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Maharashtra govt suspends 17 firms' sale of Bt cotton seed

As samples of non-Bt hybrids, taken in May-July of 2016, have shown the presence of Bt seed

Rajesh Bhayani  |  Mumbai 

Bt Cotton

The last week suspended the licences of 17 companies for sale of genetically modified (Bt) cotton seed, because samples of refugia or non-Bt hybrids, taken in May-July of 2016, have apparently shown the presence of Bt seed.

The companies meet at least 70 per cent of the requirement in the state. The total sale of such seeds in the state is estimated at 10 million packets a year of 450g each, amounting to Rs 800 crore.  The order was issued by the Director of Agriculture (I & QC), commissionerate of agriculture, Pune.

All the seed companies have contested the report, from the Government Seed Testing Laboratory, and have asked that the samples go to the Referral Laboratory as notified under the Act in question.  

Which would be the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Nagpur.

They say the government ignored their earlier submissions on this and then waited for nine months, till the time when both Bt and non-Bt seeds had been kept ready for dispatch to the market for this year’s kharif sale. “Merely on the bases of the report of a laboratory, whose testing was questioned nine months ago said,” said Kalyan Goswami, executive director, National Seed Association of India.

Adding: “Now that the said lots have crossed the validity period of nine months, the seed companies are deprived of their right to get the referee sample tested as per law.” The Association has also cited other arguments it had made last year.

As the Bt seed business takes place over only six-odd weeks, the Association has asked for urgent central intervention. So many companies, they argue, cannot all be held to be packing bad quality refugia.