Agriculture Department raids Shetkari Sanghatana leader’s house

Seed samples seized to test if it was banned HTBt cotton

Published - June 11, 2019 11:28 pm IST - Akola

A day after a Shetkari Sanghatana (SS) leader in Akola district of Maharashtra planted illegal Genetically Modified (GM) seeds, the officers from Agriculture Department on Tuesday searched his house and collected the seed samples to be sent to the testing.

Hundreds of farmers on Monday had joined in what they termed as the ‘civil disobedience’ movement, to protest central government’s indecisiveness in approving the next generation of GM cotton, as farmer leader Lalit Patil-Bahale sowed seeds of the illegal herbicide tolerant (HT) Bt cotton and Bt Brinjal, in his field in Akoli Jahangir in Akola’s Akot tehsil.

The open defiance of law was organised by SS, a farmers’ organisation which has been an advocate of open market in the field of agriculture.

“Today, the officials from the Agriculture department visited my house and seized samples of seeds which were sown yesterday. I had openly announced that we will be breaking the law and was ready for any type of repercussions,” said Mr Patil-Bahale.

He said that the officials told him that samples will be sent for tests to determine whether it was really a banned HTBt cotton seed. “If they had decided to wait to test on cotton crop, then they would have had to wait for two months. It seems they were in a hurry,” he said.

Akola district collector Jitendra Papalkar told The Hindu that the farmers’ body has committed an illegal act. “We have sent a team of agriculture officers and will be seeking the report from them, following which necessary action would be taken,” he said.

Breaking law by planting unapproved GM seed may attract imprisonment of up to five years and monetary fine worth ₹1 lakh.The anti-GM crop activists too had termed the action by SS as one similar to bio-terrorism, risking the lives of future generations.

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