developed the first
line of BDiH-certified natural cosmetics in India. Containing organic
herbs and natural ingredients, Soul Tree is
the country's first and only certified
The Soul Tree brand
comprises four product groups: Amrita is
the skin care range, Keshava is the
hair care range, Ananda is the bath care
range, whilst Mohini is
the beauty range. The products are formulated
using the principles of Ayurveda. The company
states that herbs are selected according to their
Soul Tree products are marketed in over 75
natural & organic food
shops in India, as well as online
retailers like Jabong and Flipkart.
There are plans to export to other countries and regions.
Pvt. Ltd is one of a growing number of Asian companies developing
certified natural and organic cosmetics. Such companies are adopting
standards as they look to distinguish their products from those making
unsubstantiated marketing claims. Greenwashing is rife in Asia, with
many brands marketing their products on natural ingredients and plant
extracts. However, adopting natural and organic cosmetic standards
brings many technical hurdles.
The Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit
will tackle some of the major formulation issues associated with natural
& organic cosmetics. Taking place
in Hong Kong on 11-13 November, the summit will give an update on global
& Asian standards for natural & organic cosmetics. An interactive
workshop will give guidance on how to formulate organic & natural
More details are
Source: News Release / OM
Japan Enters Organic Trade Agreement
Officials from Japan and the United States have announced the signing of
an organic equivalence arrangement between the two countries. U.S.
officials noted the organic equivalence arrangement will re-open the
important Japanese consumer market for US organic producers, and will
create jobs and opportunity for the US organic food and farming sector.
“This monumental agreement will further create jobs in the already
growing US organic sector, spark additional market growth, and be
mutually beneficial to producers both in the United States and Japan and
to consumers who choose organic products,” said Laura Batcha, Executive
Vice President of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
Assessments conducted in Japan and the US leading up to the signing
found organic management, accreditation, certification, and enforcement
programs are in place in both countries, and conform to each other’s
respective programs. The first two-way trade agreement in Asia also
marks the first organic equivalency arrangement without organic
As a result, certified organic products as of Jan. 1, 2014, can move
freely between the US and Japan. Under the agreement, Japan’s Ministry
of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries (MAFF) will recognise the US Dept.
of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to
the Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) and the MAFF Organic Program,
and will allow products produced and certified as meeting USDA’s NOP
standards to be marketed as organic in Japan. Likewise, the U.S. will
allow Japanese products produced and certified under the JAS Organic
Program to be marketed as organic in the US. Both countries will require
that the accredited certifier must be identified on the product label.
At first sight, the global organic products market appears to be getting
smaller. The US entered an similar equivalency agreement with Canada in
2009, followed by another agreement with the EU in 2012. Although the US
considers the organic standards in the EU, Canada, and Japan as
equivalent, the move has not encouraged a single global organic
standard. Organic producers Latin America, Africa and other Asian
countries still have to get multiple certificates to export to these regions.
Cynics could argue that rather then creating a single organic
market, these equivalency agreements are opening up the global market
for American organic products.
News Release / Organic Monitor