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The Southern India Mills’ Association

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Cottonseed firms to govt: Remove trait value on BG-II

As pink bollworm has developed resistance to technology, no point in charging royalty from farmers: seedmakers
As the sales season approaches for next kharif, the cottonseed firms have asked the Central government to remove the royalty (or trait value) component on the Bollgard-II claiming that the technology proved to be ineffective last season. Cotton-growing States have reported that on vast tracts the pink bollworm has developed resistance to the Bollgard-II technology, causing extensive damage to the crop. The seed firms have argued that since the technology has become ineffective to protect the crop from the pink bollworm attack, there is no point in collecting any trait fee from farmers. The Cottonseed Price Control Order (CSPCO) had fixed the trait value for BG-II at ?49 on a 450-gm packet. The seed firms collect it as part of the sale and remit the same to Mahycho Monsanto Biotech Limited (MMBL) under the licence agreement. MMBL sub-licenses the technology (which it gets from the US-based Monsanto) to the cottonseed firms in the country. A delegation that includes National Seed Association of India (NSAI) President M Prabhakara Rao, Bhaskar Rao (Kaveri Seeds) and Samir Mulay (Ajeet Seeds), submitted a memorandum to Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, last week. “We briefed him about the latest developments in the cottonseed sector in Maharashtra, resistance developed by pink bollworm to Bollgard-II and how it impacted the cotton crop last year,” Prabhakara Rao, who is also the Chairman and Managing Director of the Hyderabad-based Nuziveedu Seeds, said.
Onus on MMBL
The memorandum specifically focussed on the developments in the cotton sector in Maharashtra, following the failure of BG-II in tackling the pink bollworm. Blaming MMBL for the failure of technology, it alleged that the dealers and seed firms are being penalised for the crop losses, leaving MMBL “scot-free”. Stating that the quality of the seeds has got nothing to do with the resistance developed by the bollworm, the NSAI said that it was technology that gave up. “The insect has developed resistance to the protein, produced by the Bt cotton plants. It happens because of the natural ability of the insect to adopt to changed environment,” the memorandum said.
“If any compensation has to be paid, it will have to be paid by MMBL, the developer of the trait, and not the seed firms. More than 99 per cent of the Bt cottonseed sold in Maharashtra are carrying the BG-II trait for which MMBL is receiving the trait value every year from seed firms,” the NSAI memorandum said.