08:58 GMT30 July 2021
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    Bollgard's Grey Market Haunts Monsanto India as Farmers Demand Compensation

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    Cotton farmers in southern India want Monsanto to compensate for the crop losses they incurred by using the American agri-tech company’s Bollgard-II technology that failed to contain pink bollworms and the Herbicide Tolerant (HT) variant of cotton seeds that are available on the grey market.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Telangana Rythu Sangham, a farmers association in the state of Telangana, demanded governmental action alleging illegal proliferation of Bollgard-II and Bt3 (HT) that did not enjoy the approval of the country's GM food regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).

    "Seeds with third generation Bt technology are marketed in the State. This technology has no clearance from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC)," P Janga Reddy, President, Telangana Rythu Sangham said.

    Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt. Ltd (MMBL) that had withdrawn its application in 2015  for clearance before GEAC for the commercial release of the herbicide-tolerant trait (BG-III) also known as Roundup Ready Flex (RRF), claimed it was the "illegal sellers of these unapproved technologies" that caused the proliferation.

     "It is a matter of grave concern that some seed companies while suppressing their real intent of profiteering, are attempting to illegally incorporate unauthorized and unapproved herbicide-tolerant technologies into their seeds," a Monsanto spokesperson told the BusinessLine.

    Earlier this month, Telangana's Agriculture Secretary C Parthasarathi had sounded alarm over Monsanto's hazardous illegal Bt cotton trait.

    "Intentionally or unintentionally, the unapproved RRF trait got released into the field/environment by the unknown entities/agencies and now it is expected to be found in the cotton crop raised by farmers in a considerable area and also it is spreading rapidly and contaminating the other cotton hybrids, causing a threat to the biological resources,'' C Parthasarathi warned the farmers and administration in his letter.

    Right now, the only GM cotton permitted to be grown in India are the hybrids/varieties that contain ‘cry1Ac' and ‘cry2Ab' genes. But a lab test of varied samples by the Telangana government's Transgenic Crops Monitoring Laboratory confirmed the presence of the ‘cp4-epsps gene confirming there exists today a grey market for cotton seeds incorporating both Bt (bollworm insect-resistance) and herbicide tolerant (HT) traits, despite the latter being an unapproved technology in India.


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