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Illegal Cultivation of Bt Cotton in Gujarat


  1. The unauthorised cultivation of Bt cotton in Gujarat is bad for the future of GM crops in the country on at least three counts:

    • it will encourage similar misadventure in other parts of the country;
    • it gives a new whip for the NGOs to ridicule the regulatory measures and GM crops; and
    • it will further delay the introduction of GM crops into India by generating fresh controversies. 
  1. Mahyco has spent a lot of time and money fulfilling the governmental regulations and has been patiently waiting for permission for the release of Bt cotton for growing in the country.   The Bt patent holder Monsanto and  the licensee Mahyco have an immense lot to lose if they get involved in illegal trade of the yet unauthorised seed.   Monsanto and Mahyco should follow the Canadian example and start punitive legal proceedings to  sue Navabharat Seeds Ltd., and the farmers involved,  in order to discourage repeats of such unauthorised sale of GM  crop seed and also to clear their own name.   The Government of India and the Government of the State of Gujarat (of other States, if victims of similar mischief), should join in taking such legal measures as necessary, to prevent repetition of similar incidents, which are a clear violation of the environmental protection laws of the country.
  1. An enquiry should be instituted to find answers to the following questions:  a) How did the unauthorised reach Gujarat?   b) How many farmers and in how many other states (for example, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra) are involved in similar Bt seed transactions?   c)  How did Navabharat Seeds Ltd., procure the seed of Bt cotton and multiply it to be able to supply such a huge quantity of nearly 6,000 kg of seed?   d)  What is the role of Dr D B Desai, supposedly a former employee of Mahyco?

  2. Suitable action should be taken against the farmers too, since they cannot

  3. wriggle out on grounds of ignorance of the illegality of the seed transaction. 
    Certainly many farmers are ignorant of legal provisions in these matters but
    possibly not those who know of Bt cotton and those who can pay for the
    expensive Bt seed.

  4. The mischievous talk that this unauthorised Bt crop contains the terminator gene should immediately be dispelled.

  5. It does not sound right if two departments of the Government of India speak differently and it is certainly not nice to find the Department of Biotechnology  trying to wash off their hands by saying that there is absolutely no problem from their side, meaning that the villain of the piece is the Ministry of Forests and Environment.

  6. In the final analysis, the Government of India have dragged the issue far too long and should in future decide these issues with far greater alacrity than in the past, so that no one claims desperateness as the cause for adventurism.
  7. If the farmers have to be paid compensation, liability rests with the Navabharat Seeds Ltd., who in all probability did not warn the farmers of the implications, and not with the Governments.    If compensation claims on Governments are acceded, that only will set a dangerous precedent.   On extension of a similar logic, some one caught with a pirated version of a software package or a newly released feature film, should be paid compensation by the Governments, when the CD is ceased and the purchaser fined.

Prof. C Kameswara  Rao
No 1, Gupta’s Layout
Southend Road
Bangalore 560 004
Ph: 6549470; e-mail krao@vsnl.co