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Maharashtra government should come clean on GM crop
The CICR Nagpur Hall has held two meetings in the last seven days. One was chaired by Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and the other by Maharashtra Government's appointed committee on allowing field tests to genetically modified (GM) crops, headed by Dr Anil Kakodkar.

In the first one, the minister admitted failure of GM seed and asked officers to promote traditional non-GM seed but in second meeting there was a proposal to review the proposal to grant permission for GM seed testing in Maharashtra. It seems that there was a clear directive from PMO, Union Agriculture Ministry and Maharashtra chief minister to go ahead. 

Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil admitted last week that the genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton had brought no benefits to the farmers and that seed companies were thriving on it. The state government has decided to promote organic lifestyle and has promised various measures to promote the use of genetically non-modified seeds, providing cold storage, packaging, processing units besides introducing organic produce outlets for famers.

Though the state government was mulling over promotion of organic farms since 2003, it formally adopted the policy in 2013 and now intends to bring in as much of land under the organic farming as possible but this announcement of Agriculture minister in not in line with hidden agenda of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to give entry to US base MNCs  in GM Food crop as Maharashtra Government’s appointed committee on allowing field tests to genetically modified (GM) crops, headed by eminent nuclear scientist and Dr Anil Kakodkar, and held detailed deliberations on the issue in the premises of CICR on Wednesday.

Hence one would like to know what is the state policy regarding GM seed as  Bt cotton has been the only GM crop allowed in India, but private corporations have been lobbying to bring in GM rice, tomato, wheat and so on. Bt Brinal was attempted too, but the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh had stopped the release in 2010.

In August 2012, technical experts appointed by the Supreme Court recommended a 10-year moratorium on all field trials of GM food crops. But Kakodkar committee may throw the doors open for new GM seeds. The dual policy stand of Maharashtra government has crated doubts about Agriculture Ministry's stand to make Maharashtra state an organic farming state.

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prithviraj chavan
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