Updated on 11 September 2012
This is apparently not the first time that large seed companies have been found gulity of not adhering to transparent marketing practices. A few years ago, riots had ensued in certain areas in Maharashtra over artificial shortages created by certain companies, leading to the distribution of seeds under police protection. This issue was raised in the legislative assembly by the state agriculture minister, a month back which led to action being taken against the above said company. Mahyco's Bt cotton seeds were reportedly being sold at `2,500 instead of the state appointed price of `930 in the black market.
Many sections of the anti-GM lobby such as the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti while hailing the decision, also called for the ban of Bt cotton seeds from other companies to whom Mahyco had outlicensed their technology to. There has been widespread criticism against Bt cotton in the last few years with reports linking it to decreased yields and farmers suicides, and the ban of Mahyco's Bt cotton seeds was being viewed by many, as the state's opinion against cultivating Bt cotton.
However, an effort has been made by a number of authorities both political and those belonging to farmers associations that this is not a move against Bt cotton or its technology. When contacted by BioSpectrum, the Maharashtra State Agriculture commissioner, Umakant Dangat clearly mentioned that the decision did not reflect the government's stand on Bt cotton.
He added, "The ban on the sale of the Bt cotton seeds by Mahyco is a result of the company creating an artificial shortage of seeds in the market. This does not mean we are against Bt cotton. This is a criminal matter which is an outcome of the malpractices by the company and its dealers who after creating a shortage in the market indulged in black marketeering."
Dangat also added that this decision would not affect the seed companies that have out licensed Mahyco's Bt cotton technology, since reports of black marketeering were found only against Mahyco. He also stated that they would initiate such stringent action in case any other seeds companies were also found to indulge in such alleged malpractices.