With reports of illegal cultivation of unapproved variety of herbicide tolerant Bt (HTBt) cotton coming in from Maharashtra, Telangana and Gujarat and BT Brinjal in Haryana, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Tuesday demanded strict action against companies responsible for supply of seeds to the farmers. BKU has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in this matter. Farmers have planned dharna and protests at block level across the country on August 9.
“The farmers are planting Herbicide-Tolerant (HT) cottonseed combined with a trait obtained from a Bt soil bacterium which is toxic to deadly American, pink and spotted bollworms. There is no legitimate version of HTBt cotton available in the market. Nor is there any application for approval pending before the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the apex regulator for genetically-modified crops. The question is who is giving farmers access to HTBt cottonseed,” the BKU said.
The issue of planting unapproved herbicide tolerant Bt (HTBt) cotton has split cotton farmers into two groups. While those favouring sowing of HTBt have approached the government for lifting the ban on the variety, the opposing group has urged the government to take strict action against farmers propagating the banned variety.
BKU has earlier written to the chairperson of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), an environment ministry body, which appraises proposals relating to release of GE organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials and demanded action against those .
According to report, a farmer in Haryana’s Fatehabad district was allegedly found to be growing a transgenic brinjal variety, which is not yet approved for cultivation in the country.