17 January 2017

The war of words between Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Private Limited (MMBL) and the National Seed Association of India (NSAI) continues with MMBL issuing a rebuttal to the allegation made by the latter on the failure of Bollgard II and its consequences.

MMBL has contended that it is not responsible for development of resistance in pink bollworm and its acceleration or the consequences (compensation claims). It blamed the NSAI for threatening to stop sales of Bt cotton seeds from this month.

“Your threat to advise your members to stop selling Bt cotton seeds from January 2018 is irresponsible and in complete disregard of the interests of farmers,” Satyender Singh, Director of MMBL, said in the letter.

The five-page letter gave a point-by-point rebuttal to NSAI’s allegations against Monsanto and MMBL on a host of issues that included payment of compensations and efficacy of Bollgard II.

MMBL alleged that the NSAI was trying to deflect responsibilities on development of resistance caused by the failure of its member companies in propagating prescribed practices.

Reiterating that resistance was a natural and evolutionary adaptation of insects and pests to stress factors, he said propagation and adoption of recommended practices was a combined responsibility of all stakeholders in cotton production and not just that of the technology provider.

Rejecting the claim that it kept mum on the growing resistance, he said both the regulator and the seed firms had been informed about the incidence.

The firm, which sub-licences it to Indian seed companies, also wrote to Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, explaining to him about the fallacies in the NSAI allegations.

The NSAI reiterated its threat on stoppage of seed sales. “We make it clear that until and unless there is clarity on the role and responsibility, there is no question of selling Bt cotton seeds,” Kalyan B Goswami, Director-General of NSAI, said.

“You accept that resistance is natural and evolutionary but go on charging trait value for the technology despite its failure,” he argued.

He said that the resistance was not restricted to only a few areas as claimed by the firm. “The regulatory authorities have confirmed that BGII failure was observed in more than 90 per cent of the cotton growing area in the country,” he pointed out.

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