24 November, 2020


Illegal variants of GM seeds are threatening the future of cotton in India

Rarish Joshi
The biotech revolution in India has turned into a nightmare. At least in Gujarat, where cotton farmers are happily using illegal versions of genetically-modified (GM) cotton seeds. The so-called regulator set up by the environment ministry, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), has failed to exercise any control on what's happening in the fields. What's worse is that no one has any idea of the impact these illegal seeds can have on the future cotton crop in the state.

The drama began after the GEAC gave monopoly rights to Monsanto, an American MNC, and its Indian partner, the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Corporation (Mahyco), to sell their Bollgard cotton seeds. But by then, an illegal variant, Navbharat 151, grown over 11,000 acres by Ahmedabad's Navbharat Seeds, was already selling in the market. In October 2001, the GEAC asked the state government to destroy Rs 150-crore worth of Navbharat cotton crop. But nothing happened. Except that Navbharat Seeds' owner, Dinkar B. Desai, went into hiding in the wake of the controversy.

But the state's farmers, who...


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