In the eighth decade of the last century, many peasant movements were at the peak. The most famous and influential movement among them was the mass struggle onion by Maharashtra Shetkari organization. Sharad Joshi raised his voice against the exploitation of onion growers. He formed the Shetkari organizations for the battle against the politics of GM Crops. The question thus also remains intact as to whether Indian agriculture will remain entangled with this question or not.
For the first time in India, a new type of questions arose in the peasant movements, when the Shetkari organization passed the resolution and demanded the freedom to sell the produce of farmers in the world market. In the second resolution, he advocated the promotion of GM crops and demanded that the use of Bt cotton be implemented in the entire country including Maharashtra.
The third proposal is that a law should be made to properly evaluate the cost price of crops and sell them at the same price in the market.
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and nowadays Punjab also fall under the category of more cotton-growing area. The assessment of Sharad Joshi and his organization has now been proved wrong that the use of GM crops can lead to bumper production of wheat, cotton, soy and mustard.
The current president of the Shetkari organization, Anil Dhanawat, is explaining the importance of GM crops to farmers in various districts of Maharashtra these days. Whereas former state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had banned these experiments. According to government figures, the reports of maximum farmer suicides are coming from Vidarbha and Marathwada region.
Despite the government ban on HTBT cotton, cotton-producing farmers have sown 25 percent of the land. Vegetables are being shown to the farmers that reducing the spraying of pesticides in this cotton will reduce the cost and increase the productivity per hectare. Cotton farming is affected by pests and yellow fly outbreaks.
Many times pesticides are sprayed, which is expensive as well as toxic. Due to this, the lives of farmers are always in danger, due to the use of pesticides four to five times, its remaining residue in grains and vegetables is present in large quantities.
The Minister has admitted in Parliament that 5,114 farmers have died while spraying pesticides. In view of these threats, the central government has also instructed the states not to use restricted seeds and medicines.
But recently a report has been submitted by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) studying the effects of GM mustard variety 'DMH-II' on biodiversity and agricultural conditions. According to indications, the government's stand is soft. Similar signs are coming from NITI Aayog.
On this issue, renowned agricultural scientist Dr. MS Swaminathan has clarified that land testing should be mandatory before the use of GM crops. A major disadvantage of these seeds is that they also have the potential to infect non-GM crops on a large scale.
But farmers get enthused by the temptation of production only. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has reported in its 73rd report that commercial cultivation of Bt cotton worsened the cotton growers' condition rather than improved.
It is satisfactory that the country's genetic engineering evaluation committee has not yet approved it on HTBity. The work of propagating these seeds and pesticides in India has been done by American company Monsanto, which has been banned by many countries.
But with its local partner in India, it has managed to grow the business. However, the governments of Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat have already made their stand clear and opposed.
Since agriculture is a state subject in India, no decision can be taken practically without the consent of the state governments. Most of the political parties have also opposed these experiments. Hopefully, this issue related to agriculture will be resolved in the upcoming session of Parliament.