Questions on new bt cotton varieties from CICR

Central Institute of Cotton Research says they are ready with 21 straitline varieties of cotton,  developed using the Mon 531 event of monsanto and these can be grown under high density plantation conditions.

While all the arguments that high density plantation with strait line varieties are scientific..I dont understand what is the scientific rationality of developing the public sector varieties with Bt1 (Cry1Ac Mon531) while monsanto itself has declared that pink bollworm has developed resistance to Bt I (Mon531) and now to Bt II too. We have observed that other bollworms heliothes and spodoptera also have developed why now?

second question: Bt bikeneri narma, a bt cotton variety using event BNLA106) developed by University of Agriculture Science, Dharwar and Central Institute of Cotton Research was released in 2008 and was immediately withdrawn after complaints that it contained Mon531 of Monsanto. Sapori committee has established this ( Then how did now CICR is ready with new 21 public sector varieties with the Mon531 event. what is arrangement with monsanto on using this event? if we go by the fact that monsanto do not have a patent on Mon531 in India then why did govt withdraw Bt Bikeneri Narma? what has has changed since 2008?

third question: if CICR is going to use the Mon531 event…what happend to the events developed by National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology, National Botanical Research Institute and many other research institutions and crores of rupees dumped into the Bt research in the country? where are the products from the 100 cr research in the name of Network project on Transgenics? if all this has gone into drain and finally the public sector has to beg/borrow/buy or steal the genes from Monsanto…then why so much money on public sector GM research?

Hope someone will answer these questions.

New Bt variety to end woes of cotton farmers


A simple intervention by a Central government research institute could end the woes of cotton farmers in Vidarbha and Telangana who are under severe financial stress.

The solution

The Nagpur-based Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) has inserted Bt 1 (Cry1AC Mon531) into a desi variety to solve the two important problems that the farmers face – reduce the duration of the crop and avoid hybrids that guzzle scarce moisture in rain-fed areas. As they cut short the duration, the lanky plants also let farmers go for high-density planting. As hybrids spread horizontally, Indian farmers are able to plant only 10,000 plants a hectare against 1.10 lakh plants a hectare.

India is among the few countries that use the input-intensive hybrid cotton, while majority of the countries use varieties as they embraced genetically modified crop.

Lanky desi variety

While hybrids work well in the resource rich areas, it can cause havoc in areas that are poor in water and nutrients. CICR has done an experiment with about 500 farmers to address the challenges – reduce the crop duration and increase the plant density, using a lanky desi cotton variety in place of the bulky hybrid plants, to outwit pests and insects. This will help the plant save all the scanty moisture in rain-fed areas for flowering and boll formation stages.

The hybrid crop sucks life out of the soil by August-September, leaving hardly any for the crucial flowering stage.

There, however, is a trade off. The number of bolls per plant would come down to about 10 from 100 in the hybrid crops.

“But then, you are going to be compensated by the increased density of plants. By using a desi variety, we can reduce the crop duration and significantly increase the number of plants per hectare,” CICR Director Keshav Raj Kranthi told Business Line. The CICR has developed a Bt variety that brings down crop duration to 150 days from the 200 days that is in vogue at present. The present practice of spacious planting is way below the global average.

Sustainable model

“The high density, short-duration crop model is a sustainable model for India. The present day practices are not sustainable. Farmers need not go for insecticide sprays. About 16 legumes have been identified that can be used in the fields to help the soil fix nitrogen. This will help avoid use of urea,” he said.

Moreover, desi cotton gives more returns to farmers. “As this is used in surgical products, they get about ₹700 more than the ₹4,300 a quintal they are getting now,” he said.

The CICR has kept 21 varieties ready with Bt1 (Cry1Ac Mon531) for States to use from next kharif season. “We can give the varieties to Maharashtra and Telangana governments from the next kharif season itself. They can try them in half acre or so to zero in on the best variety to suit their requirements,” Kranti said.

(This article was published on November 13, 2015)