HYDERABAD: Agriculture secretary C Parthasarathi has written a letter to all the district collectors to send district-wise reports on the HT cotton-growing areas in their respective districts. Monsanto, a USA-based multinational seed manufacturer, developed a herbicide-tolerant trait (BG-III) and intends to commercialise it across the country.This Roundup Ready Cotton (RR Cotton) is genetically-engineered cotton wherein its DNA is altered to withstand the herbicide Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup Ready Flex).
It is sometimes referred to as “Glyphosate tolerant” cotton. Monsanto had applied for permission through its business partner, Mahyco, to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for commercial release of Round-up Ready Flex (BG-III) but its application was withdrawn in 2015.
“But, intentionally or unintentionally, the unapproved RRF trait got released into the field/environment by the unknown entities/agencies and now it is expected to be found in the cotton crop raised by farmers in a considerable area and also it is spreading rapidly and contaminating the other cotton hybrids, causing threat to the biological resources,’’ the agriculture secretary said in his letter. Besides, the RR Cotton is causing health hazards with usage of Glyphosate in cotton fields.
HT cotton trait is spreading fast in cotton-growing states without any licence or approval being granted by authorities such as GEAC or ICAR, the secretary informed the district collectors.
“It is to inform you that the BT Cotton area adoption has been increasing year after year in Telangana State, especially the high adoption (19 lakh hectares) has been recorded in 2017-18. The agriculture department has been monitoring the illegal seed supplies and spurious seeds of cotton including unapproved GM traits of Herbicide Tolerance (HT) and Insect Tolerance (IT).”
It was revealed that there were very few cases identified with unapproved BT cotton trait in the state too, he said. “There is an urgent need to prepare procedures and guidelines similar to BG II (approved by GEAC and existing BT Cotton) for determination of BG III by the central government. The state agriculture department also wrote a letter to the chairperson of National Biodiversity Authority and joint secretary (seeds) in the ministry of agriculture and cooperation to take appropriate action to curb the illegal BT cotton seed.