Task Force urged for CBI enquiry on reports of unapproved GM cotton grown in 8.5 lakh hectare of Rs 472 crore
20th October 2017
After Maharashtra agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar's call for a ban on the herbicide tolerant (HT) genetically modified cotton now veteran farm activist and Special Task Force in Maharashtra to tackle agrarian crisis (Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission-VNSSM) chairman Kishor Tiwari today urged central Govt. order CBI enquiry on the reports of Delhi-based South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) that the illegal market is worth about Rs 472 crore of around 35 lakh packets of illegal HT cotton hybrids sale in this kharif season across Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra, Odisha, Karnataka and MP. Around 8.5 lakh hectares, or 7% of the total cotton growing area in the country , is under the illegal HT cultivation.
"This is shocking report and needs look in to the functioning of Centre's Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) and Indian council of Agri.Research (ICAR) along with Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), (Nagpur) as they are responsible to stop the illegal sale and cultivation of HT cotton as rampant sale is continued even after it was brought to notice of the central and the state governments asking them to seriously look into the issue of rampant illegal and spurious sale of HT cotton, locate and destroy the illegal hybrid seeds production plots.It is also reported that though HT cotton is being grown in Brazil, USA and some countries from 1998, it has not been technically and officially approved in India so far" TIwari added.
This is very serious issue as the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), (Nagpur) even had found six of nine cottonseed hybrids testing positive for herbicide tolerance. It did not bother to inform the state government until this month, and that too, only when Maharashtra's Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Bijay Kumar, sought to know whether such report in fact existed.Kumar had sought information after he was alerted by media reports about extensive cultivation of HT cotton in Gujarat, Maharashtra,Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka whereas in India has tough laws and regulations for approval of GM crops -- they are required to meet strict bio-safety standards to obviate risk to humans, animals and the environment -- but attitudes like that of CICR and the central and state agriculture departments allow a free play to rogue actors hence needs CBI investigations ,Tiwari urged
It is also that the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has turned a blind eye to the issue. report says Monsanto, which owns the HT trait found in CICR's samples, says it has been bringing the practice to the notice of GEAC since 2008 and most recently in August hence larger involvement of regulatory bodies need to be scanned by legal experts ,Tiwari added.