Agro minister Radha Mohan Singh picks a fight with GM giant MMBL
New Delhi, Dec 26: A regulatory battle is brewing in India’s cotton sector, with agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh hardening his stand on what he says are “exploitative” seed prices and taking an unprecedented step to control them from the next season.
Singh’s ministry has passed orders for a price cap on cotton seeds from March in the world’s second largest exporter of the fibre — the first time such a control is being clamped by the Centre on the seed business that is worth Rs 5,000 crore.
“Cotton farmers are going through distress. Just look at cotton seed prices. Why should they vary so widely from state to state? This is exploitation of our farmers,” Singh told HT.
The move, in large part, is aimed at Bt cotton, the only genetically modified crop India has allowed so far. A vast majority of seven million growers prefers Bt cotton, hailed as a yield and income booster.
The country’s output jumped fourfold since genetically modified cotton was introduced in 2002, making India one of the largest growers. Almost 98% of the cotton is of the GM variety.