Farmers defy ban, sow GM crop in Haryana

Govt. to take action if claim is true

Published - July 05, 2019 11:20 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

Farmers supporting the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) varieties of crops in the country on Friday claimed to have sown seeds of the banned herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton in Haryana.

Reacting to it, the State’s Agriculture Department said that it would investigate the matter and take action if found true.

Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Haryana unit president Gun Parkash told The Hindu that a group of farmers have defied the government ban on the cultivation of GM crops at the Sarangpur village in Hisar district.

“Today, we have sown herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton in the field of one of our fellow farmers at Sarangpur to express anguish against the government. By using GM technology, costs are reduced, insect-pest attacks lowered and yield increased, but in our country, farmers in distress cannot reap the benefits of GM crops. We want the government to allow the cultivation of GM crops,” said Mr. Parkash.

“We will examine the seeds which have been sown by the farmers at Sarangpur and if it is found to be a banned GM variety, then surely necessary action will be taken,” said Suresh Gahlawat, additional director with the Haryana Agriculture Department.

Maharashtra protest

A few hundred farmers had similarly gathered on June 10 at Akot village in Maharashtra’s Akola district and sown herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton seeds to register their protest.

Cases were later slapped on at least 12 farmers under the Indian Penal Code sections dealing with cheating and dishonesty, along with sections of the Environment Protection Act and the Seeds Act.

In India so far, no GM “food crop” has been given the nod due to biosafety issues. Only Bt cotton cultivation is allowed in India as a “non-food crop”.

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