By admin       2018-05-28

But here’s the crucial issue: Experts feel the rising cultivation of the unapproved or the illegal HT cottonseeds poses a big risk to the cotton growers in India, who are already reeling under the impact of rising pink bollworm attacks. The widespread use of HT cotton could altogether reverse the production gains over the last 15 years, since the advent of Bt hybrids in 2002. The Government needs to come down heavily on the illegal trade, say analysts. The South Asia Biotechnology Centre, the New Delhi-based non-profit that brought to light the illegal cultivation of HT cotton through its report last year, expects the area under such seeds to rise this year on higher sales. But the domestic seed industry believes that the crackdown by States against the illegal seeds would lead farmers back to BG II hybrids, which have turned susceptible to the dreaded pest pink bollworm and have already been inflicting heavy losses on farmers. It is to be noted that cotton yields have stagnated after rising dramatically in first few years when Bt seeds were introduced (see table). Last year, SABC had revealed that the share of the illegal HT cottonseeds was around 35 lakh packets. “We expect that the area under HT cotton could rise further in the dryland regions of Maharashtra in the forthcoming season to around 1.5-2 million hectares, from around 1 million hectares last year,” says C D Mayee, President, SABC and former director, Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR). In Telangana, where farmers had planted about a third of the 45 lakh acres under the unapproved HT cotton last year, the Government has stepped up the vigil this year. "About 10 tonnes of the unapproved seeds have been seized so far,” says K Keshavalu, Director of the Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority. “There’s need for a massive awareness campaign to be taken to the farmers on the risks posed by the illegal seeds and the ill-effects of use of glyphosate,” he adds. “A ban on glyphosate could possibly address this issue, as its use is integral to HT seed technology,” explains Mayee. Recently, the Nagpur Police along with the Maharastra Agriculture Department officers, seized around 3,400 packets of the suspected HT cottonseeds. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Bijay Kumar, Agriculture Secretary, Maharashtra. The State has been trying to break the clandestine supply chain of the HT cottonseeds.

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