More pests ‘resistant to GM crops’ across the World: study

(AFP) – 17 hours ago

PARIS — More pest species are becoming resistant to the most popular type of genetically-modified, insect-repellent crops, but not in areas where farmers follow expert advice, a study said on Monday.

The paper delves into a key aspect of so-called Bt corn and cotton — plants that carry a gene to make them exude a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, which is toxic to insects.

Publishing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, US and French researchers analysed the findings of 77 studies from eight countries on five continents that reported on data from field monitors.

Of 13 major pest species examined, five were resistant by 2011, compared with only one in 2005, they found. The benchmark was resistance among more than 50 percent of insects in a location.

Of the five species, three were cotton pests and two were corn pests.

Three of the five cases of resistance were in the United States, which accounts for roughly half of Bt crop plantings, while the others were in South Africa and India.

The authors said they picked up a case of early resistance, with less than 50 percent of insects, in yet another US cotton pest.

And there were “early warning” signs (one percent resistance or less) from four other cotton or corn pests in China, the United States and the Philippines.

The scientists found big differences in the speed at which Bt resistance developed.

In one case, it took just two years for the first signs to emerge; in others, the Bt crops remained as effective in 2011 as they were 15 years earlier.

What made the difference was whether farmers set aside sufficient “refuges” of land for non-BT crops, said the study’s authors.

The idea behind such refuges comes from evolutionary biology.

The genes that confer resistance are recessive, meaning that insects can survive on Bt plants only if they have two copies of a resistance gene — one from each parent.

Planting refuges near Bt crops reduces the chances of two resistant insects mating and conferring the double gene to their offspring.

“Computer models showed that refuges should be good for delaying resistance,” study co-author Yves Carriere, an entomologist at the University of Arizona at Tucson, said in a press release.

Practical evidence of this is shown in the case of a cotton-munching pest called the pink bollworm, said his colleague, Bruce Tabashnik.

Bt crops in the southwestern United States, where growers work closely with scientists to devise a refuge strategy, do not have a resistance problem.

In India, though, local pink bollworms became resistance within six years, simply because farmers did not follow the guidelines or get this support.

The researchers cautioned that resistance to Bt crops was simply a matter of time, as all pests eventually adapt to the threat they face. But refuges were the key to braking it.

“Either take more stringent measures to delay resistance such as requiring larger refuges or this pest will probably evolve resistance quickly,” said Tabashnik.

Farming groups have been furiously debating the value of refuges, and in recent years the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relaxed its refuge-planting requirements.

More than a billion acres (420 million hectares) of land have been planted with Bt crops since the mid-1990s.

In 2011 alone, 66 million hectares (164 million acres) of land was planted with Bt crops.

That year Bt corn accounted for 67 percent of corn planted in the United States and Bt cotton for between 79-95 percent of cotton planted in the US, Australia, China, and India.

Transgenic crops are opposed in Europe and other parts of the world where green activists say they are a potential threat to human health and the environment.

Odisha holds a workshop on ‘Conservation of Rice Diversity’

A state-level workshop on ‘Conservation of Rice Diversity’ and ‘Marketing of Organic Rice for Livelihood Improvement of Small holder Farmers’ was organized by NIRMAN, a grassroots organization working towards sustainable agriculture and conservation of agro-biodiversity at IMAGE, Bhubaneswar.
Dr. R.S. Gopalan, IAS, Director, Agriculture and Food Production, Dr. J. K. Roy, Retd. Joint Director, CRRI & renowned rice scientist, Natabar Sarangi, rice conservationist and organic farmer jointly inaugurated the workshop.
Prasant Mohanty, Executive Director of NIRMAN delved upon the history and highlighted that rice diversity existed in Odisha, which happens to be one of the birth places of rice. India is a global center of origin and diversity of rice. Over 60,000 distinct rice seed varieties have been collected by Indian agricultural research centres. Many more grew in farmers’ fields, adapted to diverse conditions.
About 19,000 rice varieties were collected by Dr Richharia from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, of which 1600 varieties were found to be high-yielding. He also raised concern for the promotion of hybrid rice variety when traditional variety has the high yielding potentials.
Mr. Sadangi shared his experience of cultivation of rice in organic way and conservation of rice diversity by his farm field. He emphasized that organic farming and cultivation of indigenous rice is the only solution to save farmer, consumer, water and environment.
Syed Ghani Khan from Karnataka shared his experience of conservation of 250 varieties of rice in his own farm and was awarded a farmer breeder for developing new variety. Dr. Jafrana Keshari Roy, renowned Rice Scientist said it the wisdom of our farmers due to which traditional rice diversity exists even today. He emphasized the contribution of farmers in conservation of rice diversity.
Genetic diversity is the basic raw-material for crop Improvement. Odisha is bestowed with many natural resources including genetic diversity of rice (Secondary centre of origin of rice). The state’s traditional varieties have many unique characters like tolerance to flood, water logging, salinity, drought, pest & disease tolerance, scented rices, fast-flood preparations and contain high grain number.
As of date, Odisha has total 6700 varieties of rice. Dr Roy also cited the effects of Green Revolution which has caused irreversible damage of bi-diversity degradation. He emphasized that govt. should extend support to farmers for adoption of in situ conservation of traditional variety of rice.
Mr. Debalu from Sanjeevani, Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh participated and shared his experience in the workshop. Mr. R. S. Gopalan, Director, Dept. of Agriculture and Food Production shared the state’s experience on conservation of traditional rice variety in Odisha. He has made efforts to getting registration of traditional variety of Rice by Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers’ Right Authority (PPV & FRA), New Delhi. He said they have indigenous varieties with a high yielding potential. “Our scientists should research on Desi varieties and should have open mind,” he said.
Mr. Krishna Prasad, Director of Sahaj Samruddh, an organization in Bangalore promoting organic farming and conservation of local variety participated in the workshop and shared how they have successfully created models for marketing of organic rice variety and he wished that it should be replicated in Odisha for the benefit of farmers conserving local variety.
He also said that we can boost conservation through linking farmers with market for better prices of their produce. The workshop came up with a follow up plan of organising an Organic Mela in Bhubaneswar to provide platform for organic farmers to sale their produce in next 2 to 3 months.
Organic farmers, NGO representative, Govt. Officials and academicians actively participated in the workshop. There was a rice seed exhibition outside of the IMAGE Conference hall. NGOs like NIRMAN, Sahaj Samrudh, Bangalore, Sanjeevani, Andhra Paradesh, Agriculture dept. of Govt. of Orissa, Amhinsa Club participated in the workshop.



New Delhi, March 19, 2013: On the second day of a large farmers’ rally in the heart of India’s capital here today, the Mahapanchayat (great assembly) of farmers and agriculture workers resolved to stay put until their demands are met. In a historical new formation, people’s movements and large farmers’ unions have come together to defend land rights and protect farm livelihoods. Lambasting the government for its anti-farmer policies, speaker after speaker rejected government’s development paradigm, which neglects rural India and agri livelihoods. The night saw thousands of farmers sleeping on Parliament Street in the open, with the government choosing to ignore them. “We are the Anna Daatas who keep the nation alive and the government cannot continue with its impoverishment policies towards farmers. More people are headed towards Delhi now and it looks like the government will respond only when an issue reaches a flash point”, said Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union.

The main demands of the Mahapanchayat include: (a) no land acquisition and taking back the land acquisition bill with its amendments to the standing committee, (b) enacting a farmers’ income guarantee act, (c) cancel free trade agreements, (d) promote ecological farming and stop toxic technologies like GMOs and pesticides.



The large gathering was addressed by farmers leaders and activists like Naresh Tikait, Yudhvir Singh, Ajmer Singh Lokhowal, Chukki Nanjundaswamy, Chellamuthu, Gurnam Singh, Medha Patkar, Ulka Mahajan, Kavitha Kuruganti etc.



“Two years ago, empty promises were made to us by the government; this was by the Prime Minister himself making assurances to us on March 8th, 2011. This is tantamount to cheating the largest chunk of citizens of the country and this is unacceptable. If the government does not act this time to respond to this non-violent movement, it would only reinforce the public perception and knowledge that the government is deaf to the needs of its citizens”, said a statement from the Panchayat.



The assembly saw many women farmers joining actively in the rally. Yesterday, there was a symbolic burning of the government’s land acquisition bill to show that it was unacceptable to the gathering. The Mahapanchayat also declared that unless the PMO responds to their demands, they will not move out.




For more information, contact: Dharmendar Kumar: 9219691168; Kannaiyan: 9444989543; Ashlesha: 9900200771





Fertiliser Ministry pegs subsidy at Rs 1 lakh cr for FY’13

NEW DELHI: Fertiliser Ministry has projected a requirement of more than Rs 1 lakh crore for making subsidy payments in the current fiscal, Parliament was informed today.

The projected requirement of the subsidy during this fiscal, ending this month, is much higher than the revised Budgets estimates of about Rs 66,000 crore.

Minister of State for Fertilisers and Chemicals Srikant Jena said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha: “The allocation of funds for fertiliser subsidy in the year 2012-13 is Rs 65,592.13 crore under Budget Estimate. The requirement of funds projected in Revised Estimates is Rs 1,02,207.39 crore.”

The Budget for the 2013-14 fiscal, which was tabled in Parliament yesterday, had actually quoted a revised estimate of fertiliser subsidy at Rs 65,974 crore.

On an average, India consumes about 30 million tonne of urea and around 25-26 million tonne of DAP, MoP and complex fertilisers annually.

The government provides full subsidy on imported and domestically produced urea, while it fixes subsidy on nutrients such as N, P and K, which is linked to the import parity price of fertilisers, di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and muriate of potash (MoP).

Subsidy is reimbursed to fertiliser firms for selling the indigenous or imported crop nutrients like DAP and MoP at lower price to farmers.

The government has lowered the fertiliser subsidy to Rs Rs 65,971.50 crore for 2013-14 fiscal.

It will provide Rs 15,544.44 crore for imported urea, Rs 21,000 crore for indigenous (urea) fertiliser and Rs 29,426.86 crore for the sale of decontrolled fertilisers (DAP, MoP and complexes).


Right to Homestead Bill: Task force to finalise draft

After legislating the Right to Information and Education — and making a stab at the Right to Work and Food through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Food Security Act respectively — the government’s next step seems to be aimed at legally upholding the right to a home of your own.

On Tuesday, a task force set up by the Rural Development Ministry — including government officials and civil society members — is expected to finalise a draft of the National Right to Homestead Bill 2013.

The Bill aims to ensure that “every shelterless poor family has a right to hold homestead of not less than 10 cents … Within a period of 10 years commencing from the date of notification,” according to the draft to be discussed by the task force on Tuesday, a copy of which is available with The Hindu.

According to the National Land Reforms Policy draft — which may also be finalised at the meeting — more than 31 per cent of households in the country are landless. Almost 30 per cent own less than 0.4 hectares, meaning 60 per cent of the population owns only five per cent of the country’s land.

Jan Satyagraha impact

The Jan Satyagraha movement, spearheaded by the Ekta Parishad last year, brought thousand of landless people together to protest this state of affairs. Their march to Delhi ended in Agra when Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh agreed to a charter of demands, with the Right to Homestead and a National Land Reforms Policy heading the list.

The task force, headed by Mr. Ramesh, has held three meetings so far to try and fulfil that agreement. The draft Bill calls for State governments to notify an implementation plan within one year to identify beneficiaries, make an inventory of available lands and acquire more, and develop and allot plots. It mandates that the Central government will bear 75 per cent of the cost — through a National Homestead Guarantee Fund.

Eligibility criteria uncertain

The draft seems uncertain about the specific eligibility criteria for beneficiaries. The Bill is aimed at poor families in rural areas only. Government employees, landowners, income tax payers are all exempt. Other criteria, including a maximum income level, have not yet been finalised. The title to the homestead will be given in the name of the adult woman member of the household.


వచ్చే ఆర్థిక సంవత్సరంలో వ్యవ’సాయం’ రూ.63వేల కోట్లు నాబార్డు ప్రతిపాదనలు

హైదరాబాద్, ఫిబ్రవరి 14: వచ్చే ఆర్థిక సంవత్సరంలో వివిధ రంగాలకు రుణ మంజూరుపై నా బార్డు కసరత్తు చేస్తోంది. ఇందులో భాగంగా వ్యవసాయానికి దాదాపు రూ. 63 కోట్ల మేర ఇచ్చేవిధంగా ప్రతిపాదనలు సిద్ధం చేసింది. ఈ మేరకు స్వల్ప, దీర్ఘకాలిక రుణాల కింద రూ.59818.95 కోట్లు, భూమి అభివృద్ధికి రూ. 654.75 కోట్లు, యాంత్రీకరణకు రూ.2432.12 కోట్ల మం జూరుకు ప్రతిపాదించింది. వీటిని రాష్ట్రస్థాయి బ్యాంకర్ల కమిటీ (ఎస్ఎల్‌బీసీ)కి పంపనున్న నేపథ్యంలో సోమవారం వ్యవసాయశాఖ అధికారులతో సమావేశమై సూచనలు స్వీకరించింది. ఈ సందర్భంగా అధికారులు వివిధ అంశాలను ప్రస్తావించారు. 

సమస్యల పరిష్కారానికి చొరవ చూపాలని నాబార్డు ఉన్నతాధికారులను కోరారు. ఇక నీటిపారుదల రంగానికి రూ.1061.38 కోట్లు, ఉద్యాన రంగానికి రూ.1441.72 కోట్లు ప్రతిపాదించింది. ఇక పశు సంవర్ధక శాఖ కింద రూ.2113.05 కోట్లు పాడి పరిశ్రమాభివృద్ధికి, రూ.1088.16 కోట్లు పౌల్ట్రీకి, రూ. 554.43 కోట్లు మేకలు, పందుల పెంపకానికి ప్రతిపాదించారు. మత్స్యరంగానికి రూ.1320.06 కోట్లు నాబార్డు ప్రతిపాదించింది. ఫుడ్ ప్రాసెసింగ్‌కు రూ.637.69 కోట్లు ప్రతిపాదించారు. నాబార్డు ప్రతిపాదనలు… ఎస్ఎల్‌బీసీ ఆమోదం బాగానే ఉన్నా.. ఆచరణలో మాత్రం బ్యాంకు లు శ్రద్ధ చూపడంలేదన్న విమర్శలున్నాయి.

Stop giving milch animals, fodder scarcity is looming large: farmers


In most parts of the State groundwater depletion is an issue’

Left with no choice:Goats eating posters near the Collectorate in Tiruchi. —Photo. A. Muralitharan

Left with no choice:Goats eating posters near the Collectorate in Tiruchi. —Photo. A. Muralitharan
The Federation of Tamil Nadu Agriculturists’ Associations has appealed to the State government to stop giving goat and milch animals free of cost till drought conditions in Tamil Nadu cease because fodder scarcity is looming large.

State secretary of the federation C.Nallasamy told The Hindu that the faming community is thankful to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for the free goat and also milk animal scheme. “”But once the livestock are given to the poor , where will they go for the fodder? They might be forced to think of only abattoirs,” he warned.

Mr.Nallasamy says that only Thiruvallur, Thiruvannamalai, Villupuram, Cuddalore, and Tuticorin have had some rains and hence groundwater is not a serious problem. But in most other parts, not only the crops have withered but also groundwater itself is becoming a serious issue due to drought conditions. “Indiscriminate exploitation of water, especially for irrigation, has led to the depletion of groundwater. In some areas, borewells have been sunk up to a depth of even 1,000-1,500 ft.”

While more than half the delta area is drought-hit, several regions including Lower Bhavani Project area, Right and Left Bank Canals of Mettur, Amaravathi, PAP, Vaigai and Tamiraparani did not get adequate water for irrigation. Poor rains have hurt the lakes and tanks too. “Then where is the scope for green fodder?” he asked.

Mr.Nallasamy, who hails from Kongu region, says the entire region is in the grip of serious drought.

According to him, even the State government can do nothing about the green fodder whose prices are shooting up. Maize fodder of one acre which used to sell at Rs.500-1,000 is now quoting around Rs.15,000. Hay, which used to cost around Rs.3,000-4,000 an acre, is also quoting around Rs.15,000. Rice bran, which used to be sold at Rs.350-400 per bag of 50 kg, is now quoting around Rs.600. Cattle feed sells for Rs.1,300 for a bag of 50 kg. “But milk procurement price stays put at Rs.18 a litre.”

The result is that the price of even good breed like Jeresy Freisian, normally sold between Rs.35,000 and Rs.40,000, is now quoting around Rs.20,000. “They are no more valued but only weighed,” he laments.

Pointing out that drought has hurt all the contiguous States and also western India, he says even if the State government wants to help the farming community by procuring green fodder from other States, it may not be available elsewhere too.

“The State government is facing a very tricky situation,” he admits.

All that we can pray for is normal summer rains – from April to July – when 20 per cent of the total annual rainfall is recorded by the State, he adds.

Meanwhile the government could try to provide dry feed such as “parutthikottai (cotton seed) and pinnakku (oil cake),” at subsidised cost.

Official sources point out that the State government has been encouraging green fodder cultivation in most of the districts even by extending an incentive of Rs.3, 000 for 0.25 acre. Almost in every district a minimum of 100-200 acres has been identified every year and each beneficiary of the free livestock scheme is given 0.25 acres for raising green fodder. A number of farmers are accustomed to growing Co3, Co4 varieties for fodder apart from cholam. At the same time, the sources admit that drought conditions prevailing in several regions of the State would naturally affect the availability of green fodder.