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India: Seed makers want government to soften stand on illegal HT cottonqrcode

Jul. 2, 2019

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Jul. 2, 2019
As farmers' body Shetkari Sangathana continues with its movement of openly planting unapproved herbicide tolerant (HT)  cotton seeds, there has been a mixed reaction from the two main seed producers' associations in the country - National Seeds Association of India (NSAI) and the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSSI). 

Mahyco, the company which applied for commercial sale of HT seeds, withdrew the dossier in 2016 even as trials were on. The company was to use technology developed by US biotech giant Monsanto. It was mainly due to concerns over commercial issues like the pricing and protection of intellectual property rights. 

Shetkari Sangathana has been insisting that the government allows use of genetically modified (GM) seeds like HT cotton, Bt brinjal and Bt mustard. 

Ram Kaundinya, the director general of FSSI, said the government must consider the demand of the Sanghatana, review its policy and bring about a more conducive commercial environment for technology providers. "The association does not support any violation of law. However, it is also clear that HT seeds have been widely accepted by farmers. According to government's own estimates, close to 40 lakh bags of the seeds have been sold," he said. 

The FSSI chief said the authorities should target the bigger syndicates that are growing the seeds illegally instead of catching hold of the small farmers who are planting it. 

RK Trivedi, the executive director NSAI, questioned how the seeds got leaked even as the trials were not completed. "It should have been the responsibility of the company that had initiated the trials to safeguard the material. It was only because the material leaked that the seeds are now being grown illegally in various parts of the country," he said. 

The Mahyco spokesperson refused to comment on the issue. On HT seeds, the Shetkari Sangathana too has been maintaining that the government should create a suitable environment for technology providers to operate in Indian markets. "There are chances that if the regulations are eased, companies may once again plan to introduce the seeds," said a Shetkari Sangathana activist. 

The GM varieties of brinjal and mustard have got the approvals from the genetical engineering approval committee (GEAC) under the ministry of environment. Now, the final approval from government is awaited for the two. 
Source: timesofindia

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