Farmers demand ban on Bt cotton

Berhampur:A farmers` body today urged the state government to ban cultivation of Bt cotton in the state following death of 13 peacocks near Pakidi hill, the biggest sanctuary of the national birds in the country.

"Not only the peacocks, but several other birds and reptiles also died in the area due to  pesticides used for cultivation of Bt cotton," state convener of Akhila Bharat Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (ABKMS) said here. Central committee member of the organization, Bhala Chandra Sarangi claimed that they had been told by local people that 50 peacocks had died in early October.

The farmer leaders expressed surprise how the government allowed growing of Bt cotton in such a sensitive area and that environmentalists in several states had strongly objected to its cultivation on the plea that it degraded the environment. Agriculture officials were, however, not sure whether Bt cotton was cultivated there.

Deputy Director, Agriculture, Ganjam, Aparti Sethi said he was unaware of the cotton grown on 84 acre by a farmer from Andhra Pradesh who was arrested and on whose fields the peacocks had died. "He did not take seeds from us. We are not aware of the variety, he used in the field," he said.