Bt Cotton Current Affairs

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Punjab Agricultural University develops genetically-modified cotton varieties

Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana has claimed developing country’s first genetically-modified (GM) varieties of cotton – PAU Bt 1 and F1861. Cotton is the only GM crop allowed to be cultivated in India.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) also has identified three Bt cotton varieties –F1861, PAU Bt 1 and RS2013 for cultivation in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Key Facts
  • The genetic modification of cotton involves introduction of the Bt bacterial gene that codes for a protein which kills the bollworm cotton pest.
  • All three varieties carry the Cry1Ac gene obtained from Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) bacteria. It imparts resistance against bollworm cotton pest.
  • Besides, seeds of these three genetically-modified varieties can be reused by farmers with no commercial restrictions. It will aid in savings on repeat seed purchases every season.
  • The PAU Bt 1 variety was completely developed at PAU, whereas the F1861 and RS2013 were converted to Bt version by Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur.

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Union Government fixes Maximum Sale Price of Bt Cotton Seed

The Union Government has notified maximum sale price (MSP) of Bt cotton seed for the year 2016-17.

It was announced by the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

In this regard, Union Government has issued notification as per the Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015 under the Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

As per the notification

  • Price of BG-I version of Bt cotton hybrid has been fixed at 635 rupees.
  • Price of BG-II version of Bt cotton hybrid was fixed at 800 rupees.

Background

  • The MSP of Bt cotton seed for the year 2016-17 was notified based on the recommendation of nine-member committee set up by the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry.
  • It had fixed the MSP taking into consideration the seed value, trade margins licence fees including one-time and recurring royalty (trait value) and other taxes.
  • The committee was constituted after it was found that multinational companies (MNCs) largely control the Bt cotton seed market in India and they were charging exorbitant prices that consequently was cause of concern for small and marginalized cotton growing farmers.
  • Prior to it, Union Government had issued Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015 in December 2015 to regulate seed prices of Bt cotton and safeguard the interests of the farmers.

About Bt cotton

  • Bt cotton is a genetically modified organism (GMO) cotton variety, which produces an insecticide to bollworm.
  • It is produced by the gene coding technique by inserting Bt toxin into cotton as a transgene that causes it to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues.
  • The Bt toxin is obtained from the strains of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis which is only harmful to different insects including larvae of moths and butterflies, cotton bollworms, beetles but are harmless to other forms of life.

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