AP Seeks to Legitimize the Cultivation of GM Cotton

Andhra Pradesh government has set up a panel to study the efficacy of the seed in the fields based on a representation from local farmers, in a move that seeks to legitimize the cultivation of Roundup Ready Flex or Glycel BT hybrid cotton (BG II RRF).

According to recent report, the twin traits of herbicide tolerance as well as bollworm resistance have made this genetically modified (GM) hybrid cotton so popular among farmers in major cotton growing states that it now accounts for 15-20 per cent of cotton sowing area in the country.

While constituting a committee besides directing it to submit a report on the efficacy of the hybrid seed within two weeks, the state government stated in its orders, "Farmers of Amaravati Mandal, Guntur District have stated that they are cultivating RRF or Glycel BT Hybrid Cotton Seeds during last year and this year, in view of its efficacy and resistance in weed management. This cotton seed is under cultivation in 50 per cent of cotton growing villages and 15 per cent of the total state."

As the herbicide tolerance trait was not yet approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the entire supply and sale of RRF seed is being done by grey market operators. GEAC is the regulatory body that monitors the activities related to genetically modified plant and food materials in the country.

The seed has no legitimate owner in India, even though both herbicide tolerance and bollgard technologies were developed by US company Monsanto, believed to have been slipped into the hands of plant breeders from one of the field trials permitted by GEAC years ago.

Elaborating the purpose of its move, AP government stated that the farmers have requested to supply better quality seed (containing these two GM features) developed through research stations by normal breeding methods 'as there were no patent rights required on plants and seeds in view of the seed control price order as per clarification is given by the Government of India'.

The farmers have also sought permission to develop new seed varieties themselves and for Government of India's intervention for the supply of RRF/Glycel BT seed. according to AP government.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/

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