Maharashtra Waits For Centre's Word To Bar Glyphosate
NAGPUR: After questions were raised in a meeting chaired by union agriculture secretary over the rationale in issuing licences for sale of glyphosate-based herbicides in non-tea growing states, Maharashtra government is waiting for directives from Centre on barring its sale. The chemical is linked with sale of illegal herbicide tolerant (HT) seeds. The meeting, which was attended by senior officials of state's agriculture department, was held a fortnight ago.
US biotech giant Monsanto is one of the major manufacturers of glyphosate which is recommended for tea plantations. In Maharashtra, glyphosate-based herbicides are largely used in cotton fields. The state too has the powers to stop issuing the licences, which have not been exercised yet even as cotton sowing has already begun in different pockets.
Glyphosate is considered to be the root cause for spread of illegal herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton seeds in the state. A special investigation team (SIT) was formed last week to probe infiltration of the illegal seeds.
Ht seeds are genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides which are sprayed to kill the weeds on the farm.
Both glyphosate and HT seeds are complimentary. The latter is also linked with last years's pesticide inhalation deaths. Farmers prefer HT seeds as it saves the cost of employing labour to remove weeds. There are doubts that the HT seeds may not have the Bt gene which provides protection against bollworm pest. There was a major bollworm attack last year leading to increased spraying. Over 60 persons mainly farm workers died due to accidental inhalation of pesticides.
Andhra Pradesh government barred sale of glyphosate-based herbicides during cotton season last year itself.
The state's principal secretary (agriculture) Bijoi Kumar told TOI that glyphosate is registered for use in tea plantations. He agreed the state government also has powers to stop issuing licence. "However, once the licence is issued it becomes a case of cancellation. The commissioner (agriculture) has to take a decision," he said.
In a reaction to the development, Monsanto said, "In India, glyphosate herbicides are recommended for use in general weed control in non-cropped areas, tea and pre-plant (rice) and should only be used as per the recommended guidelines. We welcome any decision by the state governments that advocate for judicious usage of herbicides,” read the statement.
Source - timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/state-waits-for-centres-word-to-bar-glyphosate/articleshow/64770585