Sunday, June 03, 2007

Gujarat farmers: "Napsters of Biotechnology"

But it's what has happened after the ban on Navbharat151 that is really intriguing. As farmers are wont to do, they saved their seeds, and discovered that the second generation was also resistant to bollworm depredation. Some even experimented with interbreeding the Navbharat151 genetic line with other strains of cotton particularly suited to Gujarat conditions, and came up with new strains that proved effective. Local seed companies sprang up to commercialize the descendant breeds. And even though Mayhco-Monsanto has since been allowed to sell its own cotton seeds, the local bootlegged versions have proved more popular. And why not? According to reports, they're much cheaper, and, from the point of view of local farmers, perform as well or better than the "official" alternatives.

From this Andrew Leonard piece. Thanks to Swarup for the pointer.