State officials brief Centre on herbicide-tolerant variety
Telangana government has requested the Centre to formulate protocols and guidelines at the earliest to take steps to check the spread of herbicide tolerant variety cotton seed, popularly known as BG-III, which is not cleared by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), and is harming the biodiversity in the country.
A detailed presentation was made on the unauthorised spread of the unapproved cotton variety by Director of Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority K. Keshavulu here on Friday before the visiting team of Field-level Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC) appointed by the Centre on the issue of BG-III.
He also explained the initiatives taken by the State government in bringing the issue to the Centre’s notice constantly. The high-level team comprising officials from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University visited Jogulamba-Gadwal and Vikarabad districts on Thursday and Mancherial district on Friday before meeting the stakeholders, including seed growers, dealers, national and State seed associations at a meeting here.
During their field visit, the team interacted with cotton farmers, examined the standing crop, visited ginning mills and seed purification plants and collected seed samples. Leader of the visiting team, chief scientific officer in DBT, V.S. Reddy, complimented the efforts of Telangana government in highlighting the issue at national-level. The team arrived in Telangana after studying the issue in Gujarat and would be in Andhra Pradesh for the next two days.
Agriculture Production Commissioner C. Parthasarathi said all the stakeholders are in total confusion on the issue of BG-III in the absence of any guidelines from the Centre since the seed was unapproved. He explained that the State government had already collected the seed samples of the unapproved cotton variety which have the potential of polluting biodiversity. Representatives of seed associations and growers demanded that the variety be controlled completely and expressed dismay over the silence on sale of BG-III variety cotton seed for the last few seasons. Seed dealers told the visiting team that they are living in fear due to mistakes committed by some growers and wanted stern action against them. They urged the team to formulate protocols and train dealers and growers. Leader of the Central team, Mr. Reddy, stated that the notification on private hybrid varieties of cotton had become a hurdle in certifying the seed after finding genes of herbicide tolerance.