Farmers in Maharashtra Thursday welcomed the state government's move to ban Bt cotton seeds which have created many problems for the agricultural community, mainly in Vidarbha region, an activist said.
The move was announced in the Maharashtra legislature by Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil Wednesday.
The minister said the decision was based on many complaints of the farming community and reports of agriculture officers that the Mahyco Monsanto Biotech had been allegedly supplying sub-standard seeds.
According to Vidarbha Jan Andola Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari, the government move is most welcome as the company had failed to supply good quality seeds despite taking huge amounts as advance from debt-trapped cotton farmers in the region.
MMB is a joint venture between Mahyco, Maharashtra, and Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd., USA which has sub-licensed Bollgard II and Bollgard technologies to 28 Indian seed companies since 2005.
Tiwari claimed that after the commercial trials of the genetically modified seeds were started, it triggered a spate of suicides among cotton farmers, which continues unabated till date.
He alleged that the monopolistic US multinational corporation has been duping innocent farmers and demanded a ban on all the other 28 sub-licensed companies in the country.
Tiwari pointed out that though the minister has announced the ban on Mahyco-Monsanto, there is no clarity on the situation of their 28 sub-licences, and urged the government to make its stand on the issue clear immediately.
The Bt cotton seeds should be replaced by traditional Indian cotton seeds as they are much more cost-effective than the Bt varieties, are ready for plucking in just 150-160 days compared to Bt's 180-200 days, thus reducing the need for additional inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and other nutrients.
Presently, India ranks at the top in Bt.Cotton cultivation covering 126 lakh hectares, up from just four lakh hectares in the past decade or so.
However, in view of the general disadvantages plus health issues associated, we are in favour of a complete ban on all genetically modified technology in India, Tiwari said.