With thousands of farmers sowing GM cotton, soya, BT brinjal and corn seeds, the Shetkari Sanghatana (SS) has intensified its agitation against the ban on GM crops.

SS President Anil Ghanwat said, “ The organisation is celebrating Technology Freedom Season and thousands of farmers across India have joined the movement by sowing GM seeds. The agitation has begun.”

The SS has been demanding that farmers have the freedom to choose technology and seeds so that they could compete in the world market.

“For years, we have been making this demand, but the government is not ready to lift the ban on GM crops. With no other option, the farmers have started using the civil disobedience weapon,” he said.

According to farmers, the pro-GM crop movement in Maharashtra resulted in brining 25 per cent of cotton field in the State under HTBT cultivation last year. This year, more area will be added. GM brinjal seeds are also available, said the farmers, adding that SS members will start testing these seeds.

“The law banning GM crop is made by the Central government. But agriculture is a State subject. The Devendra Fadnavis government banned GM crop tests in State agriculture universities and the Thackeray government should resume these tests,” said the SS in the statement.

The Centre had admitted last year that it had received complaints of illegal cultivation of BT brinjal in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Punjab. A Central panel had found that farmers in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra cultivated unapproved HTBT cotton. Farmers claim that HTBT cotton seeds are sold in the black market and impure and substandard seeds are sold to farmers.

Farmers can’t raise their voice against this fraud. Farmers will not be swindled if the government gives the official nod to cultivate HTBT seeds, said farmers.