India: Ill effects of Bt cotton

Dr Sudhir Kumar

Dr Sudhir Kumar Kaura is a geneticist and biotechnologist based in Hisar, Haryana State, India, and can be contacted at Tel: 09354172987 in India and 00919354172987 from outside India. E-mail: lokvaani@rediffmail.com

Press Release, Save Farmer Movement, 11 April 2008

Genetically Modified Crop B.T Cotton has been found hazardous not only for farm animals like buffalo, cow, sheep, goat, etc., but for human beings as well. For the last 4-5 years milk yielded from farm animals, who are being fed whole seeds and seed oilcake of BT Cotton, has come under scanner as it has been proved toxic and disease causing for humans.

Reputed biotechnologist and geneticist of the city and national coordinator of Kisan Bachao Andolan, Dr Sudhir Kumar Kaura based on his team's extensive scientific field studies, communicated to the press that ill effects of BT cotton on human and farm animal health can now be clearly spotted in rural as well as urban areas of Hisar District. As reported in Andhra Pradesh and some other states, BT Cotton has also caused untimely deaths; decline in milk quantity and quality; serious reproductive failures and problems including pseudo-pregnancy in thousands of farm animals in Hisar district.

Incidentally, in January this year, through an international press release (published at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/BTAllergyNorthIndia.php), Dr Kaura was first to report cases of skin itching and allergy like symptoms in farmers, farm labourers and farm animals in Sadalpur village of Hisar District. Later on, such symptoms were reported in every part of cotton belt in north India. Farm families in the district have collectively incurred economic loss of millions of rupees on account of human and animal diseases and untimely animal deaths due to BT Cotton. According to Dr Kaura, the problems due BT Cotton can be regarded as an epidemic.

Dr Kaura, who has himself studied, researched and worked in a reputed university based genetic engineering laboratory for over 10 years in a row, and other top agricultural and management institutions including IIM, Ahmedabad and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), elaborated that in fact BT Cotton is genetically engineered to produce a deadly pesticide called BT Toxin with in each and every part of the plant against American Bollworm, a major insect pest of cotton crop, and related insects. Like any other insecticides, if any animal comes in direct contact of this plant and /or plant part or eats any raw or cooked part of the plant, the animal can die immediately or it may exhibit symptoms of poisoning like going off feed (inability to feed), reduced intake of feed, suffocation, breathing difficulties, unexplained weakness, etc. Milk of farm animals, eating BT Cotton, is deadly for animals'' offspring as well as humans of all age groups, as it has been found to cause increased death rate in infants, general debility, allergy, unexplained health problems, fever, decline in immunity, weakness, etc. in laboratory and field conditions. In some preliminary studies, many human and animal subjects have shown relief from disease symptoms when BT Cotton was omitted from feed or food sources.

Dr Kaura says that government functionaries like state agri-universities, ICAR, agricultural and health ministry, and agri-scientists are well aware of the deadly nature and other health compromising effects of BT Cotton but they pose as if they are unaware of the facts and field reports probably under pressure of their superiors who are in turn controlled by politicians. Due to apathy of government over this issue, farmers, and public is paying a very heavy price indeed in terms of their health and capital loss. Dr Kaura has appealed to farmers to immediately stop grazing animals in BT Cotton fields and desist from using BT Cotton seeds and seed oilcake in the animal feed. He has also appealed to farmers across India to boycott this deadly and poisonous synthetic crop.

While nearly all scientists of India have chosen to remain dumb on this issue of human survival in spite of knowing research and field positions, a senior agri-scientist of national repute Dr M S Narwal has shown courage to speak against genetically modified (GM) Crops in his appeal to international community of agri-scientists. He released his appeal early this month in which he had appealed to all agricultural scientists of the world to kindly help farmers in coming out of vicious circle of dangerous genetically modified (GM) crops like BT Cotton because reports have been coming for the last about 10 years which say these crops are harmful for humans, animals, ecology and environment alike and manufacturers and promoters of these globally controversial GM crops have not been able to counter these reports and findings yet. Dr Narwal is a Senior Scientist in the discipline of Pearl Millet Breeding, who is on rolls of a state funded agricultural university and is a former President of Teachers'' Association of CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, Haryana State, India.

(Sudhir Kumar Kaura)
National Coordinator