India: Bitter Words Over Better Seeds

A pest-fighting cotton strain sparks protest-and riles farmers

Two years ago, cotton-growing regions of southern India were hit by voracious bollworms. The subsequent crop destruction drove some 200 debt-burdened Indian farmers to suicide. Such a tragedy might have been averted by Bollgard, a strain of cotton genetically engineered by Monsanto Co. to produce a bollworm-killing protein. Commercially introduced in the U.S. in 1995, Bollgard has been used in field trials around India by Monsanto's partner, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co., with the goal of making the seeds available to farmers by 2000.

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