BASF has stated that it has given an application to Defra for conducting trials of genetically modified blight resistant potatoes in the UK and this has again shifted the attention over the question as to whether or not GM has got a place in UK agriculture. Meanwhile as the deadline for responses to the Government’s GM co-existence consultation comes closer there seems to be a divided opinion as ever. A straw poll on ‘Should we grow GM potatoes in the UK?’ which was conducted by Farmers Guardian showed that the respondents were divided on this question. Also a number of questions have been raised regarding the blight control in the UK. These questions are: Is there blight resistance available in conventionally-bred potato varieties? Is it becoming more difficult and expensive? Are the BASF GM varieties resistant to the A2 blight strain?
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The regulatory authority for biotechnology crops in India, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has stated that India has witnessed an increase in the area under plantation with GM insect protected cotton from 1.2 million hectares to 3.2 million hectares in 2005. This variety of cotton has a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis which imparts protection to cotton plants from specific lepidopteron insect pests. Farmers in India were earlier facing losses due to insect pests and up till the year 2002 chemical control was considered to be the only option for controlling the pests. This is what one of the Indian farmer Eknath Shivram Pandit had to say abut GM cotton: It is cost-effective. We have to spray just 2 or 3 times. But with the other seeds, the worms would attack, and we had to spray at least 15 to 20 times.