Akola: In a first in Maharashtra, at least 12 farmers from Akola district have been booked for allegedly sowing banned herbicide-tolerant Bt (HTBT) cotton seeds, police said Wednesday.
The farmers had allegedly planted the seeds in their farms in Adgaon and Akoli Jahangir villages as part of a protest organised by Shetkari Sanghatna against the Union government’s ban on the use of genetically modified Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) cotton and brinjal seeds.
On June 10, several hundred farmers had sowed the GM cotton and brinjal seeds in the east Maharashtra district.
The Sanghatana has been opposing the ban on GM crops claiming that they gave higher yields at lower costs and brought benefits to cultivators.
Two FIRs were registered at Hiwarkhed and Akot police stations on the complaints lodged by the Agriculture department, a Hiwarkhed police station officer said Wednesday.
Among those booked by police included Sanghatna spokesperson Lalit Bahale.
“The farmers have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Environment Protection Act and the Seeds Act,” said Hiwarkhed police station inspector Somnath Pawar.
The use of GM crops in the country is tightly regulated as per “Rules for the Manufacture/Use/Import/Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells, 1989” under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
As per the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the evaluation of each application of GM crop is done on a case-to-case basis after a thorough examination of health, environment, food and feed safety assessment studies.