Thursday, 17 May 2007

RISK IN INDIA: WHAT FRANCE BANS, INDIA ADOPTS


By ESHA SHAH, STEPS Centre member

India has allowed the introduction of a new insecticide called Gaucho which has been banned in some parts of Europe. The seeds of all major crops in India, including the controversial Bt cotton, are treated with Gaucho chemical which slowly releases active chemicals in the sap, nectar and pollen. (picture credit: Demonstration against Gaucho in Paris / Gilles Ratia www.apiculture.com)

It is claimed that the crops grown from the seeds treated with this insecticide do not need any more pesticides for the initial period of 45 to 60 days. The chemical is partially banned in France after a long legal battle fought by the French beekeepers. While the French are very concerned about the Gaucho, Indian farmers have enthusiastically embraced it. Gaucho acts via plant nectar: when the nectar oozes out of seeds it kills all insects by making them loose sense of direction.

And while the chemical is under observation in other parts of Europe, including UK, it has been introduced in India without any serious inquiry or debate. The controversy over Gaucho in France however raises serious issues with respect to the role of science in regulatory policy-making. The scientific evidences on Gaucho’s impact on bees remain inconclusive and even contradictory in France while the beekeepers steadfastly continue their battle for a complete Gaucho ban.

This post links to a series of blogs that tie in with the STEPS Centre project on risk, uncertainty and new technologies with special reference to India.

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