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Experts Urge The Government To Prohibit Field Testing Of Bt Cotton And Maize

Farmers' groups and experts have banded together to demand that the state government not allow such studies to take place.

Chintu Das
Bt Cotton
Bt Cotton

The government's plan to undertake field trials of genetically modified cotton and maize seeds has riled activists, who have asked the government to reject the plan in order to avoid long-term harm to the agricultural community and the agriculture industry.

The government should focus on encouraging farmers to cultivate a variety of crop kinds

Farmers, organic farming groups, and experts are appealing to the government in Karnataka to stop the government from giving a no-objection certificate (NOC) to a private business to conduct restricted field trials of Bt cotton and Bt maize.

Activists claim that Bt Cotton has harmed lakhs of farmers, with numerous farm suicides related to seeds acquired from a private firm in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.

NOC Sought:

The groups have written to the Principal Secretary of the Environment and Ecological Department, requesting that the government refrain from granting permission to Rallis India Ltd., which has requested permission to conduct field experiments.

The petitioners, which included Nammura Bhoomi Namagirali Anyarigalla (a forum of about 40 organisations including farmers' unions, organic farming associations, farm labourers' unions, Grama Seva Sangha, environmentalist A.N. Yellappa Reddy, science and environment columnist Nagesh Hegde, and agri economist and former chairman of Karnataka Agriculture Prices Commission T.N. Prakash Kammaradi), have stated that the firm applied to the authorities on July 3 for authorisation to conduct trials.

The petitioners highlighted that a Bt cotton type is already available in the state. They said that the state has lost its great diversity in cotton crops since most other farmer- and nature-friendly native cotton types had been phased out since the Bt cotton variety was introduced in 2002.

Global worries about the detrimental impact of BT variants on environment and health, they added. Restricted field trials, they said, can also be harmful.

In the case of maize, the petitioners argue that the government should encourage farmers to produce a diversity of food crops rather than enforcing monoculture, or the cultivation of only one type of maize.

Other nations and states

The petitioners claimed that not only was transgenic technology dangerous, but it is also outdated. According to them, this is why more than 20 nations have outright outlawed GM crops, while half of the 28 European countries have proclaimed themselves free of them.

They pointed out that numerous states in India, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat, have opted not to allow field testing of GM crops. They asked the government to prohibit cotton and maize field experiments.

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