Maharashtra Farmers defy ban on GM Crops

As a protest against the ban on HTBt Cotton and Bt Brinjal, Farmers in Maharashtra sowed them in their fields. Maharashtra government had banned Bt cotton variety HTBt in 2015 and there is a ban by the union government on Bt brinjal cultivation since 2010.

The variant HTBt cotton is still unapproved and the Bt Brinjal was prohibited for cultivation since 2010.

India s saga with BT Brinjal

  • Bacillus Thuringiensis Brinjal widely referred to as Bt brinjal is a genetically modified entity jointly created by Indian seeds company Mahyco and American multinational Monsanto.
  • BT Brinjal was developed as pest-resistant variety would help improve yield and overall production since up to a fifth of the brinjal crop was getting damaged by pests.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), India s biotech regulator in 2009 approved BT brinjal to be safe and had asked the government to take a final call.
  • Due to protests by civil society over field trials the Ministry of environment, forest and climate change put a moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal in 2010.

Making Way to India

  • In the meantime, the same variety of BT Brinjal made it to Bangladesh for field trials in 2006 and was approved for cultivation in 2013.
  • About 50,000 farmers have been growing Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh. Some of the seeds believed to have been made their way illegally in India from the neighbouring country.

Even though India is yet to approve any GM technology in food crops, Indians are consuming around 11 lakh tonnes of cottonseed oil made out of Bt cotton together with some GM crops which have been cultivated illegally.