India floats glyphosate weedkiller restrictions to curb demand for illegal herbicide-tolerant cotton

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Credit: Adrian Arbib

The agriculture ministry, in a draft notification, has restricted the use of glyphosate only through Pest Control Operators (PCOs). “No person shall use glyphosate except through Pest Control Operators,” the draft notification read. The ministry has given 30 days for objections or suggestions on the draft order dated July 8, 2020.

The move to restrict glyphosate is likely to be aimed at controlling the spread of illegal herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton, which more farmers are seen planting this year.

“Cotton (HT) growers use glyphosate to kill weeds as cotton (HT) is glyphosate resistant. So, by banning glyphosate, government is trying to discourage farmers from growing (HT) cotton, which is economical as it saves human labor. But this can be counterproductive as glyphosate may be sold in black market like (HT) cotton seeds,” said an industry official, who did not wish to be named.

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Rajesh Agarwal, managing director, Insecticides India Ltd, said that the decision may hurt sales. “The government’s decision is difficult to implement and may hurt sales. The use of PCOs for spraying would also add to the costs of the farmers,” he said.

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