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Saturday, Jul 06, 2002

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Mahyco-Monsanto sells entire Bt cottonseed stock

Ch. Prashanth Reddy


MAHYCO-MONSANTO Biotech Ltd has completed the sale of the entire stock of 1.05 lakh packets of Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis) cottonseed that it had produced for distribution during the current year.

The packets, each containing 450 gram of Bt cottonseed and 120 g of non-hybrid seed, can cover an area of one lakh acres. At Rs 1,600 per packet, the sale proceeds accounted for Rs 16.8 crore.

According to the company's Managing Director, Dr M.K. Sharma, Mahyco-Monsanto combine is planning to produce one million packets of cottonseed by next year to meet the growing demand for the transgenic variety from farmers. As the new variety has been commercialised in the country for the first time, the company will be closely monitoring the crop sown in six States this year. The non-Bt cottonseed supplied by the company is meant for sowing five rows around Bt cotton farms as per the guidelines of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).

Farmers in the country are stated to be showing a great deal of interest for the genetically modified cotton seeds as they contain the `Cry 1 Ac' gene that makes the crop resistant to bollworm pest. Bollworm is a major pest that causes heavy damage to cotton crop. Farmers, however, have to spray pesticides to check other pests that affect the crop.

Dr Sharma told Business Line that at present Bt cotton was sown in an area of 16,140 acres in Gujarat, 41,229 acres in Maharashtra, 12,560 acres in Tamil Nadu, 16,950 acres in Karnataka, 8,990 acres in Madhya Pradesh and 8,400 acres in Andhra Pradesh. On the whole, an extent of 1.04 lakh acres had been covered by Bt cottonseed in the country.

In Andhra Pradesh, the transgenic cottonseed was supplied through about 30 select dealers in the identified cotton growing districts including Warangal, Guntur, Adilabad and Khammam. The identified areas are mostly located in the places where the company had earlier conducted field trials.

The company officials, led by Dr Sharma, had visited Warangal district on Friday as a part of their efforts to spread awareness among the farmers about Bt cotton.

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