Farmers’ union Shetkari Sanghatana has announced that it will provide farmers seeds of the unapproved herbicide tolerant (Ht) Bt cotton at their door steps. Lalit Patil, president of the organisation, said they will start an online registration process for farmers to help them access such seeds easily.
Since 2018, the Shetkari Sanghatana has started a public civil disobedience movement demanding the legalisation of this transgenic cotton.
BT cotton, which is obtained by introducing foreign genes Cry1Ac and Cry 2Ab extracted from soil bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis (hence the abbreviation BT) is resistant to the attack of pink bollworm, but is unable to stand the application of glyphosate.
HT Bt cotton solves this problem by introducing another gene Cp4-Epsps’ from another soil bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which allows the cotton plant to withstand the application of glyphosate. As manual weed control is both uneconomical as well as labour intensive for growers, HtBt cotton has gained traction among farmers.
The Sanghatana has been at the forefront of the demand for allowing latest technology in the field. Patil claimed around 26 per cent of Maharashtra’s cotton area has already come under HtBt cotton.