Farmers are cultivating herbicide-tolerant Bt (HTBt) cotton and Bt brinjal notwithstanding with Union Government’s ban on genetically modified (GM) crops and soon farmers will start field trials on other GM crops including maize, soya and papaya, said Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana (SS).

Ghanwat is one of the members of the Supreme Court-appointed committee to study the three new agricultural laws introduced by the central government. The panel subitted its report on March 19 to the apex court.

“Even if the government continues a ban on GM technology, nobody can stop its spread,” Ghanwat said in a press statement adding that farmers across India will adopt GM technology.

Ghanwat’s statement comes after the central government recently announced in the Rajya Sabha that proposals for field trials of GM crops, including Bt brinjal, will not be taken up for consideration in the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) without the recommendation of the concerned State/UT government.

Criticising the government’s decision, Ghanwat said that it was acting under the pressure of some organisations. “If GM technology is harmful, the same technology is used in various medicines. Why the government is not banning these medicines?,” asked Ghanwat.

According to the Ministry of Environment, various farmers bodies including Bhartiya Kisan Sangh have written to concerned States not to give ‘No Objection Certificate’ for bio-safety field trials of Bt Brinjal.

Since 2019, SS, a dominant farmers’ organisation in Maharashtra, continues its drive in support of GM crops in Maharashtra. The organisation has openly defied the ban on GM crops and has encouraged farmers to use GM technology. SS leaders claim that HTBt cotton seeds are already easily available to farmers.