Flourishing trade in spurious GM seeds adds to farmers’ woes

When Arvind Shinde (name improved), a farmer from Aurangabad acquired a bag of HT cotton seeds from a trader, he was absolutely sure of getting a bumper crop. Having said that, as seeds failed to germinate he realised that he was duped by the trader. But he could not register a police criticism or technique the State government for compensation.

Bt cotton is the only Genetically Modified crop accredited for commercial cultivation in India and, thus, cultivation of other unapproved GM crops is banned.

But Shinde nevertheless desires to go forward with HT cotton and Bt brinjal cultivation. “HT seeds will give bumper crop and will enable me to gain some revenue,” he suggests confidently. But it is not just Shinde, countless numbers of farmers are getting GM seeds in the current market and many get duped.

Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana, the apex farmers’ body Maharashtra, alleges“Along with HT cotton, Bt brinjal, and now HT soya seeds are also in the black current market. The government has banned GM crops but GM seeds are readily available in the current market and farmers are cultivating. About 25 for every cent of Maharashtra’s cotton cultivation underneath HT cotton. There is a multi-crore current market that is operating in GM seeds and many firms are by providing spurious GM seeds.”

Ghanwat added, “ The only possibility to help you save farmers from bogus seed firms is to allow the cultivation of GM crop”.

Last year the Union Ministry of Agriculture admitted in the Lok Sabha that couple incidences of suspected open cultivation of Bt brinjal and HT cotton were reported in Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The committee appointed by the Division of Biotechnology to examine the creation of Bt cotton seeds with unapproved genes observed unapproved cotton was developed, on an typical, on fifteen for every cent of the cotton-cultivable area in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana, and five for every cent in Punjab in the course of the 2017-eighteen season.

Farmers allege a nexus of government officials, seed firms, traders and middlemen operating in Gujarat, Telangana and Maharashtra which is enabling sell of banned GM seeds.

“The National Seed Affiliation of India (NSAI) stands with India’s regulations and not GM vigilantism. The illegal unfold of HT BT seeds is a destructive try to undermine our sovereignty and contaminate authorized cotton seed businesses. We stand for new technologies, but not via illegal means” mentioned Indra Shekhar Singh, Director – Coverage and Outreach, NSAI.

He added, “ Our member firms have been the worst strike by this contamination, as fly-by-evening operators are sporadically planting HT seeds in their breeding fielding and consequently earning them liable for criminal prosecution We have already found instances in Maharashtra, Telengana, etc”. NSAI has appealed to the government once again to acquire stringent actions towards these enthusiastic brokers, and also established a new parameter for seed large amount contamination. NSAI added that Indian seeds firms are the victims and not the culprits.