Sale of illegal HTBt cotton seeds doubles


In News:

Industry lobbies have written to the Agriculture Ministry, demanding that action be taken to prevent the sale of illegal seed packets.

What happened before?

  • This comes while activists from the Shetkari Sangathan have stepped up the reach of their civil disobedience movement to demand the legalisation of HTBt cotton by encouraging farmers to plant the seeds in violation of state regulations.
BT Cotton: These two issues could put the brakes on the Bt cotton story -  The Economic Times

key points:

  • The illegal cultivation of herbicide-tolerant (HT) Bt cotton has seen a large jump in 2021.
  • The seed manufacturers claim that the sale of illegal seed packets has quite doubled from 30 lakh in 2020 to 75 lakh in 2021.
  • The cultivation of the genetically modified cotton variant has serious environmental and economic consequences.
  • To make matters worse, the illegal seeds are sold using the brand name of prominent companies.

what are the Impact of such sale:

  • Farmers are in danger with such illegal cotton seed sale as:  
  • There is no accountability of the standard of seed,  
  • It pollutes the environment,  
  • The industry is losing legitimate seed sale and  
  • The government also loses revenue in terms of collection .
  • It will not only decimate small cotton seed companies but also threatens the whole legal cotton seed market in India.


  • This illegal activity of HT seed sales is carried mostly by unorganised and fly by night operators.
  • HTBt seeds are often produced in Gujarat then moved to Maharashtra for illegal sale.

Way Forward:

  • Regulators are only limiting their checking to licensed dealers and seed companies.
  • The focus must be shifted to catching them and taking exemplary and powerful punitive action.
  • The Centre has got to make a policy to ban this variant and therefore the State governments that must take action.
  • Formulate central advisories to all or any cotton-growing States, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Telangana to seize HTBt stock and take punitive action against the culprits.

About Bt Cotton:

  • Bt cotton is that the only transgenic crop that has been approved by the Centre for commercial cultivation in India.
  • So far, only GM Mustard and Bt Brinjal are recommended by the genetic engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and global climate change , Government of India for consideration for its environmental release and cultivation.
  • It has been genetically modified to supply an insecticide to combat the cotton bollworm, a typical pest.
  • The HTBt cotton variant adds another layer of modification, making the plant immune to the herbicide glyphosate.
  • It has not been approved by regulators yet.
  • Fears include glyphosate having a carcinogenic effect, also as the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance to nearby plants through pollination, creating a spread of superweeds.


Cotton crops in India:

  • Cotton is a crucial fibre crop of India. it's one among the foremost important industrial crops in India.
  • The highest concentration of the crop is within the areas with precipitation between 50 to 80 cm and a temperature between 20 to 35°C.
  • Cotton are often grown in drier areas, too, with the assistance of irrigation.
  • The deep and medium black soils of the Deccan and Malwa Plateau are considered ideal though they will be grown on alluvial and red soils also .
  • The clear sky during the picking season is suitable for cotton crops.
  • The largest producers of Cotton are Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh , MP, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, TN and Karnataka.
  • India has the excellence of developing the primary high breed of cotton in the world.
  • Presently, India is also one among the leading producers of Bt cotton in the world.


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