Cotton farmers in India are going to get a bountiful of hybrids to select from this year onwards.
To be precise, there will be 111 Bt cotton hybrids to choose from, after the by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) last week approved 49 new varieties for commercial sale this year.
GEAC had approved 62 hybrids until 2006. New hybrids have been approved in the wake of a recent Supreme Court order, according permission for commercial release of Bt cotton hybrids.
The approved varieties include the GEAC renewal of permission to Mahyco Seeds for commercial release of Mech-12 Bt cotton for central zone and Mech-184 Bt cotton for central and south zones.
GEAC has approved for the north zone ( Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan) 15 hybrids developed by Ankur Seeds Ltd, (1), Prabhat Agri Biotech Ltd, (1), Vibha Agrotech Ltd, (2) Nandi Seeds (P) Ltd, (2), Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, (1), Krishidhan Seeds Ltd ,(1), Pro Agro Seeds (P) Ltd, (1), Namdhari Seeds (P) Ltd, (1) Ganga Kaveri Seeds Ltd, (1) and Bioseeds Research (2).
Permission has been granted to the Bt hybrid of J K Agri Ltd (1) and Mahyco Seeds Ltd(1)
For the central zone (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh), GEAC approved in all 38 new bt hybrids, rejected 16 varieties and referred back to the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) eight hybrids. The approved seeds are from, Tulsi Seeds (1), Kaveri Seeds (2), Paravardhan Seeds Ltd (2), Vibha Seeds (4), Pro Agro Seeds Co Ltd (1), Vikram Seeds Ltd (1), Bioseeds Research (2), Ankur Seeds (2), Nuziveedu Seeds (3), Prabhat Agrobiotech Ltd (2), Nandi Seeds (3), Amar Biotech Ltd (1), Ajeet Seeds (1), Rasi Seeds (2), Mahyco (1), Nath Seeds (2), Zuari Seeds (1), Navakar Hybrid Pvt Ltd (1) and J K Agri Genetics Ltd (3).
Besides these, 33 Bt hybrids are approved for large-scale trials in north zone and 24 varieties in the central zone.
India introduced Bt cotton in 2002. It has so far been planted in 50,000 hectares. In 2006, the area increased to 3.8 million hectares, almost 70% of the hybrid cotton area of 6.3 million hectares.