Dr. G. V. Ramanjaneyulu
The Commissioner Agriculture 8th November, 2013
Department of Agriculture
Government of Andhra Pradesh
Sub: Illegal sales of Herbicide Tolerant Cotton in Srikakulam Dist –reg
Greetings from Centre for Sustainable Agriculture!
CSA is actively working across the state in promoting sustainable agriculture.
During one of our field visits to srikakulam district, we came across cultivation of herbicide tolerant cotton in tribal belts of seethampet mandal of srikakulam dist. Seeds were sold by a person named Nagireddy from Guntur and the brand name of the seed is KALPAVRIKSHA. The cover has no address and name of the supplier (empty packet attached).
In and around Kotturu, near about 200 + acres is under this cotton. In Kotturu itself, one farmer by name Siridi Bhaskar Rao who has 50+ acres under this variety this year. Other villages include Bukkuduguda, Puliputti village 4 farmers growing 9 acres, Dantalaguda village 6 farmers 14 acres, Vempaliguda village 6 farmers 14 acres, Mukundapuram village 2 farmers 7 acres and Rekulaguda village 2 farmers 7 acres. The strip tests we have done confirmed that the cotton hybrid grown here is resistant to glyphosate.
We had video recorded interviews with the farmers (DVD attached). The samples are tested positive for Glyphosate resistant event (Roundup Ready) developed by Monsanto.
This event is not yet approved by GEAC for commercial cultivation and biosafety tests are not completed.
There are serious health concerns with the herbicide tolerant cotton and the glyphosate which is used. The spread of such unapproved, untested and highly dangerous seeds to farmers in the tribal farmers has to be immediately curbed and action has to be initiated on the concerned officials who failed in regulation and the company which is responsible for the spread.
This is not first time such illegal cultivation of herbicide tolerant crops is noticed. In 2008, the then Commissioner Agriculture of Government of Andhra Pradesh made a complaint to GEAC that around 20,000 acres of Herbicide tolerant cotton is under cultivation. GEAC has discussed this issue in 98th meeting in December 2009, Agenda Item 6.4 was on complaints about sale of illegal HT cotton seed. It was clearly acknowledged that illegal HT cotton, tested in laboratories with the samples testing positive for the HT trait (MON1445 event), was being supplied and grown in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh government reported suspension of seed license to one company and destruction of HT cotton crop and that more reports are awaited from some more districts, the decision was to “direct state governments to initiate punitive action against erring companies, and that follow up with respective state governments to curb the illegal cultivation of HT cotton should continue on a regular basis”. However, the presence of HT cotton in Srikakulam district showcases once again the incapable and apathetic regulatory system that refuses to take any effective action.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on GM crops and the Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court both recommended that the Herbicide Tolerant crops are not suitable for the country and also that the field trials should be stopped for atleast ten years till the regulations are improved.
The source of such illegal seeds seems to be the company which have developed them. The company has to take responsibility as they were only given permission for laboratory research and confined field trials. Escape of any form from these should be primarily be the responsibility of the company.
On 29th October, during a meeting at the commissioner office, we brought up this issue with you and showed the video of interviews with farmers and when we visited the field again on 3rd November, we found that no action has been initiated and even the concerned officials have not even visited the field.
In this context we request you to kindly
- Investigate to assess the extent of illegal, unapproved HT cotton cultivation in this area and all of Andhra Pradesh
- Fix liability on the offenders who are responsible for such spread as per the EPA rules, 1986. The state Governments should also fix liability under seed laws for unlicensed seed trade. Government of India should fix responsibility on regulators for failing to curb this illegal proliferation of unapproved GMOs.
- Write to GEAC to action on the company which is responsible for the leakage of the material from their research labs and confined field trials
We also bring to your kind notice that such illegal cultivation of several GM crops is happening across the state. The companies which are permitted field trials are not taking responsibility when the trials are contaminating the neighboring crops or seeds escape and find their way into commercial market illegally.
Therefore we request the AP state government to kindly stop all permissions for the GM field trials without Biosafety approvals.
Looking forward for your immediate action
Seed packets without any details
Strip test confirming presence of Roundup Ready event