Seed industry body FSII today said it was “unfortunate” that the Maharashtra government has held seed firms responsible without any proper assessment for the losses suffered due to pink bollworm attack on Bt cotton crop this kharif season.
It is “unfair” and “breach of principles of natural justice” to hold seed companies responsible based on “media reports”, alleged the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) in a statement. The FSII, in a letter to both the Centre and the Maharashtra government, expressed concerns over the problem faced by farmers but said the industry might close if the state asks seed firms to compensate the losses.
“It is very difficult to establish that yield loss, if any, is due to attack of pink bollworm. It is an established scientific fact that crop yields depend on multiple factors… You are also aware of rampant cultivation of illegal GM cotton in Maharashtra this year. All these factors might have contributed to any possible yield losses,” it said.
It is also a fact that adequate methods of controlling pink bollworm are available to the farmers. Our understanding is that in most of the areas pink bollworm was below economic threshold level (ETL), it added. Giving the right perspective on pink bollworm attacks on cotton fields of Maharashtra, the industry body in the letter said: “A major factor for the possible resistance development in pink bollworm is due to non-adherence to the regulatory guideline of planting non-Bt refuge by farmers. It is also dependent on the quality of non Bt refuge supplied by some seed companies.”
When Bt technology was introduced in 2002, the FSII said pink bollworm was not a major pest on cotton, except in some pockets of Punjab and Haryana. “It is a scientific fact that when one pest goes down due to very good control by a pesticide or a GM trait, it is natural for the other pests to increase due to lack of competition. This is true in all living beings including microbes and insects. Increase in pink bollworm is essentially due to lack of competition from other bollworms, “it said.
The FSII further said the Bt cotton trait is approved primarily for the control of American bollworm. “The control of spotted bollworm, army worm and pink bollworm was an additional feature of the technology. Even now the control of all the above bollworms, especially the American bollworm, has been excellent, except for the very recent phenomenon of the attack of pink bollworm in certain areas,” it said.
Stating that pink bollworm management continues to be implemented in an excellent manner by the Gujarat government in the last two years with extremely satisfactory results, the FSII said: “It is very important to transfer this knowledge from Gujarat to other states and prevent the attack of pink bollworm.” No technology or product can be eternally effective. That is why continuous research and development of new products is important and seed companies are investing on it every year, it added. The FSII is an association of research-based seed and seed technology companies that provide high-performance and high-quality seeds. More than 10 of its member companies cater to around 40-45 per cent of the hybrid Bt cotton seeds in 2017 kharif season.
Source: Economic Times.
Published on: January 17, 2018