Herbicide-tolerant cotton seeds experimented?

Seeds sold to farmers without getting approval from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee

Published - December 12, 2017 12:57 am IST - SANGAREDDY

In protest mode: The AIKS activists and cotton farmers staging dharna in front of Collector’s office at Sangareddy on Monday.

In protest mode: The AIKS activists and cotton farmers staging dharna in front of Collector’s office at Sangareddy on Monday.

Farmers in the district allege they have been taken for a ride by the seed companies and Pink Bollwarm has affected the fields resulting in huge loss.

Some of the farmers had also bought herbicide-tolerant seeds which were reportedly sold in the villages by some unidentified persons. It was suspected that the herbicide-tolerant cotton seeds, still at experimental stage, were sold to farmers without getting approval from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

V. Madduleti, a farmer from Atmakur in Sadashivapet mandal, had migrated from Kurool district in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh more than two-and-a-half decades ago and living in the village by investing whatever he is earning on the leased land. He does not own single acre of land, but cultivates cotton in 28 acres.

The lease per acre is about ₹18,000 per acre and total lease amount he has to shell down has crossed ₹5 lakh. In addition, he spent about ₹20,000 per acre, which comes to about ₹5.6 lakh, expecting a good return of cotton yield. But, the cotton crop failed him pushing into a debt trap of ₹10 lakh.

“The fact is BG Cotton - III, which was otherwise being mentioned as Herbicide-Tolerant Cotton containing Round-up Ready and Round-up Flex (RRF) gene was cultivated by many farmers. A letter written by the State Government in the first week of this month to the Centre admits that the unapproved RRF trait got released into the field and now it is expected to be found in the cotton crop raised by farmers covering considerable area. Also it is spreading rapidly and contaminating other cotton hybrid varieties causing threat to the biological resources besides causing health hazards with the usage of Glyphosate in cotton fields,” said Sarampally Malla Reddy, vice-president, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

The letter has also stated that the staff of Agriculture Department had found in their filed visit that unapproved herbicide-tolerance trait was grown by cotton farmers. “The farmers had incurred huge loss due to the sale of spurious seeds by cotton seed production companies. Take action against the companies responsible for the situation and pay a compensation of ₹50,000 per acre,” demanded Mr. Malla Reddy while addressing a dharna held by cotton farmers in front of the Collectorate here on Monday. A large number of farmers from Sadashivapet madnal participated in the agitation.

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