To protest ban, farmers to plant GM cotton, brinjal seeds today

Days after illegal cultivation of genetically modified (GM) brinjal or Bt brinjal was confirmed in Haryana, the Shetkari Sanghatana, a farmers’ body in Maharashtra, has declared a civil disobedience agitation against the ban on GM crops.

In an attempt to defy the law, members of the organisation on Monday will plant seeds of banned HTBT cotton and Bt brinjal seeds at the Akoli Jahagir village in Akola district’s Akot tehsil. The law restricts farmers from carrying, storing, selling, sowing or conducting trials of these varieties, and offenders can face imprisonment up to five years and a fine of ₹1 lakh.

Anil Ghanwat of the Shetkari Sanghatana said, “We welcome all supporters of GM technology and well-wishers of farmers to attend the programme and take part in the historic civil disobedience movement.”

Government bodies have raised a red flag over the event. Kishore Tiwari, president of the State’s Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban mission, said, “This is a clear attempt at the behest of multinational seed companies to endanger the lives of rural population.” He said using the seeds without testing may lead to serious genetic problems.

Mr. Tiwari said the banned seeds are being produced without any hindrance in Gujarat and are being sold openly. “The Agriculture Department is not only turning a blind eye to this, but is merely giving empty threats of imprisonment to those who will plant the seeds,” he said.

Kalidas Aapet of the Shetkari Sanghatana said only those who oppose farmers’ progress oppose GM seeds. “A farmer should have the right to plant what he wants. It was Jairam Ramesh who banned GM seeds under the pretext of conducting tests. But those tests were never conducted.”

Mr. Aapet said farmers may even be given the opportunity to plant ganja. “Farmers can’t be held accountable over moral and ethical questions. Nobody came to their rescue when farmers committed suicides. Why should they be bombarded with questions of morality now?” he asked.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 1:10:20 PM |

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