25 July, 2021

The Gen(i)e Is Out Again

The cultivation of Bt cotton, a genetically modified seed, in Gujarat opens an old can of worms

Tribhuvan Tiwari
The Gen(i)e Is Out Again
When news washed up last week about farmers in Gujarat farming Bt cotton 'on the sly', it again fanned the smouldering debate over genetically modified (GM) crops. The government is still wondering whether to burn down the illegally grown Bt cotton on some 10,000 acres of farmland in the state. But it won't be easy as the crop is valued at crores of rupees and the Gujarat government is unlikely to antagonise the farmers.

It all began earlier this month when Mumbai-based Mahyco, India's biggest seed company and the sole applicant for permission to sell GM cotton seeds in India, confirmed its suspicions about the sale of illegal GM cotton seeds in Gujarat. Raju Barwale, MD of Mahyco, shot off a letter to the Union government's department of biotechnology (dbt) and other authorities concerned demanding punitive action against the offender. The dbt's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (geac) in turn asked the Gujarat government to burn the crop. Experts, however, believe that by the time the government makes up its mind on the issue, there will be no crop to speak...

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