Source: CAI

November 10, 2014 (Source: The Hindu)

Following the controversy over the transfer of a researcher who was leading the project to develop a Bt cotton seed at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, several other issues regarding the research seem to be coming out in the open.

While the university's original project to develop a Bt cotton seed is at an advanced stage and is awaiting clearance for field trials, another research funded by the Karnataka State Seed Corporation (KSSC) has started in the varsity.

Sources said that the Bt gene Bollgard II, developed by seed major Mahyco Monsanto Biotech, will be tried on 12 hybrids developed by the university, and could take at least three years before it could be released for commercial purpose.

Currently, KSSC is not involved in cotton seed sales since it does not have Bt cotton in its portfolio.

"Though we are late starters in the market, we hope to do well with the pricing," a source in KSSC said, refusing to disclose the project cost. A 2012 assessment by the Central Institute for Cotton Research found that there were 1,128 Bt cotton hybrids sold by around 40 companies in the country.

"When the public sector Bt cotton research in University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, is already in its advanced stage, there is no need for the government to go ahead with a new research. Instead, the current public sector research can be hastened," said Vivek Cariappa, a cotton grower from Mysuru.

He has written to Agriculture Minister Krishna Byregowda seeking his intervention on the issue. Besides, Mr. Cariappa has also questioned the commercialisation of the Bt cotton seed with Bollgard II, before the Karnataka Biodiversity Board.

However, the KSSC source defended the selection of Bollgard II saying that a committee looked into "notified genes" and selected Bollgard II since it is a multigene capable of protecting against multiple pests. (Source: The Hindu)