Hamara Beej

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Monsanto to introduce Bt corn

CH Prashanth Reddy / Chennai/ Hyderabad November 06, 2009, 0:07 IST
Unfazed by the ongoing opposition to the commercialisation of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) brinjal, Monsanto India Limited (MIL), a subsidiary of US-based global biotech food major Monsanto Company, is planning to introduce genetically modified corn in the country by 2012-13.

The proposed corn seed would be embedded with not only Bt but also with the company's 'Roundup ready' technology that would be helpful in management of weeds and insects, MIL’s director- corporate affairs, Gyanendra Shukla, told Business Standard.
Monsanto envisages a good potential for the Bt corn seed business as the corn market in India is continuously growing due to changing food habits, driving the demand for poultry and livestock products. The starch industry, which primarily uses corn as its input, is also rapidly growing.
Today, according to MIL, over 30 user industries in the country produce more than 1,000 products from corn for textiles, paper, medicinal and other allied industries. By 2011-12, the domestic demand for corn is estimated to be over 22 million tonnes. As against this, the country’s corn production in 2008 stood at 19.31 million tonnes.
At present, MIL sells hybrid corn seeds in the country under the brand name Deklab. It has 14 high-yielding hybrids under this brand. The company's total seed sales in 2008-09 increased 5.6 per cent to Rs 231.8 crore from Rs 219.5 crore in 2007-08.
According to Shukla, India with 130 million hectares of land under cultivation is a “very important” market for the $11.3 billion Monsanto Company. In fact, MIL is the only public-listed company of Monsanto outside USA.
The rapid spread of area under cotton cultivation in the country seemed to have made Monsanto confident on the prospects of its Bt corn in India. In 2008, India planted Bt cotton on 7.6 million hectares equivalent to 82 per cent of the total cotton area in the country.
This year, Shukla said, the area under Bt cotton went up to about 9 million hectares comprising 90 per cent of the total cotton area. Now Monsanto was conducting bio-safety trials on next generation Bt cotton technology, which it was hopeful of introducing by 2012.
With regard to other products in the pipeline, he said Monsanto was currently working on a drought-tolerant corn variety, which would be launched first in the US in 2012. Subsequently, the company would come up with similar varieties of soyabean and cotton

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