Unapproved Monsanto herbicide-tolerant cotton has been illegally released into fields
The illegal spread of unapproved GM herbicide-tolerant cotton in India reflects the mode of entry of other GM crops into various countries, where GM seeds have been smuggled in, given or sold to farmers, and grown prior to government approval, thereby effectively forcing the governments to retrospectively approve the GM trait.
Crops introduced in this way include:
* GM Bt cotton in India
* GM herbicide-tolerant soy in Brazil.
Telangana to curb sale and supply of herbicide-tolerant BG-III cotton
B. Krishna Prasad
The Times of India, Dec 5, 2017
Expressing concern over widespread cultivation of unapproved genetically engineered cotton seed developed by Monsanto company by farmers in the state, the Telangana government on Monday directed all district collectors to take stringent action on sale and supply of the herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton and directed them to destroy the produce immediately.
In a letter addressed to district collectors principal secretary C Parthasarathi mentioned that unapproved herbicide tolerant trait (BG-III) developed under the commercial name of Round-up Ready Flex (RRF) has got released into the field, and is being used in the cotton crop raised by the farmers covering considerable area. "It is spreading rapidly and contaminating other cotton hybrids and causing threat to the biological resources due to usage of Glyphosate. The Glyphosate (Glycel) herbicide is reported as carcinogenic and it affects human and animal health besides influencing soil health, biodiversity and ecology," Parthasarathi said.
"Monsanto applied for permission through its business partner Mahyco to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for commercial release of Round-up Ready Flex (BG-III) in India. The Indian Mahyco seed company conducted field trials of several BT cotton hybrids containing RRF/HT trait for its commercialization through appropriate procedures. However, its application was withdrawn in the year 2015 to commercialize it in the country. But cultivation of Bt cotton crops with herbicide tolerance (HT) trait is spreading fast in cotton growing states including Telangana without any licence or approval being granted by authorities such as GEAC or ICAR." said the principal secretary.
Telangana reported cotton cultivation in 19 lakh hectares in 2017-18 and the extension staff of the agriculture department, in their field visits, have found that several farmers are growing BT cotton crop containing unapproved "herbicide tolerance trait". Alarmed over the finding, the Telangana government has constituted a committee to examine the issue related to selling of unapproved transgenic seeds of cotton carrying new GM traits with Herbicide Tolerance (HT), Insect Tolerance (IT) and also to curb the spread of Bt cotton with unapproved genetic trait (BG-III) menace in the farmers' field. And also decided to take legal opinion from the additional advocate general to take action on the issue. "The dealers who are behind the spread of these unapproved seeds will be punished under the act. Our vigilance teams will also trace out companies that distributed and produced the seeds. Action will be taken on them," Parthasarathi told TOI.
The principal secretary also reported the issue to chairperson of National Biodiversity Authority and joint secretary (Seeds) to take action on the matter stating that the deliberate or unintentional release of genetically engineered organisms, hazardous micro-organisms is an offence under Rule 9 of the EPA, 1989. In response to the complaint, Centre has constituted a committee to inspect the spread of herbicide tolerant cotton in the country.