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Telangana Government Imposes Total Ban on Herbicide Glyphosate

Shipra Singh
Shipra Singh
Cotton branch on a table

The Telangana Government declared a complete ban on the controversial herbicide, Glyphosate, which is used rampantly by farmers to kill weeds in HTBt cotton crop. The reason for the ban is that the excess use of this herbicide by farmers is causing harm to soil and human health.  

As per a notice issued by the state government, anybody violating the ban will be punished under the Insecticide Act 1968. So, manufacturers, dealers, and retailers need to be more cautious.  

The principal Secretary of Agriculture, Government of Telangana, B Janardhan Reddy said, " We have decided to ban it completely in the state. Earlier, there used to be some exclusions but we found that exclusion was used as an excuse for its spread. So, we have decided to ban it completely." 

"It is being used illegally in cotton crop. We have decided to put an end to this practice," he added.  

Controversial herbicide used on illegal crop!  

According to reports, around 8-10 lakh acres of the state are under HTBt (Herbicide Tolerant Bt) cotton, and this has not received the permission from the state for commercial use. To put it in other words, HTBt cotton is not approved by the Genetic Appraisal Engineering Committee (GAEC) as made compulsory by the Union Government. Bt crops need approval from the government for use.  

Yet, farmers are rampantly growing this cotton all over. And they use glyphosate herbicide generously. They believe that the crop is resistant to herbicide, so nothing will happen to it. But, they do not realize that liberal doses of herbicide gets soaked in the soil and it can harm soil health. Besides, it gets transferred to human body and can harm in the long run.  

The secret behind growing HTBt cotton 

Despite being illegal, farmers grow HTBt cotton without hesitation because this cotton helps farmers save huge on cultivation costs. HTBt cotton seeds are available at Rs. 1500 for 450 gram pack. Although the seeds are costlier than the seeds of Bollgard Cotton II, which are available at Rs. 740 per pack, farmers prefer HTBt cotton seeds due to overall low cost of production this crop offers.  

A typical cotton grower spends Rs. 23,500 per acre in irrigation and Rs. 15, 400 in irrigation of rainfed land to grow GM cotton. Out of this, 25% of the cost of irrigated farms and 20% cost of rainfed farms goes in removing weeds, which are a nuisance in cotton crop. Weeds affect growth of cotton.  

In case of HTBt cotton, farmers can save this expenditure on weed management because they can easily spray glyphosate. It won't harm the crop because it is herbicide-resistant and the weeds die.  

The biggest pitfall of using glyphosate 

Farmers are happy that their crop stays unaffected. But, they are not realizing that the herbicide and its residues leach into food and water, which are consumed by humans. According to medical reports, one of the main causes of chronic kidney disease is the presence of this herbicide in human body system.  

As per a statement by the CEO of Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), GV Ramanjaneyulu, chronic kidney disease is becoming common in Sri Lanka. That's why they have gone organic and banned all agrochemicals.  

Government's shut eye 

The CEO of CSA blames the government for doing nothing and letting farmers grow HTBt cotton extensively throughout the state. He says, "sale of around 20 lakh packets annually in a state cannot happen without the support of officials and politicians." 

The illegal HTBt scene is same in other states too 

Cotton cultivation in Maharashtra state is done in about 29% of land in Kharif season. Out of this, farmers have sown this illegal cotton in about 25-35% of the area under cotton in July 2020 to June 2021.  

A significant number of farmers in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana grew HTBt cotton this season, says a report. Telangana has surpassed Gujarat in cotton cultivation 

It all began in 2019 when farmers started cultivating this illegal cotton crop. The practice gained momentum in 2020. Today, around 50% of the total area under cotton is under this illegal HTBt cotton variety.  

In addition to Telangan, Kerala has also imposed a ban on glyphosate.  

Do you know the penal provision says that selling, storing, carrying, and sowing of unauthorized GM crops can lead to 5 years' imprisonment and Rs. 5 lakh fine?  

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