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Tuesday 21 January 2020

FIRs against farmers for illegally sowing HTBt Cotton

the FIRs have been lodged for violation of various provisions of Seeds Act, Indian Penal Code, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Act, Custom Acts of 1962 and the Patent Act, 1970

New Delhi: In a classic case of enforcing an erroneous law zealously, the Maharashtra government has lodged police complaints or FIRs (first information reports) against 12 farmers for growing Herbicide Tolerant Bt (HTBt) cotton illegally, of them in Akola district of the state.

Sources said the FIRs have been lodged for violation of various provisions of Seeds Act, Indian Penal Code, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Act, Custom Acts of 1962 and the Patent Act, 1970.

The move came after several farmers under the banner of Shetkari Sangathana organised multiple sowing of HTBt as a mark of protest against what they said was an illegal denial of technology to farmers.

Under the Environment Protection Act 1986, growing GM crops that have not been approved by the government is illegal and can lead to a jail term of five years or a hefty fine of Rs 1 lakh. HT Bt is the third generation of BT cotton in India.

The first two generations used Cry 1 Ab and Cry 1 Ac and were instrumental in controlling pink bollworm attack in cotton plants.

Prior to this, two major programmes were held on 24 June. One was at Adjoin Budruk village, Telhara taluka, Akola district; the other at Sita Mata Mandir in Raveri village, Ralegaon taluka, in Yavatmal district. Other than sowing the new-generation cotton seeds and expressing their support for GMO breeds like Bt brinjal and GM mustard, two new decisions were announced at today’s events.

A select few progressive farmers had plans to set up a demonstration in field trials to test the efficacy and economic viability of HTBt cotton. Secondly, farmers in Maharashtra and their friends will contribute whatever they can in support of Jeevan Saini, the farmer in Fatehabad district in Haryana, whose brinjal crop was uprooted, buried and burned by the local administration in May, on reports of it being unauthorised GM brinjal.

Every day, over the past two weeks, ordinary farmers, and leaders of farmers’ organisation, Shetkari Sanghatana, from different parts of Maharashtra are coming forward to plant new generation HTBt cotton varieties in their fields. So far, farmers from 10 districts, Ahmednagar, Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Dhule, Jalna, Jalgaon, Parbhani, Wardha, Yavatmal, have joined hands to plead for access to the new generation of GM technology in cotton, as well as brinjal, soya, maize, and others crops.

A similar programme was held at Shegaon (Kund), in Hinganghat taluka, Wardha district on 20 June. A few days earlier, Madhusudan Harne and other organisers had submitted a letter to the newly elected MP, Shri Ramdas Tadas. The Hon. MP raised the issue of difficulty faced by farmers in view of the lack of clear laws and policies governing genetically modiÞed crops, during the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha on 21 June.

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