Kisan Satyagraha demanding access to GM technology

Lalit Patil Bahale, a farmers’ leader in Akola district of Maharashtra, has decided to publicly plant the unauthorised herbicide tolerant Roundup Ready Bt cotton, as well as Bt brinjal, on June 10, at Akot.

The Shetkari Sanghatana would like to invite farmers and friends to join them in Akot (about 50 km, north of Akola), to participate in the proceedings, from 9 am to 4 pm. On this occasion, there would also be a discussion on the benefits of GM technology for farmers in India. The programme schedule is below.

As you may know, recently there has been a controversy in Haryana over alleged GM brinjal, although there is little clarity on whether it is indeed Bt brinjal. Bangladesh approved Bt Brinjal in 2013. But the Indian government had overruled the recommendation of GEAC in 2009, and imposed a moratorium on Bt Brinjal in 2010, which still continues. 

Over the past few years, herbicide tolerant Bt cotton has been planted in many cotton growing areas of India, particularly in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh. A GoI field survey in 2017, had found that 15% of cotton sampled from these states were the unauthorised HT Bt variety.

It may be recalled that a similar situation had prevailed in 1999-2001, when unauthorised Bt cotton was first found in Gujarat. Widespread acceptance of GM cotton by the farmers, and effectively led by the late Sharad Joshi of Shetkari Sanghatana, the farmers had almost forced the GoI to approve the first generation Bt cotton in 2002.

This is perhaps the first Kisan Satyagraha seeking freedom from overbearing government regulations restricting access to modern technology to Indian farmers. The farmers are not demanding any privilege from the government, rather freedom from government control.  

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