Despite agriculture minister Prabhu Lal Saini is raising voice against genetically modified (GM) mustard, agriculture department has extended permission once again for the sale of Bt cotton seed in the state for coming Kharif Season-2018.
Commissionerate of agriculture had issued an approval notification on April 3. Through this notification, 31 seeds companies have been given permission for sale of Bt cotton hybrids. The permission is given in the pursuance of the recommendation given by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), Union ministry of Environment, Ministry of Science and Department of Biotechnology.
It is worth mentioning that Prabhu Lal Saini, on the sidelines of the global agritechnology meeting (GRAM) , had said that the mere touch of Bt cotton caused impotency. He, that time, mentioned that the Bt gene was extracted from a soil bacterium found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after atomic bombs were dropped on the two cities during the Second World War.
But despite all concerns, agriculture department estimates that 22-25 lakh packets (a packets contain 450 grams) of Bt cotton seeds will be required in the state for the target sown area, for which around 30 lakh packets of Bt cotton seeds have been procured. As per department data, in last Kharif season total cotton sown area was 5.5 lakh hectare and department has set the same area to be sown as target for this season also.
“Farmers prefer Bt cotton hybrid to non Bt cotton as it produce 30% more yield. Not only the production is higher but the quality of fiber in Bt cotton is much better,” Ramgopal Sharma, Joint Director at agriculture department said. “Farmers are taking around 25-30 quintal per hectare yield which is 20-22 quintal per hectare in case on non Bt cotton. Department issues permission for the sale of Bt cotton with the condition that farmers should be given training by the companies,” he added.
What is Bt Cotton?
Bt cotton is genetically modified hybrid of cotton to be toxic to a pest called bollworms. It has been extensively grown in India since 2002 and in Rajasthan, on the contrary to agriculture minister’s concerns, Bt cotton is being sown in cotton-growing areas of the state since 2010. Today it is being sown in 80% of total cotton growing area in the state and in the district like Hanumangarh and Shriganganagar it is being sown in more than 95% cotton growing area.
What Saini earlier said
Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini, during the global agritechnology meeting (GRAM) at Udaipur in November 2017, had said that the mere touch of Bt cotton caused impotency. He, that time, mentioned that the Bt gene was extracted from a soil bacterium found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after atomic bombs were dropped on the two cities during the World War II.
GM seeds and technologies have remained controversial in India and other countries. Bt cotton is included in genetically modified crops and it is the only GM crop for which commercial cultivation is permitted by GEAC. Environmentalist and scientist claims that Bt cotton leaves detrimental effects on Bt cotton users including human and animals or other crops located in the vicinity of Bt cotton farmers. The state of Maharashtra banned the sale and distribution of Bt cotton in 2012, but lifted the ban in 2013.