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Increase in illegal HTBT cotton cultivation has disastrous consequences: FSII

Expressing concern over the sudden increase in illegal HTBT cotton cultivation this year, Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) and National Seed Association of India (NSAI) have said that quality seed for farmers is the first step towards quality product and better yield. is.

These organizations said that research and development ensure that farmers’ challenges are addressed and they get better varieties to fight pests and diseases. However, unethical activities by anti-social elements break the trust of the farmers and the brands created by years of investment and research and development. It has been grown in major cotton-producing states at low intensity for several years, but this year its sales have risen sharply, posing serious threats to the environment, farmers, legitimate seed companies and government revenues.

The organizations said that during 2017, the issue was raised in the Lok Sabha that farmers in several states were illegally growing unapproved herbicide tolerance (HT) transgenic cotton hybrids. Thereafter, the Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC) was set up by the Prime Minister’s Office under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and this committee confirmed that illegal cultivation of HT Genetically Modified Cotton is taking place in the country. The FISEC panel, after examining thousands of samples, concluded that 15 per cent of unapproved HT cotton cases are in large states such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat.
Dr. M. Ramasamy, President, FSII said, “The area under illegal HT cotton cultivation has been increasing over the years. However, there has been a surge in illegal farming this year, especially in the big cotton growing states and 70 lakh packets were grown this year as against the estimated 35 lakh packets last year. The presence of many technologies is seen in these packets, which can lead to serious conditions in the field. If it is not controlled by the government immediately, its consequences for the industry and farmers will be disastrous.

The NSAI President said, “This will not only hurt the cotton seed companies, but also endanger the entire legitimate cotton seed market in India. The situation is more serious because illegal seeds are sold under the brand names of reputed companies. Therefore, the sale of these illegal cotton seeds also puts the farmers at risk as there is no accountability for the quality of these seeds. These pollute the environment, cause loss to the industry for non-sale of legitimate seeds and loss of revenue to the government in the form of tax collection. Detection by regulators is limited to licensed dealers and seed companies only, while this illegal sale of HT seeds is mostly carried out by unorganized and disappearing operators. Therefore, there is a need to apprehend them and take strict punitive action against them.

In view of the gravity of the situation, these organizations have written to the Ministry of Agriculture and GEAC, urging them to give appropriate instructions to the authorities, so that they take necessary action to check the rise of such illegal activities and take strict action against the offenders.