Andhra Pradesh will inspect fields planted with an unapproved variety of genetically modified seeds developed by Monsanto. Farmers have already planted 15 per cent of the cotton area in the state with Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex (RRF).
Bollgard II RRF is a proprietary technology owned by Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed maker. Bollgard II RRF is known for its herbicide-tolerant properties. Monsanto last year withdrew its application seeking approval from the regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, for this variety. When the US company withdrew the application last year, it was in the final stages of a lengthy process that included years of field trials.
There’s a fear that some seed companies, while suppressing their real intent of profiteering, are attempting to illegally incorporate unauthorised and unapproved herbicide-tolerant technologies into their seeds. The illegal sale of seeds violates India’s environmental protection rules. It’s estimated that 3.5 million packets of such seeds were sold this season. Gross misuse of patented and regulated technologies may pose numerous challenges to India's cotton ecosystem.
New Delhi approved the first GM cotton seed trait in 2003 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform India into the world’s top producer and second-largest exporter of the fiber.