Defying law, Indian farm group says it planted unapproved GM cotton seeds

MUMBAI (Reuters) – An Indian farm group said its members had planted a variety of genetically modified cotton seeds which have not been approved by the country’s government, an offence that could result in five years imprisonment.

It is the first time farmers, who argue that they shouldn’t be deprived of any new technology, have acknowledged planting the herbicide-tolerant cotton variety, which was developed by German drugmaker Bayer AG’s Monsanto unit.

Industry officials estimate the area planted with such seeds reached at least 10 percent of the 12.2 million hectares of Indian cotton acreage in 2018 and Anil Ghanwat, president of the Shetkari Sangathana farmers union, said there is likely to be an increase this year.

“Until last year, farmers were cultivating the unapproved seeds covertly. From this year, we will plant them publicly,” Ghanwat said.

“This is a civil disobedience movement to highlight oppressive government laws,” he added.

A spokesman for Bayer said cultivation of unapproved technologies without following mandatory guidelines would set a bad precedent and would be akin to dismantling the country’s robust regulatory process.

India approved the use of genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in 2002 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform the country into the world’s top producer and second-largest exporter of the fibre.

However, Monsanto withdrew an application seeking approval for the latest variety after a royalty dispute with the government in 2016.

The herbicide-tolerant variety, which helps farmers reduce weed management costs, has seeped into Indian agriculture anyway, boosting sales of glyphosate-based weedkillers, which environmental activists say could spoil local biodiversity.

Lalit Bahale, a farmer from Akola district in Maharashtra state, planted the seeds during a public event on Monday organised by Shetkari Sangathana ahead of this year’s cotton planting season, which lasts during the rainy months of June and July.

“I know the law, but still I broke as it is against farmers’ rights,” he said.

Under India’s Environment Protection Act, farmers can be imprisoned for up to five years and fined 100,000 rupees ($1,436.99) for planting any unapproved seed variety.

Just before the 2017 harvest season, authorities found traces of the Monsanto seeds in the key cotton producing states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The federal and state governments last year warned seed distributors and farmers against planting and selling the unapproved variety.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by Mayank Bhardwaj and Kirsten Donovan

Source

more recommended stories

  • Honduran president sends military to keep order after protests turn violent

    TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduran President Juan.

  • Trump says he is ready to press China’s Xi on case of two detained Canadians

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • EU leaders may toughen climate goal for 2050, haggle over top jobs

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU’s 28.

  • Turkey’s Erdogan says he believes U.N. will look into death of Egypt’s Mursi

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during.

  • Iran’s Guards shoot down U.S. ‘spy’ drone in southern province – Iran media

    DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s elite Revolutionary.

  • China’s Xi leaves for first state visit to North Korea

    FILE PHOTO: China’s President Xi Jinping.

  • OBJECTION! Ex-Trump aide Hicks tight-lipped in U.S. House interview

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hope Hicks, formerly.

  • U.N. report sees credible evidence linking Saudi crown prince to Khashoggi murder

    GENEVA/RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Crown Prince.

  • U.S. House Speaker Pelosi cites need to impeach Trump if wrongdoing found

    U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

  • Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra, three hurt

    BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – A rocket.

  • Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra, two hurt

    BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – A rocket.

  • China completes outer dome on overseas Hualong One reactor in Pakistan

    SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China has finished.

  • Women’s sex toy maker sues New York City subway, calls ad ban sexist

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A new.

  • EU delays decision on membership talks with Albania, North Macedonia

    LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – European Union governments.

  • In battleground state of Florida, Trump to launch re-election campaign

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump.

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Klobuchar details top policy goals

    FILE PHOTO: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

  • Former Egyptian president Mursi buried in Cairo, son says

    Policemen guard outside the cemetary where.

  • Exclusive: U.S. preparing to send more troops to Middle East – sources

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States.

  • U.S. military releases new images from oil tanker attacks

    A U.S. military image released by.

  • Triple suicide attack kills at least 30 in northeast Nigeria

    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – At least.

  • Stonewall uprising veterans still astounded 50 years after making history

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Time has.

  • Freed Hong Kong democracy activist joins mass calls for leader to quit

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Activist Joshua.

  • In Algeria, conservatives weigh in against pressure for Western-style democracy

    HAIZER, Algeria (Reuters) – While tens.

  • Chinese activists seek U.N. investigation into Tiananmen crackdown

    FILE PHOTO: Thousands of people take.

  • German town backs Merkel’s CDU, rejects AfD in vote for mayor

    GOERLITZ, Germany (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela.

  • Massive blackout hobbles South America, one-third of power back in Argentina

    BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Power had.

  • ‘Sea of black’ Hong Kong protesters demand leader step down

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hundreds of.

  • Cricket: Pakistan PM Khan tells players to beat India with mental strength

    ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani prime minister.

  • Japanese police officer stabbed in possible targeted attack – NHK

    TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese police.

  • Magnitude 7.4 earthquake strikes Kermadec Islands in South Pacific: warning center

    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A 7.4 magnitude.

  • Iran summons UK envoy over ‘unfounded’ tanker accusations

    FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is.

  • Jailed British-Iranian aid worker in Iran starts hunger strike – husband

    LONDON (Reuters) – A British-Iranian aid.