'Alternative to BT cotton need of hour'

The BT cotton debate needs to be approached with an open mind, said Ananth Hegde Ashisara, Co-Chairperson of the Karnataka Bio-Diversity Board.

Speaking at a day-long workshop titled ‘10 years of BT Cotton in Karnataka. Wither Other Cotton,’ Ashisara said that they were not against BT cotton but against the lack of an alternative argument.

“At present as BT is still not a full-fledged technology, it is inappropriate and foolish on our part to abandon traditional farming practices to make way for it,” he said. 

“BT agriculture is tailored for large-scale farming with high investment. But a large section of our farmers have small land holdings and it is unscientific to be imposing such a practice on them,” Ashisara said. Moreover, all agricultural and horticultural research organisations in the country should study the impact of genetically-modified crops. Instead of collaborating with  Monsanto, the institutions should look into alternatives to growing GM crops, he added.

To empower farmers at the grassroots level, bio-diversity management committees need to be set up at the Panchayat level, so that they have the power to decide the kind of crops to be grown, said K S Soogara, Member Secretary of the Karnataka Bio Diversity Board.

The government should report on the productiveness of GM crops and also look into the economical and ethical aspects of GM crops, he added.

Farmer feted

Nagappa Nimbegondhi, a progressive farmer, who has grown 23 strains of desi cotton, was felicitated at the event. 

“I too had fallen prey to BT cotton, however, I soon realised the danger it entailed. BT cotton requires more fertiliser, when compared to organic cotton and its use increases every year, leaving the land barren,” he said.

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