Tribune News Service
Mumbai, June 9
Shetkari Sanghatana — a farmers’ organisation from Maharashtra — has announced that it would hold a satyagraha tomorrow by planting banned varieties of genetically-modified (GM) cotton and brinjals.
Calling it a farmers’ satyagraha, Anil Ghanwat, president, Shetkari Sanghatana, said 5,000 farmers will break the law banning GM crops by planting these varieties at Akoli Jahangir village in Maharashtra’s Akola district. He condemned the action by the Haryana government on farmers for cultivating genetically-modified brinjal.
“The farmers who are members of Shetkari Sanghatana will plant herbicide-tolerant BT cotton and BT brinjal seeds in a one-acre plot at the Akoli Jahangir village,” Ghanwat said.
Under the law, anyone possessing or sowing banned seeds of genetically-modified crops can be fined Rs 1 lakh and sent to jail for five years.
However, Shetkari Sanghatana activists say they are willing to risk jail for planting the crops, which, they say, promise them better yields and remunerative prices. “If we are arrested, we will go to jail peacefully. It’s a satyagraha, so we won’t resort to violence,” Ghanwat said.
Over the past year, the Sanghatana has been mobilising farmers via social media for the right to cultivate GM crops in India. The satyagraha comes after a crackdown by the Haryana government on farmers who cultivated GM brinjals.
According to the Sanghatana, the Union government had first cleared cultivation of BT Brinjal in 2009 but the move was reversed by then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. The Sanghatana alleges that Narendra Modi government which took charge in 2014 did not overturn the ban despite petitions filed by it.
The Sanghatana said its members have procured the GM seeds despite it being illegal. Ghanwat says the banned varieties of seeds are already being planted by farmers across the country.
“After Akola, we will soon take the satyagraha to other parts of Maharashtra during the current monsoon season,” Ghanwat added.
Will plant banned varieties
- 5,000 farmers will break the law banning GM crops by planting these varieties at Akoli Jahangir village in Akola district
- Under the law, anyone possessing or sowing banned seeds of GM crops can be fined Rs 1 lakh and sent to jail for five years
- Over the past year, the Sanghatana has been mobilising farmers via social media for the right to cultivate GM crops
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