ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Planting of Illegal Crops

The need for technology in agriculture is often confused with giving farmers access to genetically modified crops. Rarely is the performance of the country’s first GM crop, Bt cotton, examined under a critical lens. Instead, the backdoor entry of illegal GM seeds is gaining momentum in the name of progress and of giving farmers a choice. The absence of a strict regulation regime is sorely felt. Research on agriculture and sustainability is the need of the hour.

Since some months, the country has witnessed two farmers’ organisations launching campaigns diametrically opposed to each other. Connected with this is the debate on technology or technological advancements in the agriculture sector in India, which is practically non-existent, and farmers are certainly hardly ever consulted in this regard. The cries for newer seeds and high-tech interventions have been brought to the fore by the defiant ongoing campaign by the Shetkari Sanghatana, launched on 10 June 2019 in a village in Akola, Maharashtra, somewhat inspired by the detection of Bt brinjal in a farmer’s field in Fatehabad district, Haryana in April. The campaign is underway in various districts of Maharashtra to plant genetically modified (GM) seeds, namely Bt brinjal and herbicide-tolerant Bt (HTBt) cotton. The Sanghatana’s logic is that transgenic seeds are good for farmers as Bt brinjal uses less chemicals. It also made a representation in July to the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, demanding “freedom of technology” for the farmers.

Another farmers’ organisation, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), while taking an opposite stand, held demonstrations in 1,423 blocks in 436 districts in 30 states in India on 8 and 9 August 2019 along with its supporters. More than 72,000 farmers submitted petitions to the district collectors, block development officers and subdivisional magistrates demanding an end to the planting of illegal seeds. The BKS president Badrinarayan Choudhary also wrote a letter on 19 August to the Prime Minister demanding action against those forces and companies that were spearheading the campaign to promote illegal GM seeds, saying that these cause a huge risk to the soil, public health, lives and environment.

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Updated On : 22nd Oct, 2019
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