Biotech Updates

Indian Farmers Continue Their Efforts to Assert Right to Plant Herbicide Tolerant Cotton Seeds

June 26, 2019

The Indian farmers' fight to gain access more biotech seeds is not yet over. After over a thousand of farmers conducted a protest in Maharashtra by planting Bt brinjal and herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton seeds, which are not yet approved in the country, a farmer organization known as Shetkari Sangathana is currently collecting support from peasants to seek free access to agri-biotechnology, particularly to use herbicide tolerant seeds. 

However, the experts are raising concerns regarding the use of glyphosate herbicide, which is used along with HT seeds. According to the former director of Central Institute of Cotton Research and current head of the technical section of the International Cotton Advisory Council in the U.S., Keshav Sranthi, even if the HT seeds would be allowed in India, glyphosate is only recommended for use in teal plantations and barren land. 

Shetkari Sangathana president, Anil Ghanawat, said that Monsanto has withdrawn their application for approval in India in 2016 due to low royalty it would have got from the seeds. Ghanawat also emphasized that glyphosate is non-selective and can be used on the cotton crop. According to ISAAA GM Approval Database, 22 glyphosate tolerant cotton events are approved for planting in other countries. 

Another group of female farmers also joined the protest by planting unapproved biotech cotton with herbicide tolerance and insect tolerance traits at Pusada village in Amravati district. This act also aimed at calling the attention of the government to allow the farmers to plant HT cotton seeds, which help farmers save time and resources for manual weeding.

Read more from the Times of India and Genetic Literacy Project.