Paraguay considering use of GM cotton seeds
Aug. 8, 2011
Paraguay is considering the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds that are known to give high yields at low cost thus helping the farmers to gain from high prices in the international market.
Around 20 years back, some 600,000 hectares of land was under cotton cultivation in Paraguay, but it has now fallen behind other countries in the region in terms of crop output. However, the Government now intends to revive the olden days.
For countries like Paraguay, boosting cotton production is of much importance, because cotton cultivation being a labour intensive job has the potential to generate higher employment opportunities for people in the rural areas.
While GM soy has helped Paraguay to become the fourth-largest exporter of oilseed, a sharp fall has been witnessed in cotton output since early 1990s.
However, objections are being raised by activists on the use of GM cotton as they are claiming that it would prove detrimental to the environment.
But as the cotton prices hiked to record highs during end part of the last year, cotton cultivators in Paraguay have called upon the regulators to permit use of GM cotton.
Experts believe that biotechnology has a vital part to play today as agriculture directly counts on costs and produce.
Paraguay's Production Trades Union (UGP), which comprises of small cotton farmers, intends to equip around 15,000 small cotton cultivators with seeds and technical assistance towards close of the next year, as the Government too is expected to permit the use of Bt cotton by that time.
Last month, the US seed giant Monsanto had urged the Government to permit use of caterpillar resistant Bt cotton seeds in Paraguay. The Biosecurity Commission of the country is likely to voice its opinion within next few weeks following which the Agriculture Ministry of Paraguay would make the final decision.
The decision is also likely to be affected by the fact that Argentina and Brazil, with which Paraguay shares borders, have undertaken more cotton cultivation over the past few years.
During the last 2010-11 season, the country sowed cotton on 30,000 hectares which happened to be two times more than the area under cotton cultivation in previous season.
Next month onwards the cotton cultivators would start sowing crop for the 2011-12 season. As per the Government estimates the total cotton cultivation acreage for coming season would come to around 50,000 hectares.
Experts opine that a great enthusiasm prevails in farming sector at present and the crop prices are likely to keep above average.
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