CBI to probe pesticide poisoning deaths of 48 farmers in Maharashtra

The Maharashtra government has sought Central Bureau Investigation probe into the presence of banned herbicide tolerant gene in five varieties of BT cotton seeds.

Published: 02nd November 2017 07:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd November 2017 09:47 AM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only. (File photo | Reuters)

By Express News Service

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has sought Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) probe into the presence of banned herbicide tolerant gene in five varieties of BT cotton seeds, a statement from the chief minister's office has said.
 
"After the tragic incident of pesticide poisoning in Yavatmal district, a detailed study was done by Nagpur based Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) and the report is submitted to the state government. As mentioned in this report, Herbicide-tolerant genes are found in the BT Cotton seeds of five branded companies and it is not permissible under the provisions of Environment Protection Act 1986," a statement issued by the chief minister’s office here on Thursday said.
 
CICR's six teams comprising 24 scientists, including the acting director of the institute V N Waghmar, had visited most parts of Yavatmal district for the study. The report was submitted to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the special investigation team (SIT) that is probing the farmers' deaths due to insecticide in Yavatmal district on Wednesday.
 
"FIR has been registered against those five companies in Nagpur," said the CMO statement.
 
"It is also found that such type of seeds is being produced in many other states also. Hence, the government of Maharashtra has sent a request to Government of India for a detailed CBI inquiry into this," the statement added.
 
Anti-genetic engineering activist Vandana Shiva, upon visiting Yavatmal a few days back, had blamed international seed maker companies for the pesticide deaths arguing that the market for the HT variety is shrinking in Brazil, US and Europe and India is being eyed as a market to compensate.
 
She had also alleged that the herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton variety seen in the fields is being pushed into the market by these companies as it is in their interest that the seed spreads through illegal channels paving the way for them to eventually bring it legally into the Indian market.
 
At least 48 farmers had lost lives in Yavatmal district after spraying mixture of multiple pesticides to control pests on the Cotton crop. At least 800 farmers had to be hospitalised for various ailments including temporary loss of vision.

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