Andhra Pradesh Suspends Licenses of Top Seed Companies

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

The matter of illegal sowing of HT (herbicide-tolerant) cotton has surfaced again with the Andhra Pradesh government cancelling the licence of one seed company while suspending the licences of 13 others for one year.

Reports from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had indicated that 20-30 per cent of the total cotton acreage last year was under the illegal HT cotton.  A State Government official said,  “We are cancelling the license of Narmada Sagar AgriSeeds Private Limited of Kurnool.  Other seed majors such as Nuziveedu Seeds, Kaveri Seeds and Ankur Seeds also lose their licenses for one year. 

The AP government, which was first amongst other States to act against the unlawful spread of the HT cottonseeds in 2018, has noticed a similar activity this year too triggering action on the errant companies.

The herbicide-tolerant cottonseed technology has not yet received permission from the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) — the Apex Central Government agency that receives and considers applications from agri-biotech companies on new technologies and traits. 

The RoundUp Ready technology, developed by Monsanto, gives genetic protection to cotton plants to withstand the chemical spray, while the weed, which has no defense, is killed by the herbicide Glyphosate. 

 Despite the technology not getting GEAC’s approval and restrictions on Glyphosate, farmers get HT seeds from unscrupulous sources. 

The National Seed Association of India (NSAI) added  that the Department’s action was only knee-jerk in nature and “it’s letting go the real culprits off the hook.” Responding to the suspension of licenses of some of its members on the contamination grounds, the NSAI shot off a three-page note to the Commissioner of Agriculture. 

 “What the Government should do is 100 per cent sampling of all seed lots before they are released in the market. It needs extensive testing to keep tabs,” RK Trivedi, Director (Technical), said.   

“It looks like about 15 per cent of the cotton area in Andhra Pradesh this year would be under the HT cotton,” an industry source said. 

Asking the Agriculture Department to go for a curative action, the NSAI wanted it to provide holograms on the lots that are screened. 

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