The government is expected to soon allow commercial release of three genetically modified (Bt) and indigenously developed varieties of cotton seed, for the first time. These were grown using the now off-patent Bollgard-1 technology (BG-1).
Officials said the seeds (called PAU-1, RS 2013 and F-1861) had been recommended for commercial release by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The seeds can be re-used and this allows significantly lower prices than existing Bt cotton varieties, mostly licensed by seed giant Monsanto.
“We welcome the move to commercially release indigenously produced Bt cotton but it remains to be seen whether this is parallel to the existing BG-2. If priced significantly lower than existing seeds, it can have some attraction among farmers, mainly in those areas where pink bollworm is not a big problem,” [said] Kalyan Goswami, executive director of National Seed Association of India (NSAI)….
Officials say the average yield of the genotypes is around 500 kg a hectare, more than conventional cotton seed and close to the average yield from existing Bt varieties. Cotton Corporation of India said the country’s average yield in the 2016-17 crop year that ends this September was 568 kg a ha.
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