Preliminary Report by Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab

The initiative taken by KVM-DDS to find out the very impacts of Bt. Cotton on Honey Bees is in a continuous progress. Till now we have interacted with large number of farmers to get their general impression and properly interviewed 7 Honey Bee Keepers in Four districts of Punjab named as:

Malkeet Singh- Village Gadriwal (Firozpur)
Navchaitan Singh- Villgae Meham Sarja (Bathinda)
Sukhraj Singh Lali- Village Nathana (Bathinda)
Gurcharan Singh- Village Tungwali (Bathinda)
Angrej Singh- Village Salabatpura (Bathinda)
Jaswinder Singh-Village-Mahla Bhloor (Moga)
Tajinder Singh- Village Kothe Dehati, Jaitu (Faridkot)

All the findings are quite interested but horrible. Six out of the seven complained that there is something very wrong with Bt. Cotton that result in to continuous fall of honey bee Population and as yields also. But earlier in the era of ordinary cotton they never had to face any problems like this.
Malkeet Singh (District President- National Bee Board, District Committee ,Firozpur) who is doing bee keeping for 28 years long period of time told us that “In era of ordinary cotton we had got 3 to 4 kg honey per box for three times during the particular crop season. But after Introducing of Bt. Cotton for last 7 years we couldn’t able to get any produce because honey bees doesn’t take the nectar from Bt. Cotton flowers and leaves also. We observed that in Kharif Due to the Bt. Cotton we have to lose so many populations of honey bees. Then we decided to stop Honey Bee Migration to wards cotton belt. I think either Bt. Cotton Plants never produce Nectar or Honey Bees doesn’t like the nectar produced by the plants.”
In the times of Ordinary Cotton Bee population is multiplying itself and we had got 25 boxes added after every 100 boxes in due course but in now in Bt Cotton fields the scenario is drastically changed we had to face a loss of 20 to 25 boxes after every 100 boxes said Malkeet Singh.
Malkeet Singh also told that there are two groups in PAU scientists and Bee-keepers as well on the issue of Bt Cotton’s impact on Bee population and honey production. We can classify them in two groups Pro- Bt.Cotton and another Anti-Bt.Cotton . Same is the trend in Bee keepers those who alliance with Pro- Bt.Cotton lobby never accept the fact that Bt Cotton is harmful to honey Bee.

According to S. Navchaitan Singh (a full time Honey Bee Keeper for last 5 years) there is something disreputable with the flowers of Bt. Cotton which lead honey bees to avoid visiting Bt. Cotton fields. In last Cotton season we located our bees in the whole cotton belt from Bathinda to Revari (Haryana) but all the efforts went in vain. We couldn’t get any honey produce during the whole season. He also told that we also noticed that The Queen produces fewer eggs in the particular season. Bees often visit Bt. Cotton Flowers but dose not take the nectar.
The honey bees worked very well in the Ordinary cotton. We had got desired production like (3 to 4 kg honey per box) twice in the season and the population did also become doubled during the season. But the honey production ended up due to the Bt. Cotton sowing in Punjab. We have to lose 5 to seven boxes after every 100 boxes and it results in to RS 2000 to 3000 per Box.

In the words of Sukhraj Singh Lali Village Nathana there is no doubt that honey bees often visit Bt. Cotton flowers and also do their job there. But for last 2 years we couldn’t get any produce. In the era of ordinary cotton we always had got 3.5 kgs of honey per box once in a season. I think that Bt. cotton dose not harm honey bees but in these days all the honey bees like to take the nectar from beneath the Bt. Cotton leaves. But there is no honey production in. We noticed that we have to face a loss of 5-7 bee boxes in the particular season. Till now Bt. Cotton seems harmless to honey bees in my view, he added.

Jaswinder Singh a Honey Bee keeper of Village Mahla Bhloor in Moga district had started bee keeping in April 1996 with 5 boxes is also facing a great loss in this occupation. He inform us that he couldn’t get any honey production for last two years in cotton season and it is just because of Bt. He also said that honey bees never visit Bt. Cotton flowers but I noticed that some of bees like to go beneath the leaves of the Bt. Cotton Plants. I think. Even before the arrival of Bt. Cotton I always had got honey once in a season 3 to 4 Kgs in quantity. During the ordinary cotton the bee population always be doubled in a season. But in present it reduced to 10-15 boxes during the season. It may be possible that due to the poison in the flower bees like to avoid to visit those.

Gurcharan Singh Village Tungwali who is doing honey bee keeping as his primary profession for last 20 years, told us that Bt. Cotton never be harmful for honey bees. He also challenged that I can show you the bees taking nectar from the flowers and leaves of Bt. Cotton plants. He also said that Bt. Cotton enables me to get much more production then before.

Honey Bee keeper of Village Slabatpura Angrej Singh shared his experience with us. According to him he is in the profession since 21.12.1999. in the in the times of ordinary cotton I had got honey for three time in a season but there isn’t any honey production for last 6 years. I noticed that no bees visit Bt. Flowers. In present I have always to face a loss of 15-20 boxes after every 100 bee boxes but during the ordinary cotton season the bee population almost be doubled.

In the light of above information it seems a matter of some serious research or some of intelligent watch during the flowering time of Bt. Cotton. We also suggest all the farmers to have some serious observations in the running cotton season. So we the KVM think that we have to give required time to the study for having an exact and clear picture of the present scenario.

Another farmer-Bee Keeper from Jaitu village Angrez Singh also told about decline in Honey production in Bt cotton fields.
One interesting thing came to notice that all Bee-keepers forced to feed bees with Sugar during Bt Cotton crop season because according to them –“There is no pollen in fields so to survive Bees we keep sugar pots near Boxes, and Bees used to take sugar to live”. THIS IS NEW PHENOMAN EMERGED AFTER BT COTTON CULTIVATION HAS INCREASED.

Bayer Settles With Farmers Over Modified Rice Seeds

A Bayer AG unit will pay $750 million to settle claims with about 11,000 United States farmers who said a strain of the company’s genetically modified rice tainted crops and ruined their export value.
Add to Portfolio

The settlement, announced on Friday, ends scores of lawsuits filed against the Bayer CropScience unit of the company by farmers in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The Agriculture Department said in August 2006 that trace amounts of the company’s experimental LibertyLink strain were found in long-grain rice. Within four days, declining rice futures cost growers about $150 million, according to a complaint filed by the farmers. News of the contamination caused futures prices to fall about 14 percent.

“From the outset of this litigation, we made it clear to Bayer that the company needed to step up and take responsibility for damaging American rice farmers with its unapproved rice seeds,” Adam Levitt, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement Friday. “This excellent settlement goes a long way toward achieving that goal.”

Bayer confirmed the settlement.

“Although Bayer CropScience believes it acted responsibly in the handling of its biotech rice, the company considers it important to resolve the litigation so that it can move forward focused on its fundamental mission of providing innovative solutions to modern agriculture,” a spokesman for the company said.

The accord is contingent upon the participation of growers representing at least 85 percent of the United States long-grain rice acreage planted between 2006 and 2009, the company and plaintiffs’ lawyers said separately.

Bayer and Louisiana State University had tested the rice, bred to be resistant to Bayer’s Liberty-brand herbicide, at a school-run facility in Crowley, La.

The genetically modified variety cross-bred with and “contaminated” more than 30 percent of United States ricelands, Don Downing, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said at the start of the first farmers’ trial in November 2009.

Exports fell as the European Union, Japan, Russia and other overseas buyers ceased or slowed their orders for testing of long-grain rice grown in the United States, the growers said.

The company denied that the testing program had been negligently managed and claimed that sale prices had rebounded after the initial drop. It said the trace amounts of the LibertyLink rice posed no threat to people.

Scientist bends rules for wife’s GM trial

Nitin SethiNitin Sethi, TNN | Jul 2, 2011, 12.28am IST

NEW DELHI: In a clear case of conflict of interest in clearing GM crop trials, a member of the environment ministry’s statutory appraisal body and senior agriculture ministry scientist Swapan Kumar Datta has pushed and got clearance for trials of GM rice to be conducted by his wife, Karabi Datta, faculty with the botany department of Calcutta University in which he too will be participating.

Environment ministry’s statutory Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) at first cleared the trials for GM rice with the Supreme Court mandated condition that the isolation distance of 200 metres must be maintained during experiments. This is done to ensure contamination does not take place.

The trials were to be done at Chinsurah Rice Research Station, West Bengal. However, the research station authorities said such trials could not be conducted at their facility under the given conditions. They also said, under an RTI reply, that they held hundreds of traditional varieties of rice – which activists always worry about getting contaminated by GM crops.

On the insistence of Datta, who is a member of GEAC and also deputy director general at the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, the appraisal body re-opened the case. Datta insisted that the isolation distance was too much and cited a non-relevant seed certification standards rules to claim the safety barrier should be reduced from 200 metres to 10 metres. The seed certification standards are not the norm followed in cases of GM food crop trials where the threat of contamination remains unchecked. The GEAC went against the Supreme Court orders and was persuaded by Datta to rework the clearance and permit Karabi Datta to carry out trials at 10-metre isolation distance instead.

Datta, when contacted by TOI, admitted that he was also involved in the GM rice trials with his wife but denied any conflict of interest, claiming it was only an academic project at the moment. Asked what rules he had used to suggest the whittling down of tough conditions, he said these were norms he and other members of GEAC had decided upon and there were no specific regulations he had in mind. He also did not comment on the potential contempt of apex court orders in this case.

PTTC working on transgenic variety of groundnut

PTTC working on transgenic variety of groundnut

PTI | 10:06 PM,Jun 27,2011
Hyderabad, Jun 27 (PTI) City-based Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC) is working on the first ever transgenic variety of groundnut that would be drought as well as heat resistant. PTTC, an initiative of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will make available this variety for trials in the next 4-5 years, Dr Sharma, Director of PTTC said. He said this while addressing a press conference here today, on the sidelines of 20th Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC). Sharma said that even though efforts are on to create genetically improved legumes, including Chickpea and Pigeonpea, there is a lot of national interest in the creation of a high-yielding groundnut for its oil. He added that more than half dozen firms have shown interest in the Pigeonpea hybrid being developed by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) scientists, even as there is lack of interest from private firms in transgenic research in Chickpea. Dr William D Dar, Director General of ICRISAT said that transgenics might hold the key to an increased food production and reduce production costs in dryland tropics in Asia and Africa. He said that there is a need to increase the food by 100 per cent, so that, 9.2 billion mouths could be fed in 2050.But we need a political will to reach that goal. “But the second green revolution must come from cereals,” he said. Reacting to a question on people’s opposition to BT brinjal, the founder of International Services for the Acquisition and Application of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) Dr Clive James said that processes such as irradiation of food and pasteurisation of milk had also faced resistance from people initially.

The Monsanto/Bill Gates Plot: Genetically Engineered Rice Threatens Asian Countries

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has approved $20 million in new monies toward the development of “golden rice” — an untested, highly controversial GE (genetically engineered) crop that threatens biodiversity and risks bringing economic and ecological disaster to Asia’s farms.

The leader of the Golden Rice project is Gerald Barry, previously director of research at Monsanto.

Sarojeni V. Rengam, executive director of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), has called the rice a “Trojan horse.” According to Rengam, the rice is “… a public relations stunt pulled by the agri-business corporations to garner acceptance of GE crops and food. The whole idea of GE seeds is to make money.”

Food Freedom reports:

“Golden rice is a Trojan horse for pushing through GE-friendly biosafety regulations under the guise of humanitarian aid. Once in place, these regulations open the door for the biotech industry to bring in commercial, patented GE crops; USAID and Monsanto accomplished exactly this in Kenya with their sweet potato project.”

In Thailand at least, however, a little known and unpublicized agricultural policy protects Thai rice from the risks of GMO’s. The Thai Ministry of Agriculture’s “Rice Strategy” is a master plan committed to strengthening the nation’s rice production while promoting farmers’ livelihoods and consumer confidence — which includes keeping Thai rice GMO (genetically modified organism)-free.

Adding to the risks of GE crops is Monsanto’s Roundup, the world’s best-selling herbicide that is made to be partnered with GE Roundup Ready crops. According to a new report, regulators have known for years that Roundup causes birth defects.


Regulators were apparently aware as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the active chemical ingredient of Roundup, caused birth defects in lab animals. However, the information was not made public. Instead, regulators misled the public about glyphosate’s safety.

According to the Huffington Post:

“… [A]s recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the German government body dealing with the glyphosate review, told the European Commission that there was no evidence glyphosate causes birth defects …

Although glyphosate was originally due to be reviewed in 2012, the Commission decided late last year not to bring the review forward, instead delaying it until 2015. The chemical will not be reviewed under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030.”

By Dr. Mercola, June 21, 2011
Straight to the Source

The cost-effective way to feed the world


By 2050, the world will have to feed 9 billion people, adapt to climate change, reduce agricultural pollution, and protect fresh water supplies – all at the same time. Given that formidable challenge, what are the quickest, most cost-effective ways to develop more productive, drought-, flood- and pest-resistant crops?
Some will claim that genetically engineered (GE) crops are the solution. But when compared side-by-side, classical plant breeding bests genetic engineering. Coupled with ecologically based management methods that reduce the environmental harm of crop production, classical breeding could go a long way toward producing the food we will need by mid-century.
Producing better crops faster certainly would help the world feed itself, but genetic engineering has no advantage on that score. Not only can classical breeding programs introduce new varieties about as fast as genetic engineering, technical improvements are making classical practices even faster.

Early steps in the genetic engineering process avoid the multiple rounds of cross-breeding inherent in classical plant breeding by directly inserting engineered genes into the crop. But seed companies then use classical breeding to transfer engineered genes to the crop’s numerous varieties for different markets and climates – and that takes time. And just as in classical breeding, new engineered varieties must be tested in the field for several years to ensure they perform as expected.
Second, GE crops are significantly more expensive to develop. Industry estimates of the cost of developing a single GE trait are in excess of $100 million. By contrast, a classical breeding program for similar traits typically costs about $1 million. Most of the cost differential is attributable to GE crops’ research and development requirements, which include DNA synthesizers and sequencers and other expensive equipment, in addition to classical breeding facilities.
Genetic engineering might be worth the extra cost if classical breeding were unable to impart such desirable traits as drought-, flood- and pest-resistance, and fertilizer efficiency. But in case after case, classical breeding is delivering the goods.
Plant breeders have already produced drought-tolerant varieties of sorghum, corn, rice, cassava and pearl millet – all critical for poor farmers in developing countries. Genetic engineering, meanwhile, has yet to commercialize its first drought-tolerant crop varieties. U.S. biotech companies have been working for years on drought tolerance, but two of the three varieties they plan to introduce within the next two years are the result of classical breeding.
Scientists using classical breeding enhanced with genomic information – a process called marker-assisted breeding – also have produced rice varieties that can tolerate flooding. These varieties, now cultivated in the Philippines, Bangladesh and India, are expected to increase food security for 70 million of the world’s poorest people.
Classical breeders likewise have developed papaya resistant to ringspot virus and corn that can fend off destructive rootworms – traits previously touted as requiring genetic engineering. And in Uganda, scientists have successfully bred sweet potatoes to resist virus diseases, while a multimillion-dollar, multi-year project in Kenya to genetically engineer similar virus resistance failed.
Finally, classical breeding and better farm management are responsible for all the yield increases for soybeans and most of the yield increases for corn in the United States. Recent yield increases are often erroneously attributed to genetic engineering, but data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and academic scientists show that even during the past 15 years that GE crops have been commercialized, classical breeding and crop management improvements contributed the large majority of the increases, not the newly inserted genes.
Public sector crop breeders have succeeded despite shoestring budgets at public universities, international institutes and the USDA. By contrast, the biotech industry’s lavish budgets have produced commercial crops with only two types of GE traits. More than 60 percent of all GE crops planted worldwide are merely designed to survive being doused with herbicides.
So if the conventional wisdom is wrong, and classical breeding is superior, what does that mean for public policy?
Federal and state governments should dramatically increase their support for tried-and-true, cost-effective classical breeding technology – including better funding for breeding programs at public universities and nonprofit institutes where breeders can work with farmers to develop a wider range of farmer-ready crop varieties. Big biotech companies do not focus on small-acreage crops, which include most fruits and vegetables. Nor do they market many classically improved varieties without including their patented engineered traits, which doesn’t help farmers who don’t want to grow GE seeds or pay the high prices biotech companies charge for them.
We are not suggesting that genetic engineering has no role to play in developing improved crops. But its modest contributions come with an extremely high price tag. If we are going to meet the challenges of feeding a growing population and protecting the environment, the scientific evidence says we place our bets on technology that works – classical breeding.
Margaret Mellon is the director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program. Doug Gurian-Sherman is a senior scientist in same program. Readers may write to them at: Union of Concerned Scientists, 1825 K Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20006-1232; website:
This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.

Read more:

Response to the Stakeholders workshop on GM foods organised by Asia Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology and TAAS on 19th May in New Delhi

Dear Colleagues,

This is in response to the attached 6-page report of a one-day (on 19 May 2011) meeting titled “Stakeholders’ Interface on GM Food Crops” at IARI, New Delhi. The meeting was organized by Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology (APCoAB) and Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS). APCoAB is a program of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) whose Executive Secretary at present is Dr R.S. Paroda (and he has held this important position for about 13 years). TAAS is a New Delhi based trust whose founder Chairman is also Dr R.S. Paroda.

The names of seven reputed scientists that are mentioned in the attached report are Dr. M. K. Bhan, Secretary, DBT; Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and DG, ICAR; Dr. R. S. Paroda, Former Secretary, DARE and DG, ICAR, Dr. Manju Sharma, Former Secretary, DBT and Dr. R.B. Singh, President, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), Dr. M. S. Swaminathan and Dr. G. Padmanaban. The last two persons did not attend this meeting and organizers stated, in the attached report, that messages were received from them and circulated in the meeting. Names of eminent persons in the report is creating a perception that the output has their support. It may be noted that in the past, Dr. M. S. Swaminathan as head of the Task Force on Agri-Biotech of the Government of India has cautioned against transgenics in crops for which India is the Centre of Origin/Diversity. In addition, he has stated other do’s and don’ts on use of GM technology (see Chapter II, point 1.6 of report of Task Force on If indeed all scientists in the meeting support these recommendations, it is urged that they read (particularly the sentences in red-font) what authors of the seven publications in the Appendix I told the world through their research on GM crops or published reviews. It may be noted that all of these publications are in peer-reviewed journals, Indian or international.

As one would note from Appendix I, there is ample research data suggesting that the GM food/plants, released as of now by commercial companies, were either harmful to the environment and/or to the health of test animals. Yes, there are reports that their use improved yield of relevant crops. The side effects of the GM crops are harmful enough to caution against their promotion unless more research is done, including on their long-term effects. It is worth noting that synthetic pesticides like “Endosulfan” were also stated as safe by vested interests when released by the Government. It is after more than a decade that the public noted its harmful effects (particularly in Kerala) and now-a-days withdrawal of this pesticide is being talked about. But still the vested interests are preventing to get rid of such toxic chemicals. Moreover, Bt-GM is also a pesticide of new kind that has been developed to kill only one particular insect and its sub-species, while a given crop gets attacked by several insect-pests.

I trust that the organizers of the one-day meeting have seen these publications and the data provided in them, because all of these were available online before the meeting was held on 19 May 2011. If yes, they should have provided built-in safeguards in the recommendations of the meeting. If not, it is not a healthy sign for progress of science in India.

Agricultural Scientists should support every agro-technology or agri-practice that empowers small holder farmers/producers (about 80% of farmers in India own 10 acres or less), meets their nutrition, health, food and cash needs, improves their purchasing power, increases their net income. The desired/targeted agro-technologies should also be eco-friendly, sustainable and should address issues related to climate change. With the available data and information to us, GM technology, as of now, does not fit these criteria.
On the other hand, several low-cost and eco-friendly agri-practices without synthetic pesticides are scientifically sound and are being used by a large number of farmers in India. Some of the practitioner farmers are award winners from different states for their innovations and/or for high yield. It is unfortunate that hardly any research institution is promoting these practices as pro-actively as they are for GM technology. An assemblage of such practices without synthetic pesticides was called Non Pesticidal Management (NPM) by Dr. M.S. Chari (former Director, Central Tobacco Research Institute, an ICAR institute), a renowned entomologist while working with the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, an NGO based in Secundrabad. The NPM further graduated to Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) in partnership with the Federation of Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) in Andhra Pradesh in 2005 onward. It has been proved to alleviate poverty in Andhra Pradesh (see After evaluation/verification, the CMSA is being scaled-up by SERP (Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty, a program of the Government Andhra Pradesh) from 2007-08 season. In the 2009-10 season it was practiced on 23 lakh acres spread in 8033 villages. In the coming season (2011-12), the Andhra government plans to extend the practice to 35 lakh acres and cover 8500 villages under this program (personal communication, Dr. D.V. Raidu of SERP, phone: 09000400509). A video ( ) and report ( is available for those interested to have more data/information.
I would like to end this response note by the following views of COLIN TUDGE, a biologist and writer (see full article on
“Can we still rely on what scientists tell us? Alas, no. Their conferences and papers are sponsored by industry, their bad results are concealed, their jobs are threatened if they step out of line….. .

In agriculture the conflict is even more stark. The real threat of genetically modified crops is not that they will poison us but that they are designed to place all agriculture, including that of the developing world, in the hands of a few companies. If the developing world takes its farming down the western industrial route that those companies follow, half of its enormous population will be permanently out of work. All in all, anyone who believes that big corporations do work in the interests of all humanity is living on another planet. Yet I have met many people in high places who do believe this.

More pernicious still is the way that privatisation has corrupted the fabric of science itself. Science is dead without honesty, which should be judged as the lawyers judge it: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. As things are, this most fundamental principle is compromised at every turn. Bad results are concealed; apparently favourable results are bruited in the spirit of PR; people are bought and/or threatened so that they comply, and even that once final guarantor of honesty, “peer review”, is now routinely circumvented.

The above views are a wake-up call for scientists, science managers and policy-makers. For scientists to maintain their credibility, it is suggested that organizers of conferences/workshops on scientific topics of public interest, particularly of controversial nature, provide internet-interface (eg. e-conference) so that more stakeholders can participate in the discussions. A report brought out by less than 50 persons in conference halls cannot decide on the fate of the millions of the cash poor small-holder producers in the Asia Pacific region in general, including those in India.

Readers are urged to share this document widely.

Om Rupela
former Principal Scientist, ICRISAT

Response to TAAS report by Dr Rupela

Stakeholders interface GM food crops