Lalit Bahal, farmer and activist of the Sanghatana, in a small ceremony at Kovad village of taluka Tehnara in Akola district distributed the seeds of GM brinjal among 25-30 farmers.
Maharashtra farmers’ body Shetkari Sanghatana on Friday announced that it had begun an agitation so that farmers could sow genetically modified (GM) seeds in various parts of Maharashtra. The Sanghatana has also announced that it has distributed seeds of GM brinjal among farmers in Akola. Lalit Bahal, farmer and activist of the Sanghatana, in a small ceremony at Kovad village of taluka Tehnara in Akola district distributed the seeds of GM brinjal among 25-30 farmers.
Sanghatana chief Anil Ghanwat said more such seeds will be given out to ones who will openly defy the law and plant the banned varieties of HTBt cotton, maize, soyabean and brinjal in their fields. Farmers shall conduct trials if the government is not willing to do it, he said.
Lalit Bahale had kicked off an agitation in June last year by planting the non-approved HTBt cotton seeds on his farm in Akola district.
Ghanwat said farmers had begun sowing operations of the non-approved HTBt cotton seeds in Vidarbha, Marathwada, Western Maharashtra and North Maharashtra from Friday. He said the Sanghatana has also joined hands with farmers in other states to plant non-approved GM crops of cotton, maize, soyabean and brinjal.
The agitation would be held across Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, he said. Farmers who plant such variants will put up boards on their fields proclaiming the GM nature of their crop. Ghanwat said this action would draw attention to the need for introduction of the latest technology.
“This kharif, around 15 lakh hectare in Maharashtra will come under HTBt cotton. Last year, farmers had planted 13 lakh hectare of HTBt cotton and their crops reported good results.” GM crop seeds are produced and are openly available across the counter at seed shops in Gujarat and Telangana and no action is taken by the Centre, Ghanwat alleged.
He also alleged that the Fadnavis government had stopped the testing of GM crops in agricultural universities in Maharashtra and demanded that the present Thackeray government rescind the Fadnavis government’s order and start trials. Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of five years and a penalty of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act, 1989.