Decision was taken following failure of Bt cotton crop in seven districts

Agri-biotechnology and seeds company Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd. (Mahyco) on Saturday moved the High Court of Karnataka questioning the March 22 Government Order banning its Bt cotton hybrid seeds and blacklisting the company, following the failure of Bt cotton crop in seven districts.

Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, before whom Mahyco’s petition came up for hearing, adjourned further hearing, while asking the State Advocate-General to appear in the case.

“Bt cotton hybrid MRC-7351 and Nikki Plus supplied by Mahyco has failed to give expected yields during kharif 2013. In Karnataka, 54,157 farmers who have grown Bt cotton supplied by Mahyco in 58,195 hectares suffered yield loss of more than 50 per cent,” stated the order issued by the Director of Agriculture.

The Government Order also stated that Mahyco had not conducted any awareness campaign or training programme for effective management of pests and diseases. Therefore, the company had violated the condition issued by the Government of India.

The ban was imposed after getting reports following a series of complaints from farmers in Haveri, Belgaum, Davangere, Chitradurga, Dharwad, Bellary and Gadag districts. However, Mahyco, in its petition, contended that Section 14(1) (e) of the Seed Act 1966, under which the government initiated action, did not apply in the present case as “MRC-7351 and Nikki Plus are not notified kind or variety of seeds”. Claiming there was no seizure and collection of samples, and no analysis was carried out before banning the seeds, the company contended crop failure in several districts was not because of the Bt cotton supplied by it, but on account of environmental reasons such as continuous rains and new pests such as mirid bugs and midges. “Pests caused damage to the crops, but the government is blaming the seeds. It may be duplicate seeds or seeds marketed by other companies…,” Mahyco claimed.

‘Rs. 10 crore given’

Contending that the decision on the ban, which was taken without giving it an opportunity for hearing, had impacted its business even though farmers were willing to buy its Bt cotton varieties, Mahyco said that it had given Rs. 10 crore as token support to farmers who were affected.

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