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GM Cotton

In India, Bt Cotton was approved for commercial cultivation in 2002 and it was the only approved GM crop. The Cry1Ac gene derived from the common soil microbe called Bacillus thuringiensis was used for Genetic Modification. Four years later, in 2006, investigations were conducted in 4 villages in the Warangal district among shepherds and farmers. The farmers described at least 1820 deaths among sheep that grazed on Bt cotton plants after harvest. Farmers estimated the total number of sheep deaths in the region to be 10000.

A preliminary investigation taken up by Jana Swasthya Abhiyan in Madhya Pradesh, India in 2005 found that farm workers handling Bt cotton developed allergic reactions. Twenty-three patients, including 10 severe cases, suffered allergic symptoms within about five hours of gathering, lifting and even touching the cotton, according to this study. “Farmers’ skin turned red, swelling occurred, eyes reddened and breathlessness was experienced. Some victims suffered a burning sensation in the eyes, watering, itching, swelling of eyelashes, sneezing and running noses.” Those who covered their bodies remained unaffected.

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