India’s cotton farmers turn to black market herbicide-tolerant GM varieties to improve yields

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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops with new transgenic traits such as herbicide tolerance (HT) is spreading fast in cotton growing states even though no license or approval has been granted by authorities such as [the Genetic Engineering Appraisals Committee] or [Indian Council of Agricultural Research] for growing them in India.

Farmers are swayed by the multiple benefits of these GM varieties, which are being sold illegally, as they offer the twin advantage of bollworm resistance and herbicide tolerance. In comparison, the approved Bt variety (Bollgard I and Bollgard II) is only bollworm-resistant.

The new GM varieties are being sold at half the price of approved hybrid cotton seeds by the grey market players, who seem to be outsmarting regulatory officials by operating directly in remote parts without any valid licenses.

“During a recent field visit, I tried to sensitise a group of farmers about the risk involved in buying the cotton seed without an invoice. What they told me was this: We understand the risk in the event of a crop failure. But we have only seen the benefits so far and the yields are also better,” N Kumara Swamy, deputy director, in-charge of Seed Cell at the Agriculture Commissionerate of Telangana government, told Business Standard.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Grey market corners new GM hybrids as farmers look beyond Bt cotton

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