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Bengal to raise cotton area to 5000 acres

BS Reporter  |  Kolkata 

The West Bengal government has embarked upon an ambitious mission to raise the area under cotton cultivation in the state from the present 500-700 acre to 5,000 acre by the end of 11th five year plan.
This was informed by Narendra Nath Dey, minster for agriculture, West Bengal on the sidelines of a biotechnology seminar organised by the ASSOCHAM on Friday.
When asked about the government's stand on the use of BT cotton seed for increasing the acreage area, Atanu Purkayastha, secretary, department of agriculture, West Bengal said, " commercial cultivation of genetically modified crops is not allowed in the state, but field trials are on. We would not tell you the details BT cotton trials in the state."
Meanwhile, De said there was a lack of ignorance about the use of hybrid crops in the state. The government would soon employ Indian Statistical Institution to educate farmers about the benefits of the use of biotechnology in crop cultivation.
"ISI would go to villages and change the common misconceptions about new technologies in farming," he said.
The minister said biotechnology was essential for attaining food security. "Biotechnology is necessary, but it is a matter of a big debate now. But ,we have to accept GM crops for higher yield and crop intensity, which will solve the problems in attaining food security," he said.
The West Bengal biotechnology department would upload the new biotechnology act in its website within this month, said Surjya Kanta Mishra, minister for health and family welfare, panchayat and rural development and biotechnology, West Bengal.
The act is seen as a check on GM seed producing companies, as it would mandate the firms to inform local authorities about the filed trials before conducting them.
"The act would stream line GM crop filed trials in the state," said Sidhartha, secretary, department of biotechnology.
Lately there were accusations on Mahyco of not adequately informing the state government about filed trials of BT rice and okra in the state.
"We took permission from the regulatory authority at the Centre for GM crop trials. If the state government needs any additional information, they should go to the regulatory bodies at the Centre," said Raju Barwale, managing director Mahyco.

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First Published: Sat, August 04 2007. 00:00 IST