At least 12 farmers have been booked in Maharashtra for planting banned genetically modified (GM) cotton and brinjal seeds. Undeterred by this, farmers have been protesting the blockade of new technologies that could aid farming. This movement has elicited mixed responses from farmer groups — some support the idea; others oppose the introduction of GM technologies in Indian agriculture.
The anti-GMO argument rests on three pillars: first, that GMOs are controlled by large companies and are essentially anti-farmer; second, they are harmful to biological diversity and third, they are harmful to human health. They also argue that the Maharashtra farmers have been paid by large companies to pressure the government into accepting the technology.
On the other hand, pro-GMO groups such as the Shetkari Sanghtana backing the Maharashtra protest argue that farmers need to adopt more GMOs to get better yields and more income. This is by no means a new argument. In 2001, farmers were accused of illegally planting GM cotton, much prior to India permitting the commercialisation of Monsanto’s Bt cotton. So, as these two groups tussle it out, who will blink first? Read more