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Farmers in Maharashtra Plan to Re-Launch Pro-GM Crop Movement

Only GM Cotton has been certified for commercial cultivation in India by the Indian government so far. "There are no cases documented on the impact on human health, environment, or extinction of any butterflies in India," the Ministry of Environment told the Rajya Sabha in December.

Shivam Dwivedi
Farmers Plan to Re-Launch Pro-GM Crop Movement
Farmers Plan to Re-Launch Pro-GM Crop Movement

Farmers from Maharashtra's Shetkari Sanghatana are planning to disobey the government's prohibition on genetically modified (GM) crops once more. Thousands of farmers have been seeding and cultivating herbicide-tolerant Bt (HTBt) cotton and Bt brinjal in open fields since 2019. The pro-GM crop movement in Maharashtra will be relaunched on Thursday.

"On January 17th, we wrote to the Prime Minister, requesting that the GM crop prohibition be lifted by February 16th. There hasn't been any communication, and there hasn't been any activity. This leaves us with no choice but to engage in civil disobedience," said Anil Ghanwat, President of the Swatantra Bharat Party, Shetkari Sanghatana's political wing. He further stated that illicit Bt brinjal planting will begin in Shrigonda, Ahmednagar district.

Why ban on Genetically Modified Foods?

Leaders of the Shetkari Sanghatana have demanded that the government reveal whether GM cotton has harmed human health or the environment.

Only GM Cotton has been certified for commercial cultivation in India by the Indian government so far. "There are no cases documented on the impact on human health, environment, or extinction of any butterflies in India," the Ministry of Environment told the Rajya Sabha in December.

"If that's the case, why isn't the government allowing farmers to grow GM crops?" Ghanwat wondered.

Leaders of the Shetkari Sanghatana claim that HT cotton, Bt brinjal, and HT soya seeds are all accessible on the illegal market, along with HT cotton. HT cotton accounts for around a quarter of Maharashtra's cotton production, and there is a multibillion-dollar market for GM seeds. False GM seeds are also available on the market, according to Shetkari Sanghatana leaders, and farmers are being deceived by fraudulent companies.

Actions against farmers

The Ministry of Environment has received complaints of unlawful growth of GM Cotton and brinjal in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Punjab since the pro-GM crop campaign began in 2019. The Centre has requested all states to establish and enhance State Biotechnology Coordination Committees and District Level Committees to monitor unlawful GM crop growing and take appropriate action under the 1986 Environment (Protection) Act.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, claim that states have failed to prosecute those who have broken the law and grown GM crops. The ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress government in Maharashtra have remained silent about the Shetkari Sanghatana's action.

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