Indian farmers promise ‘large-scale planting’ of illegal GMO seeds despite government threats

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Shetkari Sanghatana — the farmers’ union founded by the late leader Sharad Joshi — announced fresh plans in its agitation for use of genetically modified seeds. In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of GM seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved. Farmers had carried out a similar movement last year, too.

In the case of cotton, farmers cite the high cost of weeding, which goes down considerably if they grow Ht Bt cotton and use glyphosate against weeds. Brinjal growers in Haryana have rooted for Bt brinjal as it reduces the cost of production by cutting down on the use of pesticides.

Haryana has reported farmers growing Bt brinjal in pockets which had caused a major agitation there. In June last year, in a movement led by Shetkari Sanghatana in Akola district of Maharashtra, more than 1,000 farmers defied the government and sowed Ht Bt cotton. The Akola district authorities subsequently booked the organizers.

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The Sanghatana has announced that this year they are going to undertake large-scale sowing of unapproved GM crops like maize, Ht Bt cotton, soyabean and brinjal across Maharashtra. Farmers who plant such variants will put up boards on their fields proclaiming the GM nature of their crop. Anil Ghanwat, president of the union …. said farmers will not be deterred by any action taken against them by the authorities.

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