FSII points at other factors for pink bollworm attack

FSII points at other factors for pink bollworm attack

Facing compensation claims after pink bollworm attack, seed industry body FSII on Tuesday said the low yield of Bt cotton this year could be due to multiple reasons, including cultivation of illegal GM crops and non-adherence to guidelines by farmers.

"It is very difficult to establish that yield loss, if any, is due to attack of pink bollworm," the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) said in a letter to Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

The industry body argued that crop yields depend on multiple factors, including environment, crop rotation, crop cultivation practices, choice of germplasm, pest biology and genetic purity.

With farmers in Maharashtra facing huge losses after pink bollworm attack on the cotton crop, the state agriculture minister had announced compensation through seed companies and disaster relief fund.

In the letter, also marked to the Maharashtra government, the FSII expressed concerns over the problems faced by farmers, but said the industry might close if the state asks seed firms to compensate the losses.

Gujarat model

"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, pointing out the "excellent" pink bollworm management practices in Gujarat.

The FSII also pointed out non-adherence of regulatory guidelines by farmers who were expected to plant non-BT refuge to prevent pests from developing resistance to the technology.

"It is very important to transfer this knowledge from Gujarat to other states and prevent the attack of pink bollworm," the FSII said. It said that when Bt technology was introduced in 2002, the pink bollworm was not a major pest on cotton, except in some pockets of Punjab and Haryana.

The increase in pink bollworm could be because of lack of competition from other bollworms, it said.

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