Telangana Govt bans Glyphosate

The Telangana Government recently imposed a total ban on Glyphosate.

About Glyphosate

  • The Glyphosate is a controversial herbicide usually use to kill weeds in cotton farms.
  • The usage of Glyphosate is banned because it is carcinogenic. Also, it is being banned to control the illegal cultivation of HTBt cotton.
  • Glyphosate is absorbed through foliage (plant leaves). It is minimally absorbed by roots.
  • In 2015, World Health Organisation classified Glyphosate under Category 2A, that is, a “Probably Carcinogenic in Humans”.

Why do farmers prefer HTBt cotton?

The cost of HTBt seeds is Rs 1,500 per 450 gram pack. This is higher than the Bollgard Cotton II which costs Rs 740 per 450 gram pack. Still farmers prefer HTBt cotton for its overall low cost of production.

A normal cotton grower spends Rs 15,400 in rainfed land and Rs 23,500 per acre in irrigation to grow GM (Genetically Modified) cotton. Of this around 20% to 25% is spent in removing weeds. On the other hand, HTBt cotton farmers can save this expenditure on weed management. They can simply spray Glyphosate as it won’t affect HTBt. This is because, the normal cotton cannot withstand Glyphosate, while HTBt cotton can.

What is the issue?

Around eight to ten lakh acres of land in Telangana are under herbicide tolerant HTBt cotton. These cultivations have not received proper permission for commercial use. The Genetic Appraisal Engineering Committee (GEAC) has not yet approved HTBt cotton.

The Glyphosate leaches into food and water and causes chronic kidney diseases in humans.

The Glyphosate is also used as Crop Desiccant. A crop desiccant is applied to the crops just before harvest. The crop desiccants kill out leaves/plants allowing the plants to dry quickly and evenly from environmental conditions.

Steps by Telangana Government

In 2018, the Telangana Government had put restrictions on the sale of Glyphosate. This was done to curb the illegal use of herbicide-tolerant BT cotton. In spite of the restrictions, the usage did not stop. Again in 2019, the Telangana Government increased the restrictions on usage of Glyphosate. With no outcomes to restrictions being imposed, the State Government has now completely banned the herbicide.

Other States

  • In 2020-21, around 35% of area under cotton cultivation in Maharashtra were illegal.
  • A significant number of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat have cultivated HTBt cotton in 2020-21.
  • The illegal cultivation began in 2019. Today more than 50% of the total area of cotton under cultivation in India is HTBt.
  • Kerala has also imposed ban on Glyphosate.
  • The Glyphosate is allowed to be used in tea plantations and in non-crop areas.

Other countries

  • Sri Lanka banned Glyphosate in 2014. However, the ban was lifted in 2018 when the tea plantation owners complained of economic losses.
  • Argentina tried to ban it in 2017. In 2018, it was found out that in the areas where Glyphosate-tolerant GM Soy was cultivated birth defects increased twice and miscarriages increased thrice.

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