By admin       2018-12-18

DECEMBER 17, 2018 - While the agitations held for Maratha reservation helped the community win their demand, it has also delayed the probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into companies that have allegedly produced, stored, and sold unapproved Bt cotton seeds with herbicide-tolerant trasgenic gene (HTTG), according to the State government. On Saturday, the State government sanctioned a three-month extension to the SIT, led-by Krishaprakash, Special IG (Protection and VIP security), which is probing the role of companies such as Mahyco Monsanto Bio Tech (India) Pvt. Ltd., Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and Monsanto India Limited over illegally producing, storing and selling unapproved Bt cotton seeds with HTTG. The SIT, formed on February 7, was expected to give its report within a month. It has been 11 months now and the report is still awaited. A government resolution said that one of the reasons for the delay is the focus on security provided to VIPs due to the changing law and order situation in the State as a result of the Maratha agitations at different places. In addition, the delay is attributed to additional responsibilities extended and the probe undergoing in police cases filed earlier. In India, Bt cotton seeds of Bollgard-I (since 2002) with Cry1Ac gene and Bollgard-II (since 2006) with Cry2Ab gene are approved for sale on a commercial scale. A company needs the approval of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to commercially produce genetically modified seeds. Bt cotton seeds with HTTG are not approved by the GEAC. As per the report from the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur, five branded Bt cotton seeds namely Jadu, ATM, Balbhadra, Arjun and Krishna-gold were found with HTTG. An FIR was filed in Nagpur on October 25-26, 2017. On November 17, 2017, the State government requested a CBI probe. On January 10, the Centre in a confidential letter asked the State government to form an SIT, which was subsequently formed in February. It had earlier received a five-month extension. The SIT is authorised to recommend action against the seed companies after inquiring their role.

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