By admin       2018-05-28

The sale of unapproved herbicide tolerant Bt cottonseed may jeopardise both the production and quality of cotton. This has also, yet again, exposed the regulatory lacunae with respect to GMOs. Vishwanath Kulkarni and Rahul Wadke report Ask any farmer in Vidarbha about herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton and the reply one gets is that he’s heard about people growing it secretly but is not aware of who’s actually doing it. The situation appears to be no different in Telangana and Karnataka. And just weeks ahead of the kharif planting season, the unapproved HT cottonseeds are back in circulation in States such as Maharashtra and Telangana. What’s unfolding now is a perfect policy and governance mess. States have seemingly stepped up their vigil against the illegal seeds, amidst demand from a section of farmers that the Centre approve the HT cotton for commercial cultivation. The regulator — the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) — has not approved the sale and distribution of HT cottonseeds. Farmers are taking to HT cotton in the belief that it brings down their costs of cultivation. By spraying herbicide — glyphosate, which kills the weeds and allows the cotton plant to grow — farmers could reduce their costs towards weeding, which forms about a third of the overall cultivation costs, as wages rise amidst shortage of labour. By way of background, HT cotton was seen as a successor to Bollgard (BG) II, which replaced BG 1 in 2008-09.

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